Deotology: Kant's Ethical Theory

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Kant's Ethical theory

What makes a action good??

A person is good then one who does good actions: 

  • Actions are based on the one's moral duty, the motivation behind that action 
  • Good person is one who's choics are produced by one's moral duties 

Virtues themselves are not good BUT the one who possesess them causes the virtue to be good. Hence happiness is not a intristinc good 

  • Happiness can lead to sloth and laziness therefore the will to be virtious can decrease
  • One needs to deserve happiness- those with the good will 

Maxims:  must describe some general sort of situation, and propose a action for that situation can either be for an individual or a generalized form:

Generalized Maxim: Whenever anyone is tired, they will fall asleep

The Categorical imperative: 

1) An act is morally right if and only if it it's maxim is universalizable


Lying about Paying Back Money: A person seeks to borrow money without intending to pay it back. Is this morally acceptable? No, but because of the consequences but because it fails the universality test. If it were a universal action, no person would lend money anymore as he knows that he will never be paid back. Deception, therefore, cannot be universally applied and fails the test of the Categorical Imperative. Likewise, lying would logically contradict the reliability of language. if it is universally acceptable

The Uni test causes us to imagine a maxim and see if it can be used by all without any contradictions. These contradictions can be 

a) the maxim cannot be thought of as a universal law of nature- Perfect duty, an act that we should bot perform 

b) contradiction in will of having that maxim- imperfect duty, an act that should be performed sometimes 

Objections to this Test:

i) The test can produce false staement thus making a wrong decsion on which act is a perfect ot imperfect duty 

ii) The action would still exist only the language would change: Promise breaking would still be there but in a negating form

iii) Conflict of maxims: What happens when two are in conflict? 

  • Do not lie and protect life? Jews that…


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