Kant’s ethics measure the morality of an action on good will and using the categorical imperative (Shaw, 2017). One time when I was buying groceries at Fred Meyer, the cashier did not scan an item that ended up being bagged. After reviewing my receipt in the car due to my total not sounding right and realizing I had an item with me that I did not pay for, I immediately felt the obligation to go back in and pay for it. According to Kant’s ethics, my action was moral because I acted out of duty and honesty to not take something that was not mine even though I could have placed the fault on the cashier. Using the first part of the categorical imperative, it should be universally accepted to pay for an item that is not one’s own in which I believe is the right thing to do for everyone. Following the second part, going back and paying for the item is out of respect for humanity and could be considered as treating the cashier as an end and not a means of benefiting my own self. Opponents of Kant’s ethics would argue the moral worth that one could be acting out of self-interest in receiving praise from the cashier or others for doing the right thing. They could also argue that is it not fair to claim someone is acting immoral if they happened to place the fault on the cashier rather themselves and drive away. Although Kant’s ethics are not dependent upon the results of an action, it recognizes the importance of acting out of a sense of duty.
Shaw, William H. Business Ethics. 9th ed, Cengage Learning, 2017