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Kantian Ethics

Moral application and the Moral theory as a whole. Includes details of the Categorical Imperatives, the 3 formulations, Kant's theory of duty, good will and the idea of Summon Bonum. Also a summary and a critique of Kant's theory -

Mollie Tant

on 9 April 2013

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Transcript of Kantian Ethics

AS Examination 13th May Kantian Ethics! An introduction to Kantian Ethics... Summary Enlightenment century, German Philosopher, Absolute/Deontological theory, acts which are intrinsically right or wrong
> Kant felt that we all are rational beings - moe tha just pain/pleasure organisms
> We need to realise this rationality, culture it ans this will improve our ethical reasoning
> It revolves around the ideas of hypothetical and categorical imperatives Freedom of will:
> morality itself wouldn't be existing if we weren't free
> We must be capable of exercising our own free will
Freedom of will and Good will The individual is the sole authority for moral judgement - Kant grants freedom to anything that can be consistently universalised -this morality does not give direct guidance, thus, in order for Kant's theory to make sense , Kant postulates the existence of God, freedom and immortality.
Kant's ethical theory could be said to be religious mortality without God, but he seems to take for granted God as lawgiver and he argues that there must be a God and an after life - some sort of reward for acting in the moral, right way.
Happiness is our reward for acting morally
- he also says that we have duty to make ourselves happy - not because we WANT to be happy, but because it is necessary for us to do out other duties.
- Duty is in a totally different vacuum - seperate from our everyday lives
- Solve the dilemma - postulates of Gd and immortality: after death, in the next world - there is no conflict between 'duty' and 'happiness' - it is part of the natural harmony of purposes created by God The three postulates of practical reason! Summun Bonum = our aim in acting morally is to become worthy of being happy - achieve 'Summum bonum' or the highest good - is a state where happiness and virtue are united - for Kant it is the virtuous person who has 'good will' - vital for mortality
- Summun Bonum cannot be achieved in this life = life after death - we can achieve it here. Morality leads to good. Summun Bonum SO BASICALLY YOU NEED TO KNOW... The formulations of the
categorical Imperatives : These are moral commands and they tell everyone what to and what not to do. These CI apply to everyone because they are based on objective a priori law of reasoning. This is a test to judge whether an action is in accordance with practical reason. 1. Principle of universalisability
2. Never use people as a means to an end. They are an end in themselves
3. Act as a member of the Kingdom of ends Hypothetical and Categorical Imperatives... The differences between the two... Hypothetical Imperative - Something that one must do if one wants something to happen Categorical Imperative - Something that I must always obey - in the from of duty E.g Murder...
1. Would it be nice if we all believed murder was wrong?
2. We all are equal - so don't fuck someone about basically
3. Given we all are one, then if were to sit down and discuss, we'd all agree murder was wrong Just some Background stuff! Rationalists
- Descartes - 'I think, therefore I am'
- Most important tool in the terms of philosophical reasoning was reason....

- Hume
- Sense, experience is the most important
Practical reasn: morality
' What I ought to do'
> A moral law within ourselves - using our reason to discover these morals
Good will:
> qualities/virtues are only virtuous if the intent behind them is pure - for example; it's intelligence/bravery/wit = good thing
---- duty!
can't be self interested and it should be done for it's own sake
Coperinican revolution lead to two branches - Ought to act - desires and feelings - these do exist but we shouldn't base our moral actions upon these things Strengths
Weaknesses Strengths and weaknesses of Kant's moral theory 1. Duty fits into our rational thought
2. Clear criteria to assess what is moral
3. The moral value of an action is derived from the action itself
4. Kant's CI gives us rules that apply to everyone and command us to respect human life
5. It makes clear that mortality is about doing one's duty and not just following feelings or inclanations. This means that we can not just assume that what is good for us is morally good and so good for everyone else. Equivalent of the Golden Rule of Christian ethics
6. Aims to treat fairly and justly - corrects the Utilitarian motion that the minority can suffer provided the majority are satisfied
7. Humans are seen as being of intrinsic worth and dignity as they are rational creatures. Humans cannot be enslaved or exploited - this is the basis of the Declaration of Human Rights 1. Kant's theory is abstract and not always easy to apply to moral situations - it gives guidance on what type of actions are good, but doesn't tell you what is the right thing to do in a particular situation
2. You can use the principle of universalisability to justify pretty much anything
4. Kant is clear in explaining the conflict between duty and inclanation - but does not help understand the conflict between different duties - each of which could be justified!
5. Sometimes Kant can't deal with issues such as lying to protect someone's life
6. Without God, does Kant's theory crumble without God?
Application of Kantian ethics... To a variety of things...! Kantian Ethics - defended by the Ross! Ross argued that exceptions should be allowed to Kant's duties - prima facie duties (first sight duties). these duties are conditonal and outweighed by compelling duty (i.e; 'never take a life' can be outweighed by 'never take a life except when in self-defence')
> Ross shows that there are possible exceptions to any rule and these exceptions depend on the situation in which I do my duty - possible consequences of doing my duty and the personal relationships involved. 1. Genetic Engineering - includes cloning, research on embryonic stem cells, designer babies and GMOs
> Humans should not be thought of as a means to an end - the second formulation of the CI - often used to protect human dignity
> Creating human life (embryo) for the purpose of obtaining cells which could be used as theraputic material would not be protecting the dignity of that particular human life. 'Act in such a way that you always treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any ohter, never simply as the means but always at the same time as an end' - this is vague - enables it to interpretedi n a ny way so some of these objections can be avoided.
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