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· Kant believed that duties were the important thing in
ethics, rather than desires or situations
· He also claimed duties must be universal ­ i.e. if
something is right once, it must be right all the time
· So if I say that lying is right in one circumstance, I must
accept that lying is always okay
· This is the categorical imperative ­ a universal
statement, like "I should not lie"…read more

Slide 3

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· Not all statements are categorical imperatives
· Something like "if I want to get good grades, I
should work hard in Mr. Collins's lessons" is a
hypothetical imperative
· The difference is the "if I want..." part ­
categorical imperatives don't have this, because
they don't depend on any desire or individual
circumstance…read more

Slide 4

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"Bet you didn't
know I polished
my head, did
· Kant must have decided that people wouldn't be happy
without some sort of God-stuff in his theory
· So he added the Summum Bonum...
· ...Which is the state of ultimate happiness and goodness he
tacked on to an otherwise-fine theory in order to make it a bit
more interesting
· Oh, and this means that for Kant's theory to work, God must
exist ­ Kant believed nobody could achieve the Summum
Bonum in a single life, making life after death a necessity
which God must provide…read more

Slide 5

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· Kant believed we should never use people as means to an
end ­ people must only be ends in themselves (i.e. we cannot
manipulate people to achieve some other goal)
· He also said we should act as if we live in a "kingdom of
ends" (i.e. act as if nobody else uses people as a means to
an end either)
· Thomas Nagel tried to keep Kantian ethics usable by claiming
we already apply deontological rules ­ I should not steal,
should not lie, should not kill...…read more

Slide 6

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"I was so
· Doesn't fall into the trap of utilitarianism ­ no matter how
much the majority would like something, if it is wrong
they cannot do it (i.e. no torture, even if most people
would like it)
· Seems good that it distinguishes between duty and
desire ­ what we want is not always what is right
· The idea of universal rules is nice ­ wouldn't live be good
if we all knew the rules?…read more

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