Goodwill, Duty and Categorical Imperative Concepts in the Workplace



Goodwill, Duty and Categorical Imperative Concepts in the Workplace

Leaders in corporate and educational environments have people who work for and are entitled to them. While it is possible to have these workers treated as tools for labor, engineered towards solely benefiting the company or institution, these leaders treat people as ends in themselves. While propounding this theory, philosopher Immanuel Kant opined that every rational human being ought to be treated as an end in themselves and not as a means to something else. If one is an end-in-themselves, it means that their inherent value does not depend in anything else. Factually, people are ends in themselves, possessing intrinsic worth, whether or not they prove valuable to their heads, leaders, managers or other subjects.Goodwill, Duty and Categorical Imperative Concepts in the Workplace

Treating people as ends in themselves in a workplace simply means treating such people not as a means to our own ends as leaders or managers. According to Kant, it is always wrong to treat people (in this case workers) merely as tools for our own benefit because would take away that person’s autonomy (Potter, 2011). Failing to grant workers the pursuit of their own rational projects in the workplace and ends is to portray them as something less human. The idea of treating people as ends to themselves in the workplace can be understood in three distinct concepts of duty, categorical imperative and goodwill.

Kant’s Concept of Categorical Imperative and Its Applicability-Goodwill, Duty and Categorical Imperative Concepts in the Workplace

Categorical imperative is a fundamental principle of our moral duties according to Kant. These moral duties are imperative because they are commands addressed to people who could either follow them or not. They are categorical in virtue of their unconditional application on humans (Stamford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2004). Thus, categorical imperatives are meant to jolt people to act as they would wish other people to act towards all other humans. It is what would motivate a leader to reason and not mistreat his or her subjects.Goodwill, Duty and Categorical Imperative Concepts in the Workplace

Why would a person of influence and class treat a mere worker with dignity? It is because of categorical imperatives. Every human being, in the virtue of being rational, will act precisely in the same way; impartial and neutral because they are not guided by their own biases, but have respect to the dignity and autonomy of every other person. They do not put their selfish ambitions above the respect others deserve. That is why one’s boss would very much likely give him a day-off to see through his wife deliver even when the company is in need of his services at that particular moment. In a more precise manner, categorical imperative would ensure any action of moral law passes the test of impartiality, universality and rationality.

Kant’s Concept of Goodwill and Duty Goodwill, Duty and Categorical Imperative Concepts in the Workplace

In Kant’s terms, a good will is a will whose decisions are wholly determined by moral demands or, as he often refers to this, by the Moral Law (Stamford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2004). People often feel moral law to be a constraint of their natural desires and as such, these laws as applied to others, are imperative and duties. The thought of duty comes in to obligate an individual to follow moral law and negate the natural will. Therefore, in analyzing unqualified or unwarranted goodness by leaders in education or cooperate environments, the focus is on the idea of being motivated by the thought that these leaders are constrained to conduct themselves in certain ways.

Kant’s concept of duty implies that people are supposed to act in accordance with the demands of law, and not for any particular course. The will is misguided and inappropriate if it is motivated by any human desires and inclinations since the only principle to act on and still be good is the universal law. We should never act in any manner that we would not be comfortable with if it were made a universal law (Wright, 2002). Therefore, Kant recognizes a moral duty to seek to perfect our own moral virtue

In a leader’s own dignity and moral autonomy, their moral duty toward their workers is primarily to help promote their happiness in their own way, through sharing in their own projects within the scope of the moral law and other constraints (Wright, 2002). They have a duty to assists, respect and benevolence for the workers, which may not be imparted as universal rules in the form of legislation or conventions but form a genuine moral duty. The strife is on the preservation and promotion of rational nature in the working environment.

It is therefore imperative that leaders of institutions and company managers treat their workers as end to themselves by enacting their moral duty towards the employees. They provide opportunities to them and actively remove obstacles to their progress and development. For instance, they ensure that the workers’ welfare are chartered for by providing opportunities such as insurance cover for the workers’ health. The aim is to ensure that the moral duty to promote the workers’ happiness is, in crucial respects, overlapping and corresponding to the basic duty to treat persons as ends to themselves.







Works Cited

Potter, N. N. (2011). What It Means to Treat People as Ends-in-Themselves. The American Journal of Bioethics, 11(10).

Stamford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. (2004, Feb 23). Kant’s Moral Philosophy. Retrieved from

Wright, G. (2002). Treating Persons as Ends in Themselves: The Legal. University of Richmond Law Review Implications of a Kantian Principle, 36(1).