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Immanuel Kant

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Ros Wong

on 19 February 2015

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Transcript of Immanuel Kant

Definition of Good
The only thing good in something is the
"good will"
Attitude towards an action is what defines good will.
A good will derives from the will to do a duty because it is a duty.
Decisions need to be wholly determined by moral demands or what he refers to as the Moral Law
Goodness cannot arise from impulse or inclination
Understanding of Ethics
morality is derived from rationality
it is OBJECTIVE rather than subjective
focus is around the motive behind an act
Categorical Imperative
actions either right or wrong
absolute. NO GREY AREAS!!!
breaks down into 3 maxims
Kant's Works
1. A student sees that his classmate has dropped her pencil case on the ground and all the pencils have fallen out. He decides not to help her because he wants to finish his homework, although his desk is close to hers and he can easily help her. Is this action permissible?

2. A girl hears some people talking badly about her friend and decides to tell her friend about it out of honesty, although she knows it will make her friend angry. Is this action permissible?

Immanuel Kant

Philosophy Before Kant
Critique of Pure Reason
Critique of Practical Reason
Critique of Judgement
Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals
focuses on pure reason, knowledge, truth, consciousness
time and space

not as clear of a focus as the other two “critiques”
matters related to science, teleology, and aesthetics

Good Will:
nothing is good without good will
good will is rational

the maxim should be universal. If others will act the same, then the maxim is moral right
duty is right, self interest in wrong

must not contain subjective principals and hypothetical imperative
should be categorical imperative, meaning rational and logical

Free Will:
“intelligent” and “sensible” world
sensible is subjective, intelligent is objective
freedom cannot be achieved because humans are of both
freedom under law (ethics) is the doctrine of virtue

Practical Law:
focus on thinking morally and rationally, not a guide to life
only one maxim (intention) is suitable to morality
Moral law must be universalized, not only according to one content

Freedom and Morality:
one and the same
following moral will = acting independent of one’s desires = freedom

Moral worth and Moral legality:
worth of action is NOT based on the effects, but on the reason of performance
if the will is right, the action is also

Moral Duty vs. Noble Feeling:
difference in acting according to feeling, because it pleases him/herself, and according to duty
again, true moral is acting from maxim of duty
since the goal of moral will is the highest good, it cannot be found on earth

Your mother asks you to help her cook dinner.
Do you...

A) help her cook because it makes her happy and you care about her so you do it with no complaints?

B) help her cook simply because you like to cook?

C) reluctantly help her cook even though you have many other things to do?
What do you think?
You are alone on a boat and you see someone drowning in the water. You want to help them but the water is deep and you can't swim, so there is a considerable chance you could drown. You can either:

A. Go into the water and attempt to save the person, and risk drowning.

B. Play it safe and stay on the boat.

Which action is more morally permissible?
Descartes, Spinoza, and Leibniz were all Rationalists
This is the belief that supersensible knowledge can be achieved by reasoning.
They used
a priori
reasoning, which is when a proposition can be known independent of experiencing it
They hoped to achieve a higher understanding of the world and the soul using the simplest ideas and logic
Kant doubted the Rationalist's theories because of what he called
, a contradiction between two principles, what we may know as a paradox
"Act only according to that maxim by which you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law."
"Act as though the maxim of your action were by your will to become a universal law of nature."
"Act so that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or in that of another, always as an end and never as a means only."
act in a manner that can be applied to everyone in the world without contradictions

To test the morality of an action:

1) Think of an action
2) Imagine everyone in the world doing the same action
3) If any contradictions arise, then the action is not

morally permissible!
A person is an end in themselves, not a means to an end
This would otherwise contradict the 1st maxim
-> allows you freedom of rational action, but
denies the person of their freedom
Opposite of
(morality based on outcome of actions)
It is wrong to manipulate others whether or not it leads to a greater good
Ensure your actions can be applied to you and everyone else on Earth
You are both the absolute moral authority and the subject of that authority
Purpose of Ethics
exists for all rational beings
we neither act completely based on instinct nor are we free of natural impulses
we feel the need to justify our actions using logic and reasoning
Locke, Berkeley, and Hume were all Empiricists
This is the belief that human knowledge comes from our sensations
Locke, in particular, argued that the mind is a blank slate that gains ideas from experiences and interaction with the world
Kant argued against this by stating that just the interactions of the mind with the world is insufficient to explain our beliefs; some must be from the mind itself
- humans do not have control over everything, God exists to help humans achieve the supreme good
- humans have the freedom to do what they want to do (free will)
- afterlife to continue attempting to achieve the supreme good
Supreme Good
Case Studies
Example #2
Immanuel Kant
Immanuel Kant was born on April 22, 1724, in Königsberg , East Prussia.
He was a German philosopher who made significant contributions to metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, and aesthetics. He focused largely on the question,
"What can we know?"
He was a foremost thinker in the Age of Enlightenment, a European movement of the 17th and 18th century that revolutionized and brought modern ideas to Medieval ways
A building is facing a hostage situation. A man is upset that a criminal was released from prison. He is now threatening to kill several hostages unless the police turn over the criminal to him. Would you:

A. Keep the criminal and let the hostages die.

B. Turn over the criminal and save the hostages.
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