In the previous post I looked at what some philosophers say about how feelings are the ultimate determiners of our setting of aims. Some would go so far as to assert that morality itself depends on the feelings of the person making the moral judgement. Other philosophers react against this, with the view that the moral standard is a law of reason.
If these philosophers are correct, then moral standards are fixed and unchanging. The moral law would then be a law of nature, comparable to, but not identical with, such laws as the law of gravity. One form of this theory is that good actions are necessarily consistent actions. Thus a bad action would be a denial, and a good action an affirmation, of the real state of things.
For example, if a man steals a car and drives away with it, it is a bad action because he is not thinking of the car as being what it is (someone else's car), so he is denying things as they are, and contradicting the law of reason. The thief is affirming a falsehood. Again, they have argued that a man who beats is wife is in a way denying that she is his wife.
Some philosophers go further than this. They agree that it is true that the bad action is one that is inconsistent, but it is inconsistent not with an objective fact but with an ideal. Under this view, stealing is wrong not because it is a denial of an objective fact about the stolen property, but because the action is inconsistent with an ideal relationship between human beings.
The philosopher Kant held that when a person does a bad action, the inconsistency lies in the fact that they are acting according to a principle which they are not willing to allow others to follow as their principle. Under this definition, a person who only performs good actions is one who is at all times prepared to let others act on the same principles.
The philosopher says: In the lower forms of goodness, the actions of an individual form a coherent whole among themselves. In higher forms of goodness, they form a coherent system with the actions of one's own society. In the highest forms of goodness, they form a coherent system with all other acts of willing in the universe.