Kantian Ethics Revision OCR AS Level

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Kantian Ethics
What Is Kant's Theory of Ethics?
Kant believed in an objective right or wrong based on reason.
We should do right things not because it fulfils our duty but because it is right.
We know right, not right to rely on fact and intuition but by using our reason.
To test a moral maxim, we must see if everyone can follow it and if not then we must reject
Opposed moral judgements on C.R or Subjective so that there are no such things as M.A.
Kant's approach to ethics was Deontological ­ do what Is right over what is good, basic rights
and principles guide decisions
(Corrie ten Boom, Nazi example ­ Aquinas and Kant would disagree, Kant, the right thing is to tell the
truth no matter what the good is)
Kant: The "Copernican Revolution"
The philosophy of Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) is sometimes called the "Copernican revolution of
philosophy" to emphasize its novelty and huge importance. Kant synthesized (brought together)
rationalism and empiricism. After Kant, the old debate between rationalists and empiricists ended,
and epistemology went in a new direction. After Kant, no discussion of reality or knowledge could
take place without awareness of the role of the human mind in constructing reality and knowledge.
Copernicus worked out the planets orbited the sun, HUGE significance, Kant's notion that all
can know about is our own experience is just as significant
Humans can never know the world as it is.
The world we see is like a reflection in the mirror, we have been pre-programmed.
Link to Plato's cave
Kant's Moral Theory
The Good Will (Kant's starting point for his morality) and Duty
In the search for intrinsic `good', Kant did not believe that any outcome was inherently good.
Pleasure or happiness could result out of the most evil acts. He also did not believe in `good'
character traits, as ingenuity, intelligence, courage etc. could all be used for evil. In fact, he used the
term good to describe the `good will', by which he meant the resolve to act purely in accordance
with one's duty. He believed that, using reason, an individual could work out what one's duty was.
Free Will, God and Immortality
If our actions are pre-determined and we merely bounce around like snooker-balls, we cannot be
described as free and morality doesn't apply to us. Kant could not prove that we are free ­ rather,
he presumed that we could act morally, and for this to be the case we must be free. He also thought

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God and life after death, otherwise morality would make no
sense. Autonomy of the will, Heteronomy is the opposite ­ something = right if it satisfies our desires
Kant Hume (No such thing as Objectivity)
Synthetic a Priori
We do not follow predetermined laws. However, we must act according to some laws,
otherwise our actions are random and without purpose. As a result, rational beings must
determine for themselves a set of laws by which they will act.…read more

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­ our mind imposes this on our experiences to make sense of
them. We therefore could never demonstrate or prove this through experience.
It is like that with the categorical imperative: certain actions are logically inconsistent and
would make no sense as universal laws, such as lying. As a result, `Do not lie' is a categorical
imperative. This understanding that our mind plays an active role in ordering and shaping our
experience was revolutionary, and is Kant's greatest achievement.…read more


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