Kantian Ethics

  • Created by: amyquince
  • Created on: 10-06-19 12:51

GOOD WILL

- the only truly intrinsically good thing, having good motives and intentions

- 'good will shines like a precious jewel'

- kant aruges that it doesnt matter if we are prevented from carrying out our intentions; what matters is that we aim to do the right thing.

- this good will is the desire to do 'duty for dutys sake'

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DUTY

- the action that is morall required

- duty is not:

- doing the right thing out of self interest or because of consequences

- doing the right thing out of inclination (becasue we feel like it)

- duty is that which we rationally work out that we ought to do

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AUTONOMY AND MAXIMS

- AUTONOMY - 'self-ruling' - the belief that we are free and able to make our own decisions

- MAXIM - another word fo moral rules or principles. they are things that we act upon

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HYPOTHETICAL IMPERATIVES

- moral obligation that is dependant upon desiring the goal in question

- a command that we follow in order to acheive something

- eg. do your homework in order to pass the course

- command only applies in certain cases or is dependant on the outcome, then it is not a moral duty.

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CATEGORICAL IMPERATIVES

- a command which is logically followed and is not dependant on the result

- eg. do not kill

- something unconditional about the command

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KANT'S THREE FORMULATIONS

- UNIVERSAL LAW - Kant suggests that the action that we propose should be able to be made a universal law. eg: 'i am planning to steal you work. if everyone were to steal things all the time then it would be chaotic so one rule cant just apply to one person. 

- MEANS TO AN END - should not use people as a means to an end. eg. you break up with your boyfriend so start seeing someone new to make the original boyfriend jealous. this is using the new boyfriend as a means to an end

- KINGDOM OF ENDS - a hypothetical state where people always acted based on moral rules and treated others with respect. eg. someone hits you, legally your allowed to hit them back but moraly you decide not to.

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APPLYING KANTIAN ETHICS

- LYING TO MURDERERS - murderer asks you where his victim is, according to kants maxim of universalisation we are morally required to tell the truth. kant argues by telling the truth we have done our duty in doing so it is the murderer that is behaving immorally - ABSOLUTIST so no flexibility around circumstances. DEONTOLOGICAL - focusing on action itself

- MY SISTERS KEEPER - using the new sister as a means to an end so is problematic for kant

- CHARITY - on one day we may be moved by a chaity advert and on another day may remain completely indifferent, this makes no sense to kant; either it is our duty to help others where we can or it is not. RATIONAL - seeks to make decisions based on logic not emotion

- BUSINESS ETHICS - ruthless employer may be able to make more money by paying employees the bare minimum and denying them regular breaks. he also may choose to over charge customers. kant prevents this with his focus on treating people with respect. the shopkeeper should not behave honestly because it is good business, he should do so because it is the right thing to do. - modern ideas on HUMAN RIGHTS owe much to kantian ethics.

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ISSUES WITH DUTY

- requires us to put our own feelings aside

- conflicting duties - we have a duty to tell the truth to the murderer but we also have a duty to protects lives

- concept of duty can be abused - eg, the holocaust.

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THREE POSTULATES

- assumptions that have to be in place in order to morality to function:

- WE HAVE FREE WILL - if we are not free to do our own thing then there is no moral responsibility

- THERE IS AN AFTERLIFE, WE ARE IMMORTAL - argues that morality requires a summum bonum (heighest good) to be acheived. this is where perfect virtue (good deeds) are rewarded with perfect happiness.

- GOD EXISTS - in order for summum bonum to happen there must be a God that exists in order to ensure justice for the universe.

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STRENGTHS

- principle of universal law seems to provide useful principle in making good moral decisions

- following on from this, the appeal to concepts such as reason and duty make kantian ethics impartial and less prone to personal bias

- respects intrinsic value of persons

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WEAKNESSES

- intuitively it seems that outcome does matter so kant is wrong to ignore it

- too abstract and theoretical - offers perfect solutions based on a hypothetical kingdom of ends, yet it cannot cope with the real world

- better at showing things we ought to do rather than showing what we should do.

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JOHN RAWLS

- influenced by kantian ethics

- argued that justice is whatever we would agree to from behind the VEIL OF IGNORANCE

- hypothetical idea where we would have to agree the moral and political laws we would wish to live by before knowing what our position in life would be. 

- eg. we would ban racisim and homophobia if we did not know whether we were to be born black or white, gay or straight. 

- treat person with respect

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