Kantian ethics

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  • KANTIAN ETHICS
    • Intro
      • Developed by Immanuel Kant a German philosopher living in a time of crisis and doubt.
        • Science was developing and began to redefine knowledge with a mechanistic newtonian understanding
      • Kants thinking is a response to criticisms of the soul, freedom and God
      • Kant did believe in God and an afterlife but was suspicious about relying on religious doctrine.
      • Moral knowledge is known through reason not experience or emotion. A priori thinking
      • Based on the moral law an objective law that always binds us
        • Moral law is something we must categorically follow. not hypothetical as morals, for Kant are universal maxima
        • Good people always follow the moral law and do their duty. Moral actions should not seek pleasure or come from revelation
      • Kant is a deontological ethical thinker the rightness and wrongness of something is determined by the action itself
    • Duty and good will
      • what motivates people to do good?
        • Fear of consequence, gaining of an individual advantage, loyalty
        • Kant argues that nothing can be called good only good will
      • Duty
        • We must decide an action out of duty
        • Kant uses the example of the honest shopkeeper- worried about reputation
          • You do things not because of what people might think but because it is the right thin to do
        • Acting upon inclination from loyalty has no moral worth for Kant
        • It is important to have active sympathy for people however we must not be carried away by emotions. Must not drive us to our moral thinking
        • "to do good to others where one can is a duty"
          • "Those who do good because they sense of inner pleasure be spreading joy are not truly moral"
        • Kant establishes some specific duties to ourselves and others
          • Strive for self perfection and well being for others
          • Pursue the greater good
          • The innate right to freedom
          • Duty to not destroy ourselves or commit suicide
    • Behavior
      • Moral knowledge is a priori and synthetic
      • Kant says it is wrong to find moral law through gut feeling, God or depending on the situation. We can only find knowledge through reason
      • All knowledge comes from within "though all knowledge begins with experience it does not follow that at all arises out of experience"
      • Synthetic statements are statements by which evidence is needed to prove truth
        • Moral judgments are synthetic. They bring additional information from outside experience
    • Categorical Imperative
      • we should avoid using the hypothetical imperative. a conditional statement
        • Behavior is a means to an end, do things for a desired result
      • Moral knowledge is categorical
      • Three formulas
        • actions must be universalizable (good for all people in all situations)
        • Never treat people as a means to an end
        • Act as though we live in a kingdom of ends
        • The formula of the universal law is nature
          • It cannot be an exceptional act that only applies to this situation or that culture
          • Kant argued that maxims that could not be universalized would be self defeating
          • Undermining truth telling is undermining society
          • Benjamin Constant argues that duty to always tell the truth would make any society impossible
        • The formula of the end in itself
          • Human beings are national agents and are capable of exercising free will
          • we cannot restrict people of their own free choices their own future life
          • "nobody can use a person as a means to an end, no human being not yet Go the creator" Karol Wojtyla
        • The formula of the kingdom of ends
          • Kant forbids us from making a moral rule that presupposes people will not treat themselves as an end and only as a means
          • However we cannot base moral rules on universal rules or uniform degeneration.
          • We must imagine ourselves living in a kingdom of ends when searching for moral laws

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