Kant's Deontology- RS A2 Ethics Revision

What are Deontological theories?
They are absolutist and are concerned with actions and not consequences. Moral value is conferred by virtue of the action in themselves. If a certain act is wrong, then it is wrong in all circumstances and in all conditions (universal).
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Why is Kant's theory Deontonogical?
It is based on Duty (deon). To act morally is to do one's duty and to do one's duty is to obey the moral law. Kant argued we should not be sidetracked by feeling and inclination; we should not act out of love.
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What does Kant believe about lack of freedom?
It was not our duty to do things we are unable to do (lack of freedom) The fact we OUGHT to do something implies we CAN (it is possible) do it.
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What does Kant claim about the Summum Bonum?
Humans seek the ultimate end or the highest good (SB), a state in which human virtue and happiness are united. However, since it is impossible for humans to achieve this during one lifetime, he claimed we must have immortal souls to succeed.
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What does Kant's ethical theory claim about God?
Whilst rejecting theologian arguments for the existence of a theistic God, his ethical theory assumes immortality and a Deistic God's existence. He believed God and the afterlife must exist to provide opportunity for achieving the Summum Bonum.
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What is the Deontological Moral Law?
'Two things fill the mind with ever new and increasing admiration and awe... the starry heavens above me and the moral law within me'- Critique of Practical Reason. Kant believed there was an Objective Moral Law and that we know this through reason.
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Describe the terms A Priori and A Posteriori, and Analytic and Synthetic.
A Priori- statements are knowable without reference to experience. A Posteriori- statements are knowable through experience. Analytic- a statement needs no further checking to verify it (definition). Synthetic- a statement requires further verifying.
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What are factual statements according to Kant?
Either 'a priori analytic'(APA) or 'a posteriori synthetic' (APS).
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What does Kant believe about moral statements, and a priori synthetic?
Moral statements are not APA or APS. We cannot prove what people should do by looking, but it is gained by pure reason, not sense experience. They may also be right or wrong, so to Kant they are 'a priori synthetic'.
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What is the highest form of good according to Kant?
'Good will shines forth like a precious jewel.'- Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals. Kant argues the highest for of good is good will. To have good will is to do one's duty; to perform actions morally required, and avoid those morally forbidden
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What did Kant mean by saying 'Duty is good in itself'?
To perform an action out of desire for the good consequences (utilitarianism) is to act in self-interest, and is not morally good. Duty is good in itself. He acknowledged that happiness is also good, & that it comes as a reward through good will.
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What did Kant believe about acting out of emotion?
We should act out of duty and NOT emotion. A human action isn't morally good because we feel that it's good; I may act out of kindness, generosity or compassion, but in these circumstances the act confers not virtue to me.
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Why are we moral according to Kant?
We;re not moral for the sake of love, but for the sake of duty. He argued duty and reason can help guide our emotions, so we aren't ruled by them. Unlike Aristotle, Kant assumes moral duties already exist.
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What is an absolute order in terms of the Categorical Imperative according to Kant?
Kant argues that morality prescribes moral behaviour. Once you are aware of a moral requirement, you awareness is a reason for doing something. Moral statements are categorical in that they prescribe actions irrespective of the result.
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What is Kant's Categorical Imperative compared to Hypothetical Imperatives?
The CI differs from the HI, which doesn't prescribe or demand any action. Hypothetical imperatives are conditional- 'I I want x, I must do y'- 'If I want to lose weight, I ought to go on a diet.' Hypothetical imperatives are not moral.
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What is the 1st principle (The Universal Law) to Kant's CI?
'Do not act on any principle that cannot be universalised' (GFTMOM) Moral laws must be applied in all situations and all rational being universally without exception. If an action is right to me, its right for everyone, likewise if it's wrong.
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What is the 2nd principle (Treat Humans as ends in themselves) to Kant's CI?
You can never treat people as means to an end. You can ever use human beings for another purpose, or exploit them. This guarantees that all individuals are afforded the same moral protection.
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What is the 3rd principle (Act as if you live in a kingdom of ends) to Kant's CI?
'So act as if you were, through your maxim, a law-making member of a kingdom of ends.' (TMOM) You can't act on a rule that assumes that others don't treat people as ends. You can't create a maxim such as 'I may lie as all others lie'.
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What is Kant's view on freedom?
Kant believed humans were free to make rational choices. If people were not free, the possibility of making moral choices would be denied. This ability to freely rationalise is what distinguishes humans from animals, who lack this ability.
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For Kant, how does freedom link with duty?
We have to be free to do our duty (the CI) but if our choices are not free, and our actions are controlled by factors beyond our control, then we can't be moral. 'Ought' implies 'can'- something that's impossible can't be a moral option.
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STRENGTHS: Why is the Categorical Imperative strong?
The CI is a powerful set of moral principles tat prohibit acts that would be commonly considered wrong, such as theft, murder, **** and fraud. That bind us to a set of rules that apply to everyone and that command respect for human life.
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STRENGTHS: What is Kant's 1st apparent contribution?
He makes a distinction between duty and inclination- morality is more than personal preference.
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STRENGTHS: What is Kant's 2nd apparent contribution?
Kant insists that you can't promote happiness of that happiness undermines another's happiness. The moral value of an action comes from its intrinsic rightness in itself. This means that justice is impartial, and justice for individuals is guarded.
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STRENGTHS: What is Kant's 3rd apparent contribution?
Kant's theory gives humans intrinsic worth as the rational high point of creation. humans can only ever be treated as ends in themselves, never as means. Therefore, humans can't be expended for some apparent greater good. They can't be enslaved.
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WEAKNESSES: What weakness comes from Kant's 'means to an end' claim?
The refusal to allow exceptions in using people as mean to an end places server restrictions on our behaviour. A government can't sacrifice the few for the man, and yet sometimes. in war, such a sacrifice is politically necessary for majority good.
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WEAKNESSES: Why can Kant's universability be a weakness to his arguments?
The problem of different but similar moral dilemmas. Are two moral dilemmas the same, and covered by the same maxim? Are murder and self-defence both to be covered by one maxim about taking human life, or can some kinds of killing be justified?
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WEAKNESSES: What does W D Ross believe about judging people on consequences?
He argued that the notion of acting out of motivation is incoherent as we can't choose why we act, only how we will act. He did not believe that consequences are the only way to judge morality, other things, such as helping others, can too.
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WEAKNESSES: What does W D Ross claim about conflicting Prima Facie duties?
A conflict between 2 PFD doesn't negate one or both but is rather a conflict between things that matter and which is resolved. Unlike Kant, Ross believed the only way to moral knowledge is through moral experience.
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WEAKNESSES: On what grounds can W D Ross' weakness towards Kant be criticised?
Ross appears to offer a middle way between Consequentialism and Deontology, but his approach may be criticised for its lack of attention to the issue of rights. If we cannot tell in advance which duties are most important, then they become subjective
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WEAKNESSES: How does Jeremy Bentham criticise Deontology?
He criticised it on the grounds that it is essentially an intellectualised version of popular morality, and that the unchanging principles that deontologists attribute to universal reason are really a matter of subjective opinion.
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WEAKNESSES: What weakness does J S Mill bring out for Kant?
He argued that deontologists generally fail to specify when principles should take precedence when rights and duties conflict.
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WEAKNESSES: How does Alistair Macintyre criticise Kant's use of the Categorical Imperative?
He observed 'It follows that in practice the test of the Categorical Imperative imposes restrictions only on those insufficiently equipped with ingenuity', and this is scarcely what Kant intended.
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WEAKNESSES: How does Charles Fried criticise Kant?
He stated 'That which is permissible should be the focus of the deontologists concerns: After having avoided wring and down one's duty, an infinity of choices is still left to the made.'
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A good conclusion to a Kant Deontology essay?
MAKIE IT PERSONAL AND ACADEMIC! It is not always clear what duty, if any, takes priority in a given case. If this happens, we may need to make decisions of our own, based on intuition of other ethical theories. Deontology may then fail.
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Card 2


Why is Kant's theory Deontonogical?


It is based on Duty (deon). To act morally is to do one's duty and to do one's duty is to obey the moral law. Kant argued we should not be sidetracked by feeling and inclination; we should not act out of love.

Card 3


What does Kant believe about lack of freedom?


Preview of the front of card 3

Card 4


What does Kant claim about the Summum Bonum?


Preview of the front of card 4

Card 5


What does Kant's ethical theory claim about God?


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