Religion and Ethics - Kantian Ethics

What are Kant's theories not rooted in?
Religion (they don't go by religious rules).
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What is reason the key to?
All knowledge
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What do we have to determine (by ourselves)?
Our own values, rather than expecting them to be delivered from a higher authority.
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What kind of theory is Kantian Ethics?
Deontological.
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What does deontological mean?
Actions over the consequences (focuses on the action first).
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What is a universal tool which all humans have?
Reason
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What is too subjective that reason isn't?
Emotions (they cloud the mind).
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What did Kant say about good-will?
''Good-will shines forth like a precious jewel?''
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Why are humans the only moral creatures?
Because we have free-will - the ability to freely choose our moral decisions. You can only be moral if you have choice/freedom.
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What is transcendental idealism?
The notion that the rational mind is what humans can use to sort out the world.
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Why did Kant believe that teleology was not an effective way of behaving morally?
Because pleasure and happiness (outcome) could result out of the most evil of actions.
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What did Kant believe that good character traits could ultimately be used for?
Can be used as an instrument of evil. E.g if you're intelligent (which is a good thing), you might still use your intelligence to do evil.
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What did Kant use the term ''good'' to describe?
To describe good-will.
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What is good-will?
The ability to act in accordance with one's moral duty.
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What did Kant argue ethical statements were?
A priori-synthetic. A priori meaning knowledge that comes without sense experience and synthetic meaning that the knowledge may be true or false but needs sensual verification.
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What is the first of the Three Ethical Postulates?
Freedom/free-will.
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What is the significance of moral freedom?
Without moral freedom, our actions would be determined and there would be no point in morality. Kant presumed that because we can act morally, we must be free.
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What is the second of the Three Ethical Postulates?
God
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What is the significance of God in Kant's theory?
We can't be behaving morally for nothing. A sense of duty must be evoked by something. The world is designed so I act one way rather than another.
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What is the third of the Three Ethical Postulates?
The greater good/immortality. Also known as the ''summum-bonum''.
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What is the significance of the summum-bonum?
Since we aren't rewarded for good morality in this life, it must come in the next.
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What are some weaknesses of freedom?
Freedom dismisses emotion and human instinct. Aquinas argued for a conscience, that people have a different view about what is right and what is wrong. Morality is different to each of us.
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What are some weaknesses of God in Kant's theory?
Relies on there being a God in the first place for us to be able to act morally. If God gave us true free-will, then we would be able to make our own decisions instead of always taking the moral high-ground.
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What are some weaknesses of the summum-bonum in Kant's theory?
Relies on the after-life for reward of our moral behaviour. Kant does not elaborate on the existence of an after-life. ''Ought'' does not always imply ''can'', just because you ought to do something doesn't necessarily mean you can.
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What is the hypothetical imperative?
Implies ''if''. E.g ''If you want to lose weight, you should go to the gym''. Significance of ''hypothetical'' - based on ideas/situations.
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What is the categorical imperative?
The opposite of the hypothetical imperative. Does not imply an ''if'' only a ''should'' or ''must'' (sense of duty). E.g ''you must not tell lies''. Never subject or relative to a situation.
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Why can't we decide to do things which we will benefit from (bring a good outcome)?
Because that is not true morality. Morality should not be self or outcome centred - it should be duty centred - practical and effective.
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What is the first of the Three Universal Maxims?
Similar to golden rule (but not the same).Universal. A person's actions should become applicable to everyone, i.e when making a moral decision you must imagine everyone else in the world doing it (e.g dropping litter would be wrong/telling a lie).
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What is the second of the Three Universal Maxims?
Ends over means. You should not treat people as means to an end (i.e use them in your moral thinking). In this sense, a human being is the most important in a moral equation. We must not make other beings suffer because of our wants.
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How does Kant illustrate ends over means?
In his Axeman Analogy: if an axeman showed up at your house wanting to know where your children are a), you cannot lie, b) if you lie you are using him as a means to an end.
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What is the final of the Three Universal Maxims?
A kingdom of ends. You must act as if you are the king of your own moral kingdom, i.e take what you do seriously, you are in charge of your own moral compass. Behave as if every individual is an end. Don't use people and don't let them use you.
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What would Kant say about stem cell research?
Assuming an embryo is a human being, stem cell research would be wrong. The embryo becomes a means to an end (you are using it purely for the stem cell research).
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What would Kant say about an atom bomb?
Defended on utilitarian grounds but it meant using the Japanese people as a means to an end. You also cannot universalise the atom bomb example since everyone would die.
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What would Kant say about sending someone to prison?
If the imprisonment is a method of keeping a dangerous person away from society, then they are being used as a means to an end. If prison is supposed to reform them, their free-will is taken away.
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What are some strengths of Kant's categorical imperative?
Applies the same rules to everyone so easy to follow, no ''blurred lines''. Legalistic, therefore more reliable. Makes humans more altruistic. Everyone receives the same treatment.
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What are some weaknesses of Kant's categorical imperative?
Can we really have a general rule that can be applied to every situation? Ignores the emotions/passions/desires. Conflict of duty (Jean Paul Sartre). Can everyone make these rational decisions based on good will?
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How does Jean Paul Sartre criticise Kant?
Moral dilemma of the man whose father has died in battle and his mother remains a widow. He has to choose between caring for his mother or fighting for his father. A dilemma we cannot answer.
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How does Peter Singer criticise Kant?
Morality should not be so human-centric.
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