Kantian Ethics

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  • Kantian Ethics
    • Good Will
      • Kant: good thing is good will (good intentions).
      • We aim to do the right thing is all that matters. "duty for duty's sake".
      • "Good will shine like a precious jewel" Kant
    • Duty
      • If we have good will, we will do the right action for the right reason.
      • Duty is doing the right thing out of self interest and do it due to inclination (because we feel like it).
      • Duty is what we rationally think we should do.
    • Autonomy and Maxim
      • Kant says there can be absolute moral duties.
      • Autonomy- the belief that we are free and able to make our own decisions.
      • Kant argues  when we carry out an action, act on maxim- moral rules.
    • Hypothetical Imperatives
      • Its a command that we follow in order to achieve an end result.
      • May be odd , nothing illogical in saying people who don't do homework and don't mind detentions.
      • Kant argues if the command applies in certain situations or is dependent on the outcome, not moral duty.
    • Categorical Imperatives
      • Categorical imperative is a command and must be logically followed.
      • Logical form is 'do x' or 'don't do x'.
      • When you do an act on the rule 'don't kill' not because you have an outcome in mind.
      • Something unconditional about the command. Kant gives three formulations.
    • Kant three formulations
      • 1) Universal law: Kant says the action should be universal law, something everyone would logically do.
      • 2) Persons as ends: Kant see humans as rational. We have a duty to treat everyone as humans.
      • 3) Kingdom of ends: combination of two to make a hypothetical perfect kingdom.
      • "Act in such a way that you always treat humanity, whether in your own person...never simply as a means" Kant
    • Assessing the idea of duty
      • 1) Duty useful as our desires change. Put feelings aside.
      • 2) Problem of conflicting duties. Not clear as to what we should do.
      • 3) Concept of duty abused when conflicted with authority.
    • Three postulates: Duty and God
      • 1) We have free will, aree to do good or evil.
      • 2) There's an afterlife, immortal. Kant argues in symmumbonum (the highest good) to be achieved.
      • 3) That Gid exists, good rewarded by happiness by God.
    • Strengths
      • Universal law 'treat others as you would wish them to treat you'.
      • Reason and duty not linked to personal bias.
      • Respect the value of people, not be a means to end.
      • Clear and fixed guidelines.
      • Secular theory- doesn't require you to believe in God.
    • Weaknesses
      • Outcome does matter. E.g. not lie to a murderer.
      • Not well in a dilemma where there's a lesser evil.
      • Does not tell us what we should actually do.
    • John Rawls and the veil of ignorance
      • Justice is behind the veil of ignorance, agree to laws before we know our position in life.


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