Kantian Deontological Ethics Flashcards Preview

Moral Philosophy > Kantian Deontological Ethics > Flashcards

Flashcards in Kantian Deontological Ethics Deck (8)
Loading flashcards...
1

What is a summary of Deontology?

-The only thing that is good without qualification is good will.
-Good will means acting for the sake of duty.
-You have a duty to follow the moral law.
-Moral laws are universal.
-You can tell is a maxim is universal if it passes the categorical imperative.
-The categorical imperative is two tests:
-Contradiction in conception
-Contradiction in will
-Finally, do not treat people as means to an end.

2

What is the good will?

-Good Will is one that acted for the sake of duty. This, according to Kant is the source of moral worth.

-Save someone’s life because you recognise you have a duty to do so, not for a financial reward. If you do it for the former reason then the action does have moral worth.

3

Outline and explain the categorical imperative and the 2 tests within it.

-There are 2 kinds of maxims (rules).
-Hypothetical rules are qualified by an ‘if’ statement e.g. ‘you should do your hw if you want to do well in your exam’.
-Categorical rules are universal and imperative e.g. ‘you shouldn’t torture animals’.

1) Contradiction in conception:
-For example stealing. It is self-contradictory. If a maxim leads to this then you have a perfect duty not to follow that maxim. It is always wrong.

2)Contradiction in will:
-Whether we can rationally will a maxim or not. For example ‘not to help anyone’. We sometimes have goals that need someone’s help to achieve it.

4

What is the humanity formula to Kants Categorical imperative?

-‘Act In such a way that you always treat humanity never simply as means, but always as an end’.

-So essentially don’t use someone. E.g. tricking someone into marrying you for money. Don’t deceive others.
-You have to treat them as an end so that they can make an informed decision and then the action is morally justified.

5

What is the criticism that it is difficult to apply?

-By defining maxims cleverly it seems possibly to justify any course of action using the Categorical imperative.

-For example. Only stealing from people with 9 letters in their name. Or only stealing from stores that begin with A.

-Both of these maxims can be universalised without undermining the concept of private property. They would apply rarely enough that there would be no breakdown in the concept of private property.

6

What is the criticism that it ignores consequences?

-The Trolley problem.
-There’s a strong intuition that consequences matter. If you could stop a madman from detonating a nuclear bomb by killing him surely it is justifiable to do so?

-However, Kant would argue that we have a perfect duty not to murder (apart from self-defence).
- The problem with such rigid rules is drawn out further in the lies section of applied ethics. Kant argues that we have a perfect duty not to lie – even if telling a lie would save someone’s life.

-These thought experiments draw out the absurd results of ignoring consequences in ethical decision making.

7

What is the challenge that it ignores other valuable motivations?

-In the discussion of the good will, we saw how Kant argues that acting for the sake of duty is the source of moral worth.

-In other words, being motivated by duty is the only motivation that has moral worth.

-So, imagine a close friend is ill in hospital. You pay them a visit because you genuinely like them and want to make sure they’re ok. According to Kant, this motivation (concern for your friend) has no moral value.

-However, if you didn’t really care about your friend but begrudgingly went to visit purely out of duty, this would have moral value according to Kant.

-But this seems absurd. Kant seems to be saying we should want to help people because of duty, not because we genuinely care.

8

What is the criticism that there are conflicts between duties?

-Kant argues that it is never acceptable to violate a perfect duty.

-But what if you find yourself in a situation where such a situation was unavoidable? For example, what if you had to either steal or tell a lie and there was no other option? Or, what if you accidentally made two separate promises that contradicted each other?

-Kant might respond that a true conflict between duties is impossible.

-But if there were such a conflict, then it seems that whatever choice you make will be wrong as it will mean violating a perfect duty.