- Kant presents a moral theory which gives moral responsibility to the individual, rather than an external authority.
- Humans are free to make rational choices. If people were not free, the possibility of making moral choices would be denied. Rational freedom means humans have dignity and this is what sets them apart from other animals and objects.
- Pure reason offers a firm moral foundation within individuals.
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- The categorical imperative prohibts acts that would commonly be considered immoral.
- Kant distinguishes between duty and inclination.
- Kant's theory gives humans intrinsic worth, which can't be sacrificed for the majority.
- Kant's system can't resolve conflicting duties.
- Universalisability generalises different but similar moral dilemas.
- Kant focuses on reason in moral decision but human beings are also loving, emotional creatures motivated by feelings as well as thoughts.
- Kant's sense of duty places profound responsibility in human moral action, alongside the freedom and authority which he gives.
- Some argue that such authority to make moral laws is too much to trust for human beings and that an exterior source is necessary.
- The centrality of the value of the individual human person not to be used for some other end in Kantian thinking is similar to religious ideas about the value of human life.
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Kant's deontological ethics
- Deontological theories are concerned with actions, not consequences.
- Kant's therory is deontological because it is based on duty. To act morally is to do one's duty, and one's duty is to obey moral law.
- Ought implies can
- Humans seek an ultimate end called the supreme good, the summum bonum, so, for kant, morality led to God.
- Moral statements are 'a priori synthetic' (reason, not sense experience)
- The highest form of good is good will. To have good will is to do one's duty.
- To do one's duty is to perform actions that are morally required by the universal law.
- We should act out of duty, and not emotion; Kants ethic is reason based not intuitive.
- Moral statements are categorical - they prescribe irrespective of the result.
- Treat humans as ends in themselves.
- Act as if you live in a kingdom of ends.
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