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The historical period in which Immanuel Kant lived (the end of the eighteenth century) was characterised by two very different ethical view points. One of these was English empiricism, which operated on the basis of moral sense and was primarily represented by Shaftesbury. The entirety of ethics was drawn from a sensation of nobleness. The second view point was the approach of German philosopher Christian Wolff, whose ethical concept assumes that everybody is born into a certain status. To live an ethical life means to improve within that status.

This is in line with responsibility to the ultimate criterion. 8 Normative Ethics Schools Deontological ethics The ethics of reckoning concludes by leaving a question in the open that it does not fully answer that remains: What is the ultimate criterion among all other criteria that makes human beings act ethically? It was shown in the previous text on business ethics that one of the main questions was about whether it pays to act in this way. This question is answered by Immanuel Kant in the work Critique of Pure Reason (Kant 1998), in which he contends that people cannot dwell exclusively on their existence because they are constantly haunted by questions about their natural behaviour that they cannot escape.

Philosophy paved their way to freedom but left them to their own devices, standing alone at the mercy of the situation and themselves. Situation ethics in its strict form leaves humans in the throes of their own freedom. It is sometimes referred to as a ‘curse’ of freedom, in which no rules and maxims apply yet decisions have to be made. Rich says: “The normative outcome is reduced to an empty, silent obligation. In this duty a human being can choose to be ethical in one way or another, provided he/she accepts responsibility and never regrets having acted deliberately.

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