Kant's Categorical Imperative
- Based on Duty
- To act morally is to do one's duty and one's duty is to obey the moral law
- One should act out of duty, not emotion or feeling
- "Ought implies Can"-moral statements are 'prescriptive'
- Summum Bonum-ultimate end which humans seek, smaller ends must be pursued to lead to this, our souls are immortal as it can't be reached in this life
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Kan'ts Moral Law
- The objective moral law is known through reason.
- Statements of Knowledge-a priori analytic:knowable without reference to experience, a posteriori synthetic:knowable through experience using empirical measurements.
- Moral Statements are a priori synthetic-our knowledge of it is gained through pure reason-we may be mistaken, thus moral statements may be right or wrong.
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Good Will and Duty
- Good Will is the highest form of Good-not dependent on consequences.
- The Will is supremely autonomous and free. (Freedom is necessary for morality to be possible.)
- A Good Will is one that acts out of duty alone.
- Actions performed for the sake of duty have moral worth.
- Duty is acting out of reverence for the law, which is objective and universal
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- A Hypothetical Imperative is a requirement for something if you want to achieve something else: a means to an end.
- Morality prescribes behaviour and the Categorical Imperative gives parameters to moral law.
- The Categorical Imperative is universal: an end in itself.
- The only actions to be followed are those that can be universalised.
- Suggested morals that are only right in certain circumstances are not valid.
- You must act as if you live in a kingdom of ends.
- Humans should be treated as ends in themselves.
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- E.K provides a powerful set of principles to enforce moral conduct that we would commonly accept, based on reason.
- Treating people as ends in themselves underpins the idea of human rights.
- Kant distinguishes duty from inclination so that our moral conduct does not become influenced by an individual subjective view.
- The moral rightness or wrongness is intrinsic through a process of reason.
- As moral situations differ, how are the parameters to be set to determine what is universalised?
- There may be times when duties conflict
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- By basing his ethics on reason, Kant avoids dependence on a 'divine' natural law, or mystical Platonic Forms, to justify his deontological ethics.
- Kant's theory upholds the concept of human rights.
- There are some difficulties with the internal workings of the Categorical Imperative for it to be a complete success
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- A Priori Synthetic : moral statements as they are known before experience through reason and yet may be right or wrong.
- Categorical Imperative : only acting according to universalisable principles, treating people as ends in themselves, and acting as if you lived in a kingdom of ends.
- Deontological : ethical theories that focus on acts instead of consequences.
- Duty : doing only that which is approved by the Categorical Imperative out of Good Will.
- Good Will : the highest good; the impetus to follow duty rather than emotion or personal inclination.
- Hypothetical Imperative : acting only if a specific outcome is desired and not otherwise.
- Moral Law : an objective moral law known through the application of reason.
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