Kantian ethics

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  • Created by: Abena
  • Created on: 18-04-13 08:41

Kant believed in objective right and wrong based on reason 

    • Do the right thing just because it is right ('duty for duty's sake')
    • we know what is right using our reason
    • to test a moral maxim, we need to ask whether everyone can follow it - is it universalisable?
    • Kant rejected the idea that all moral judgements are morally relative or subjective
    • According to Kant; right takes precedence over good.
    • Kant's approach is deontological and absolutist because it is not concerned with the consequeneces of an action 
  • Kant's main areas were to investigate; pure reasoning, a priori knowledge, casuality and obectivity (Critique of Pure Reason)
  • Kant's work was a reaction to the rationalists and empricists 
  • He was concerned with the question; 'How do we know what we know and what does it mean to know?' 
  • Kantian ethics aligns more with the views of Rene Descrates ('I think therefore I am') and Gottfried Leibniz ('We can have knowledge untouched by the view of any observer') 
  • ... and opposed to the empricist views of David Hume ('We cannot have any objective knowledge at all')
  • Kant believed that our knowledge is not of the world as it is itself, but of the world as it appears to us
    • If our sense organs were different, the world would appear to us differently
    • thus he argues, human can never know the world as it really is - the world we now see is a phenomenon - All we can know about scientifically is based on our own experiences and perceptions
  • This revalation is as important as the implications of believeing that the solar system revolves around the sun 
  • Science can never really be known as objective reality 
    • Kant calls this the Copernican Revolution 
  • But Kant did think that these categories could be described as objective, as they are the objective categories of our mind i.e. 'pure reason', which tells you what is the case

Kant's Moral Thoery (Groundworks of a Metahysics of Morals)

  • According to Kant...
    •  practical reason =  tells you what ought to be done > sense of moral 'ought'
  • People are aware of the moral law at work within them - not as a vague feeling -  a direct powerful experience
  • Two things fill the mind with awe - 'The starry heavens above me and the moral law within me.'
  • Kant bases morality on reason as opposed to feelings
    • (rejects Hume's idea that morality is rooted in desire or feelings)
    • He does not reject desires +…


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