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  • Created by: josie
  • Created on: 26-02-14 18:44


  • Absolutist and rule based.
  • Certain actions are wrong in themselves regardless of the consequences.
  • We should follow rules to prevent us performing bad actions- Deontological constraints. 
  • Moral laws apply universally in all situations and are binding on moral agents.
  • Hypothetical imperative- what we ought to do to fulfill our wishes. How to acheieve an end.
  • Categorical imperative: An end in itself. What we ought to do regardless of our wishes.
  • Categorical imperatives are an expression of absolute and unconditional duty.
  • These can be established a priori through human reason.
  • Three ways:1) principle of universalizability. 2) the formula of the end in itself. 3) the formula for kingdom of ends.
  • The categorical test provides a set of deontological moral rules that cannot be broken.
  • The right action must have the correct motivation - a sense of duty.
  • Acting in this way is "The greatest perfection of a human being"

Support- plausible:

1) Universally binding- captures the absolute nature of morality many believe it to have. If a moral command is not universally applicable it can be disregarded/changed/manipulated. The command is then secondary to the reason for breaking the command but what is good/right ought to be of highest significance/impotance.

2) The categorical imperative sits well with the idea that morality involves treating all individuals as equally valuable.

Against- relationship between morality and universalizability

  • Examples- some maxims that can be universalised that are not duties- "don't hold your fork in your left hand"/ "don't walk on the cracks in the pavement".
  • Both are consistent with the criterion but neither are moral duties.
  • How do we deicded which universalized maxims are moral duties and which aren't/what basis?

Support- motives vs consequences

  • Consequences are beyond our control- irrelevant. Cannot know them.
  •  Only directly responsible for our own actions.
  • Suggestion motivation is significant appears correct.
  • Example: Praise someone who acted out of duty to do the right thing even if it led to a decrease in happiness.
  • Focusing on the action and the motivation when making a moral judgement appears to be the most reliable way of making an informed judgement.

Against- Conflicts of duty and importance of consequences

  • The categorical nature of deontology leads to a conflict of duty. Kant insisted there…


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