Flashcards in Kantian Ethics Deck (19)
Explain the role of reason in kanthan ethics.
Kant believed that we could, through reason, acquire a priori knowledge of duties.
If we based morality on a posteriori reflection, principles would not necessarily be universally binding.
What is the key to intrinsic goodness?
The Good Will
What is the good will?
The resolve to act in accordance with duty.
Why is the good will the only intrinsically good thing?
Any other motive could be pressed into evil deeds - even motives such as compassion.
Explain Kant's distinction between duty and inclination
It is possible for two people to perform identical acts, and only one be morally praiseworthy.
A person who acts out of any inclination - a shopkeeper with an inclination for honesty, for example - is not acting in a morally praiseworthy manner.
How do we identify our duties
Through the categorical imperative
What kind of imperatives must maxims be?
Categorical, not hypothetical
What is the categorical imperative?
A principle which enables us to discern the moral worth of maxims
What are the three key formulations of the categorical imperative?
The universal law formulation, the end in itself formulation, and the Kingdom of ends.
What is the universal law formulation?
Act only on that maxim which you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law
How can we work out if maxims are universalisable?
Contradiction in conception - do they lead us to both will something, while willing that that something does not exist?
Contradiction in willing - do they lead us to will something which we may eventually wish was not the case?
What is the end in itself formulation?
Treat others always at the same time as an end, never merely as a means
Explain the 'end in itself' formulation
Rationality is our defining feature. It provides us with autonomy, and is the source of moral reasoning. We should therefore respect each other's rationality, and not attempt to undermine their free will, by using them solely for our own ends.
What is the Kingdom of ends formulation?
Every rational being must act as if he were through his maxims always a lawmaking member in the universal Kingdom of ends.
Explain the kingdom of ends formulation
Morality is not just something we prescribe to ourselves, but to everyone - we are both legislators and members within society. We should assume that all members of society abide by the same moral rules.
What is the difference between perfect and imperfect duties?
Perfect duties must always be performed; failing to do so would result in a contradiction in conception.
Imperfect duties should also be performed, but we can fulfil them as we wish. Failure to do so results in a contradiction in willing.
Explain euthanasia in relation to perfect and imperfect duties
Not taking life is a perfect duty. Preserving life is an imperfect duty. While one must not kill, one is not strictly obligated to save lives. Passive euthanasia would therefore be justifiable in Kantian terms; the imperfect duty to preserve life would be outweighed by the duty of beneficence.
Why does Kant object to utilitarianism?
What makes people happy differs from person to person. If happiness was the basis of moral motivation, people would be motivated to act in different ways.