Kantian Ethics

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  • Kantian Ethics
    • Moral Law
      • There is an objective moral law which is beyond our personal opinion, preference or desire.
      • Knowable through reason
      • Indepedent of all individual opinion or preference, it demands that all obey in its own right.
      • Tells us what we ought to do
      • we perceive moral law rhrough our rational capacity they are beyond price and cannot be used and discarded without concern.
    • Duty and Good Will
      • Good will is in accordance with duty but it is not enough to be consistent with duty.
      • Our actions must arise out of duty.
      • Emotions must not drive our moral thinking.
      • 'to do good to others where one can is a duty.'
      • We must strive for self-perfection and the well-being of others.
      • Pursue the greatest good and not our own happiness
      • We have the innate right to freedom
      • Our duties:
        • A duty not to destroy ourselves or commit suicide.
        • A duty not to destroy or limit other huam nbeings
        • A duty not to make false promises.
        • Avoid drunkeness as this compromises our freedom to act reasonably
      • We have the right to private property.
      • The state is necessary to uphold our duty and good will
    • A posteriori knowledge
      • Knowledge from experience
      • We can know something is true because we have experienced it to be true
    • A priori knowledge
      • Knowledge from reason
      • Moral Knowlege comes from within and its a priori.
      • We just know that 2 + 2 = 4
      • 'though our knowledge begins with experience it does not follow that it all arises out of experience.'
    • Synthetic and Analytic Propositions
      • Synthetic
        • The table in the kitchen is round
        • The predicate is outside the sbject and therefore must be made with reference to something other than the meanings of terms and laws of logic.
        • Propositions which require checking.
        • A posteriori
        • Moral Propositions must be synthetic.
      • Analytic
        • All batchelors are unmarried
        • A statement where the predicate belongs to the subject
        • A priori
      • e an combine the judgement (analytic or synthetic) with the way that we find out thi sknolwedge (a priori or posteriori)
    • The hypothetical imperative
      • Hypothetical knowledge is conditional
      • Defined as; a moral obligation that applies only if one desires the implied goal.
      • We must follow moral law.
    • The categorical imperative
      • Moral Knowledge is categorical
      • Defined as: an unconditional moral obligation that is always binding irrespective of a person's inclination or purpose
      • Commands that we excercise our will in a certain wasy irrespective of any end.
      • The moral rues and acts reside in themseves alone, not in circusmtances o whether they bring personal happiness.
    • Formula
      • The Formula of the universal law of nature
        • 'act only according to that maxim by which you can at the same will that it should become a universal law.'
        • when we act morally, our action ust be something that we could always do, it cannot be an exceptional act that only applies in this situation or that culture.
        • moral behaviour must be consistent through-out our life and everyone else's.
        • 'every action is right if it or its maxims allows each person's freedom of choice to coexist with the freedom of everyone in accordance with a universal law.'
        • Maxims taht cannot be universalised are self-defeating.
        • moral law is a universal law which binds everything
        • Kant's universability rule bans all lying
          • Benjamin Constant argued that the duty to always tell the truth would make society impossible.
            • 'no one has a right to a truth that harms others.'
              • 'it would be a crime to tell a lie to a murderer who asked whether our friend who is being pursued by a murderer had taken refuge in our house.'
              • Kant respond by saying that a lie always harms someone.
          • 'it would be a crime to tell a lie to a murderer who asked whether our friend who is being pursued by a murderer had taken refuge in our house.'
      • The Formula of the end in itself
        • 'act in such a way that you always treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, never simply as a means, but always at the same time as an end.'
        • We are rational agents capable of free will, this means that we are beyond price.
        • Our actions must have regard for the intrinsic quality of the human beings which are involved and their freedom.
        • You cannot use someone for your own pleasures to the detriment of your own human flourishing.
        • Karol Wojtyla (before he became Pope John Paul II)
          • 'Anyone who treats  person as the means to an end foe violence to the very essence of the other, to what constitutes its natural rights..'
      • The formula of the kingdom of ends
        • 'act as if he were through his maxims always a law-making member in the universal kingdom of ends.'
        • Kant forbids us from making a moral rule that presupposes others will not treat people as ends in themselves.
        • We should not base our universal rules on uniform degradation. A universal disregard for all people is possible.
        • It could be that we live in a world where no one is acting morally, no one is treating others as creatures who have worth.
        • Kant makes this impossible as a moral maxim because of his thinking on the significant of a person as a rational law maker
        • The kingdom of ends is the world that we must imagine when searching for universal laws.
    • The three postulates
      • Freedom and the Summum Bonum
        • The psotulate of freedom if often called 'autonomy.'
        • Autonomy means that humans and their wills are free and self-directing.
        • For Kant it is improtant that we postualte freedom, this is because it is the 'highest degree of life and the inner worth of the world.'
        • Freedom means that we have the freedom to choose the moral law over our personal instincts or desires
        • Rational creatures are free but they gain this freedom by adopting a formal law of action whereby principles are universalised.
        • We act consistently according to universal rules rather than momentary impulses
        • Moral choices are only possible if people are free to make them.
        • In order to do our duty we must be free,l autonomy of the will lies at the foundation of Kantian ethics.
        • If we are restricted and our actions are controlled by another or we simply cannot act them we do not have moral responsibility.
      • Immortality
        • when we rech the summum bonum our duty is united with things that give happiness.
        • To reach the summum bonum is not easy, in our present world good people who do their duty may not find happiness in this world and may meet an unhappy end.
          • therefore, we must postulate the immortality of the soul to allow for the correct happiness's to be ensured beyond this life.
        • some people believe that life after thisd one will give us ultimate happiness, Kant thant thought that humans have the oppoortunity for endless improvement even beyond death.
        • Human beings were immortal, they lived on beyond this life in heaven and so sacrifical acts of duty are possile.
      • God
        • Some people see kantian ethics as a n attempt to step away from a theological starting point.
        • Kant sought to advance ethical theory which did not begin with God.
        • Some elements of Kant's thinking did imply God e.g. the idea of an eternal law and the idea that we are created as rational creatures.
        • kant was able to see that not every virtuous act would lead to happiness in this world
        • His belief in immoortality and heavenly situation would ensure that ultimately happiensses are distributed appropriately in accordance with the moral acts that people have undertaken.
        • God ensured that in the end the word was arranged correctly to ensuyre the highest goo.
        • God recognises the striving that many people have undertaken.
        • some chrstians believe that God places too much important on human reason and doesn't give enough credit to other sources of reason and God, e.g. biblical revelation.
    • Immanuel Kant (1724-1804)
    • Deontological
    • Moral Knowledge comes from reason at first hand, a priori synthetic

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