Kantian Ethics and Doing Your Duty

“People should always do their duty.”
a) Explain how Kant understood this concept.
b) Assess critically Kant’s claims about the categorical imperative.

In Moral Philosophy, doing your duty is categorised as a Deontological form of act-centered ethics. Immanuel Kant was a philosopher that was the major proponent of a kind of deontological morality, namely Kantian ethics. Kantian ethics is based upon a simple factor of universalisability - the Golden Rule, do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Of course, there is more to this than just that. Kant’s ethics are based upon duty and are unconditional, are developed through reason alone, and the universalisability of actions which partly help in determining what our duties are. It is important to note that Kant believes, despite being a Christian, that laws do not come from God, as in the Divine Command Theory, another Deontological   form of ethics. Kant defines a human as a partially rational and empirical being, God as a wholly rational being, and everything else (animals) as empirical beings, subject to emotions and desires.
Kant’s ethical theory involves being bound to your duty. A moral action is only moral if it is done in recognising the duty one has to serve in the situation. It is considered amoral if it is done out of self interest, by emotion or ‘feeling’, or if there is some condition to the doing of the act. This latter factor is important to Kant. He distinguishes between the hypothetical imperative and the categorical imperative, where the word ‘ought’ is being used differently. A hypothetical imperative is a conditional command that usually has a beneficial gain from doing the act. For example, “You ought to eat your vegetables, or you will not get dessert.” Here, the getting the dessert is conditional upon eating the vegetables. Doing these things is a means to achieving some practical or personal end. According to Kant, this is not moral. Moral actions are those done inside the...