Kantian Deontology - Introduction
- What is deontology?
- Name another deontologist (Thomas Aquinas)
Kant's deontology is based on reason, duty and moral law.
Thomas Nagel: Intuition alone can identify the moral value of an action, not the consequence. "right not to be mistreated"
Kantian Deontology - Main Body
Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) Metaphysics of Morals
- To act morally is to do ones duty > ones duty is to obey moral law.
- We should not act out of love or compassion.
- Aught implies can. I aught to > I can > I must
- We must have immortal souls because the ultimate end can't be achieved in one lifetime.
- God must exist to provide the opportunity for S.B.
- Kant: "The starry heavens above me and the moral law within me."
Moral knowledge is a priori synthetic. Knowledge is gained before experience but may need testing.
Humans have the freedom to rationalise - animals don't.
Kantian Deontology - Categorical Imperative
1. Principle of Universalisability
- "Do not act on any principle that cannot be universalised."
- Absolutist stance to avoid erroding impact on society.
- "Treat others as you would like to be treated" - Mark 4
2. Treat humanity never merely as a means but as an end in themselves.
- Humans have intrinsic value.
- "Humans were made in the image and likeness of God. - Genesis
- We have a duty to develop our own perfection and the perfection of others.
3. Act as though you are a law making member in a kingdom of ends.
- What is the best course of action for future humanity.
Morally obligatory Vs Desired Ends - "Which of the two incentives he conditions"
Kantian Deontology - Conclusion
(WD Ross, Prima Facie duties) - Fidelity, beneficience, justice.
WT Stace: "There is nothing which has always been regarded as morally good by all men."
Kantian Deontology - Arguments In Favour
- Motivation is valued over consequences. A good motive in itself, is worthy or value.
- Humanitarian - men are treated equally. - NHS.
- Justice is always an absolute, regardless of time or culture.
- Provides objective guidelines for making moral decisions.
- WD Ross - Prima Facie duties free up moral deadlock. "Prima Facie right is self evident"
Kantian Deontology - Arguments Against
JS Mill: When there are conflicting duties, no guidance is given.
Bentham: The unchanging principles are really a matter of subjective opinion. Where does objective morality come from?
William K Frankena: "There is more to moral POV than being willing to universalise ones rules."
- Are we content to know we should do our duty without understanding why?
- How far can a good will mitigate a disastrous outcome?
- Kant makes no allowance for compassion or sympathy as motivation (La Follette)
- Jesus criticised the Pharisees for going by the exact letter of the law.
Against WD Ross > How can you rank Prima Facie duties? Ross thought you could solve this by relying on intuition.