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Justin Litaker

on 23 February 2017

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Transcript of Deontology

Review of Moral Theories
Common Deductive Argument Form
: the morally right act is the act I (the speaker) approve(s) of

Cultural Relativism
: the morally right act is that act approved of by a society’s moral code

Divine Command Theory
: the right act is the act commanded by God

Ethical Egoism
: the morally right act is the act that best promotes the agent’s self-interest

Social Contract Theory
: morally right acts are those acts that follow the rules necessary for social living (and to avoid a state of nature) that rational people would agree to on the condition that others agreed to follow the rules as well

: the theory that the morally right action is the action whose consequences bring into the world the greatest total amount of happiness (after subtracting any unhappiness caused)
Truman & Anscombe
Dropping an atom bomb on Japanese cities is an act of murder, the killing of innocents as a means to ends is never justified
Dropping an atom bomb on Japanese cities – though it killed innocent men, women and children – was justified because it saved lives.
Immanuel Kant
Hypothetical & Categorical Imperative
tells you that you should do X if you want something else Y
Categorical Imperative
tells you what you should do regardless of what you want; independent of any desires – do X period
First Categorical Imperative
Act only according to that maxim by which you can at the same time will that it should become universal law
Kant's Examples
Making a false promise to repay a loan knowing that one can't repay
• Can one universalize this?
: you would not be willing to accept others making false promises to you

Not giving to charity
Can one universalize this?
: if one was in desperate need one would not want others to be indifferent to one's needs

For Kant, right acts are ones that follow rules that are

The Case of the Inquiring Murderer
Kant says
tell the truth
Because you can't know whether or not your friend is really at home
Avoid the known evil
(lying) and let the consequences come as they may
And if he is not at home, and you lied, and the murder found him outside his home, you'd be
(in part) for his death
A friend tells you he is going home to hide from a murderer. The murder comes and asks you if your friend is at home. Should you lie or tell the truth?
Rachels Response
We often can know what the consequences of our acts will be
Kant ignores that one is also responsible for the consequences of telling the truth as well as the consequences of lying
the position that certain ways of acting are right or wrong in-themselves, independently of their consequences

OR there are principles of conduct that prohibit or require certain ways of treating others, independently of the consequences of doing so.
What Should I Do?
Kant’s Lasting Contribution
Morality & Rationality
Violating morality is not only immoral but irrational
Moral judgments must be backed by good reasons (Rachels account of morality)
Consistent Application
Good reasons are the ones that are consistently applied
One can’t think something is a good reason in one case and then deny it is a good reason in another case (that is relevantly similar)
Kant's mistake was to think that consistency implied absolute (exception-less) moral rules, but it doesn't
All consistency requires is that if we advocate violating a rule in one case for a particular reasons (lie to save an innocent person), then we must be willing to accept that reason for violating the rules in other similar cases
Does the act conform to the requirements of rationality and human dignity?
For an act to have moral worth we must not only act out of a right motivation but we must also do the right thing (Motive & Act)
We must act out of duty and according to duty
Hypothetical Imperative
For Kant, morality involves categorical imperatives

These are justified by reasons: binding on all rational agents simply
they are rational
Full transcript