Deontology - WordPress.com

Deontology - WordPress.com

Recap of Utilitarianism What type of theory is Utilitarianism? Give a basic outline of the three types of UT along with their associated thinkers. Can you remember 3 criticisms of UT? What type of theory is Utilitarianism? Give a basic outline of the three types of UT along with their associated thinkers. Can you remember 3 criticisms of UT? Why might ethical theories focused on motives and intentions have an advantage over a consequence based theory of ethics?

Deontology Duty and Prescriptive Ethics The term deontological is derived from the Greek word deon, meaning duty. So, deontological systems are concerned with describing our moral duties. In contrast with consequentialist systems, deontology is concerned with the intrinsic properties of actions whether they are good or bad in their own right. Deontologists are concerned with absolute duties and principles that must be obeyed intentionally and universally, regardless of the foreseen consequences of ones actions. The most famous moral deontologist is the German philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724-1804). Advantages of Rules

Advantages of Rules What might be the disadvantages? Immanuel Kant Kant lived a very dull life in the late 18th century, never leaving his home town of Knigsburg. His life was so structured that people used to set their watches by his afternoon walks. Still, what Kant lacked in terms of an interesting lifestyle he made up for in the complexity and interest of his philosophy. Kants key work on ethics was the Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals, in which he sought to

establish real ethical duties and values over and against typical human desires (contrast this with Jeremy Benthams psychological hedonism). Kant developed an absolutist and deontological ethical theory working on a priori rules. God and religion were NOT central to his thinking (unlike other deontological theories like Divine Command Theory). He even rejected the traditional arguments for Gods existence. 2 Groups of Philosophers at the time of Kant Rationalists such as Descartes, Spinoza and Leibniz thought that pure reason could tell us how the world is, independent of experience. They thought they

could prove Gods existence, immortality of the soul and freedom with reason alone. For the rationalists, then, philosophy was strictly an a priori enterprise. The empiricists, such as John Locke and David Hume, thought that all knowledge comes from experience and that humans are essentially a blank book on which experience writes. For the empiricists, then, philosophy was strictly an a posteriori enterprise. Rationalism Vs Empiricism

Rationalists such as Descartes, Spinoza and Rationalists: Leibniz thought that pure Innate knowledge of reason could tell us how the world is, independent of moral principles experience. They thought they implanted into us

by could prove Gods existence, God or other means immortality of the soul and freedom with reason alone. and discoverable by reason. For the rationalists, then, philosophy was strictly an a priori enterprise.

The empiricists, such as John Empiricists: Locke and David Hume, thought that all knowledge Morality is a human comes from experience and thatcreation humans are and essentially is a blank book on which based fundamentally experience writes.

on desire. It is about allowing us tothen, live For the empiricists, philosophy was strictly an ais harmoniously and posteriori enterprise. discoverable through experience. Fusing the Rational with Experience Kants genius lies in his attempt to fuse together the rationalist and empiricist approaches. Kant accepts Humes view that in the

world of experience we are largely governed by our desires. However, he refuses to accept that this is all there is. Instead, Kant follows the rationalists in arguing that human reason is a distinct faculty that is somehow independent of the world of experience, and therefore independent of our desires and nature. It is reason that makes us unique, that sets us apart from other animals. Kants view of Human Nature Kants understanding of human nature is best appreciated within the context of: Animals Animals follow their desires and inclinations only. They

have no reason, so behave according to the empirical laws of cause and effect, led by their appetite and instincts. Human nature experiences the tension of desires and inclinations (their animal self) versus the voice of reason (their God-like self) God / Reason Desires & Reason

Desires Inclinations Human Beings God and angels are perfectly rational beings, without appetites and desires to lead them astray from following reason and objective moral laws. 4.3 Phenomenal Realm Phenomenal and Noumenal Realm philosophicalinvestigations.co.uk

Noumenal Realm Now we (kind of) understand his philosophy We can start to look at Kants ethics properly Fusing the Rational with Experience For Kant, reason is the key to ethics. Only when we act according to reason are we truly free (because desires are subject to cause and effect), and only when we are truly free can we truly act morally. Any person with the capacity to reason can come up with moral rules.

The question is, how does reason create these rules and what are they? To start with What is good? It is impossible to conceive anything at all in the world, or even out of it, which can be taken as good without qualification, except a good will The Good Will is the starting point for the whole of Kants ethical theory. It is the only thing that can be good, in and of itself. Even though acting through a good will might produce harm or might produce nothing it must be followed at all costs, it is good through its willing alone.

He therefore rejects any other motives happiness, courage, sympathy on the grounds that they can be sometimes be put to bad uses. But why should we ignore any other motive? Quick Whiteboard Task When might the following goals or aims be used for something or produce something bad? 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

Money Happiness Intelligence Pleasure Health What is a good will? But what does it mean to have a good will? It cant just be a desire to do good or were no closer to understanding morality. Luckily Kant gives us a handy definition of his idea of the good will: A good will is one that acts for the sake of duty. Forget about your inclinations, about what you desire, and dont think about the outcome just do your duty. Doing Your Duty A man is drowning in a river. You could walk on by or you could help. You decide to help, but what is

motivating you? a) You want to help because you think he is a rich and will give you a reward. b) You want to help because you will receive praise (and maybe some attention from the press). c) You want to help because you recognise that he might die and that he should be saved if possible. Which motivation according to Kant is the only one that has moral worth? Why? Doing Your Duty c) You want to help because you recognise that he might die and that he should be saved if possible. Kant would argue that although helping to save the man is the right thing to do, if you saved the man for the other reasons discussed your action would have no moral worth. It would be as if you hadnt performed the action at all. Note the contrast with Utilitarianism here, UTs would argue that it

is the amount of happiness that we produce from an action that is important, not why we did it. Kant is the polar opposite, motives are the main thing, consequences are not a concern. Complete the task on page 259 if you finish it, read the criticism underneath. Is it my duty To preserve life, even though I find it unbearable? To commit suicide when I find life unbearable? To keep my promise, even though my friend will suffer as a result?

To steal the bread because my children are starving? To punish my child? To take care of my parents because they took care of me? To take care of my old parents, even though they didnt take care of me? As a parent to send my child to a good school?

As a motorist to obey traffic lights? As a Nazi to kill Jews? Problem Is a good will always good? Read the criticism on page 259 is the author right? What do you think Kant would say? Defining Duty For the moment then we can identify duty (and therefore the good will) according to Kant as: Doing the right thing for the sake of doing the right thing with no ulterior motivation. Kants view of Human Nature

Another reason why motive is important to Kant is his view that we are imperfectly rational beings. Animals Animals follow their desires and inclinations only. They have no reason, so behave according to the empirical laws of cause and effect, led by their appetite and instincts. Desires & Reason Desires Inclinations Human Beings

Human nature experiences the tension of desires and inclinations (their animal self) versus the voice of reason (their God-like self). God / Reason God and angels are perfectly rational beings, without appetites and desires to lead them astray from following reason and objective moral laws.

4.3 Acting from our desires makes us no better than animals. We should philosophicalinvestigations.co.uk be looking to our reason to guide us, not our base instincts. The Call of Duty Acting from our desires is to act out of self-interest. These motives are subjective, particular to the individual and often in conflict. Instead moral laws should be revealed through reason, objective and universal. If we follow our desires, our actions have no moral worth even if they produce a good result. Only following reason, our good will, and therefore our duty can be truly good, which requires us to sometimes overcome desire. Note: God and the angels wouldnt do the right thing out of a sense of duty, as perfectly rational beings they wouldnt have

the tension between desire and reason to overcome. Theyd just do the right thing without hesitation. The sense of duty only exists BECAUSE there is a conflict between desire and reason. Accordance with Duty Vs Acting Out of Duty Kant emphasises that we must not be motivated out of self-interest, or even out of love or sympathy for others, because emotions and inclinations can be variable, love can be selfish and sympathy narrowly focused or dependent on circumstances. An action is only morally good if the motivation behind it is to do your duty. This is different from simply acting in accordance with our duty. According to Kant, an act which is performed because you want to do it may be the morally right thing to do, but it is not a morally praiseworthy act. An act is only morally good if the motivation behind it was to fulfil your moral duty, regardless of your personal preferences.

Can you think of any issues people might have with this view of morality? Out of Duty Vs Accordance A man is drowning in a river. You could walk on by or you could help. You decide to help, but what is motivating you? a) You want to help because you think he is a rich and will give you a reward. b) You want to help because you will receive praise (and maybe some attention from the press). c) You want to help because you recognise that he might die and that he should be saved if possible. What is the key difference between the three that makes C the only morally praiseworthy act? Problem Duty as morality Who would you say is more moral?

a) Jasmin, who donates to charity begrudgingly because she knows it is her duty to help people who are less fortunate than herself. b) Damien who donates to charity because he wants to help other people and it makes him happy to think people might use his money better than him. According to Kant someone who, through the use of dispassionate reason, recognises her duty to help others in distress even though she doesnt particularly care for other humans is more praiseworthy than someone who would have helped duty or not. Jasmin in this particular case, must act against her natural desires and inclinations. Meanwhile, Damien is led purely by his slavish emotions. Therefore, according to Kant, Jasmin is more morally praiseworthy. Problem Duty as morality Read the activity on page 261 and explain on your whiteboards the issue it highlights with Kants theory. But what is our duty? As weve said so far, our duty is to do the right thing for the sake

of doing the right thing. We can work out what the right thing is by using our reason (something all humans have and sets us apart from animals) to identify clear moral laws. Our task for the rest of this discussion is to identify what moral laws reasonable, rational beings would come up with. Tasks Whiteboard First! 1. What does Kant think is the only thing that is good without qualification? Why does he discount other things we sometimes call good? 2. How does he define the good will? 3.

What does Kant mean by duty? Why do humans need this whilst animals and God dont? 4. What is the difference between acting in accordance with duty and acting out of duty? 5. Why does Kant think the idea of moral duties and laws should apply to all humans? A Quick Summary So Far 1. Having good intentions (good will) is good in itself, regardless of what it achieves. 2. To have a good will is to be motivated by duty. 3. Being motivated by duty means doing what is right, regardless of desires / emotions.

4. Being motivated by duty therefore means being motivated by reason, rather than desires or instincts. This is something humans can do. 5. Even if our desires or instincts coincide with our duty (accordance) its still not morally praiseworthy to act on them. Its only moral if we act purely out of duty. 6. Reason is universal; the same for everyone. 7. Moral duties are universal; the same for everyone. 8. Reason should therefore be used determine what our moral duties are. Tasks Whiteboard First! 1. What does Kant think is the only thing that is good without qualification? Why does he discount other things we sometimes call good? 2.

How does he define the good will? 3. What does Kant mean by duty? Why do humans need this whilst animals and God dont? 4. What is the difference between acting in accordance with duty and acting out of duty? 5. Why does Kant think the idea of moral duties and laws should apply to all humans? A Quick Summary So Far

1. Having good intentions (good will) is good in itself, regardless of what it achieves. 2. To have a good will is to be motivated by duty. 3. Being motivated by duty means doing what is right, regardless of desires / emotions. 4. Being motivated by duty therefore means being motivated by reason, rather than desires or instincts. This is something humans can do. 5. Even if our desires or instincts coincide with our duty (accordance) its still not morally praiseworthy to act on them. Its only moral if we act purely out of duty. 6. Reason is universal; the same for everyone. 7. Moral duties are universal; the same for everyone. 8. Reason should therefore be used determine what our moral duties are. What does a moral law look like? 1. Like scientific laws they should be objective (since being subjective would mean they are subject to

peoples desires and concerned with consequences in individual situations). 2. They should also be universal (since all humans have the capacity to reason and therefore do their duty). 3. From this we can conclude that moral laws should be general rules that outline how we should act that we can then apply to specific circumstances. 4. Putting all this together Kant comes up with The Categorical Imperative The Categorical Imperative is a deontological rule or guideline which tells me whether my possible actions might be good. And it is always expressed by the command I ought In calling moral imperatives categorical, Kant contrasts them with hypothetical imperatives. These state that You ought to do something if. you want to be happy/avoid pain/ etc. Hypothetical imperatives are called hypothetical,

because they are always conditional on our own individual self-interest or desires. (Bad!!!) Categorical Imperatives, on the other hand, are not concerned with ifs. They are straightforward commands which enable us to fulfil our duty. The Categorical Imperative 1.) Act only on that maxim through which you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law. 2.) Act in such a way that you always treat

humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, never simply as a means, but always at the same time as an end. 3.) Every rational being must so act as if he were through his maxims always a law- The Categorical Imperative Categorical = unconditional commands binding on everyone at all times, based on reason, not feelings. Categorical imperative: you ought to tell the truth (Kant called these maxims, or general

rules). Hypothetical imperative: you ought to tell the truth if no-ones hurt by it (a hypothesis is an if statement eg if it suits you, lie, so rightness depends on your goals or feelings). 4.10 Categorical or hypothetical? Be nice to your granny so she will leave you money in her will. Preserve life. I should do more sit ups. Tell the truth so people will trust you. I shouldnt steal as much as I do. NB Hypotheticals dont always have an if!!! The Categorical Imperative Categorical Imperatives are categorical because their function is not to advise us how

to satisfy our self-interest or desires; instead, they command us how to act irrespective of our interests or desires. The Categorical Imperative is therefore absolute; it is absolutely binding on us, irrespective of our desires or our situation. Kant famously presents three versions or formulations of the Categorical Imperative. Although he considers them all to be part of the same moral law. The first two are absolutely central to his ethical theory, and its imperative that you know these inside out. The Categorical Imperative 1.) Act only on that maxim through which you

can at the same time will that it should become a universal law. 2.) Act in such a way that you always treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, never Formula of Nature - Universalisability Act as if the maxim of your action were to become through your will a universal law. Whilst hypothetical imperatives are based on desires and ends. Categorical imperatives are not, as desires are not universal.

Stripped of desires and ends we can only base our categorical imperative on the idea of reason and rationality itself. It is imperative that I act in a way that is consistent with rationality, in other words a way all rational beings could act. Since all humans are rational beings, it makes sense to say that I should only act according to principles that we could all follow. Thus I should only act according to principles that could be universalised. Formula of Nature - Universalisability Act as if the maxim of your action were to become through your will a universal law. In order to pinpoint whether a maxim has moral worth, and truly springs from the good will, we have to ask ourselves the following question: Would you like other people, who find themselves in the same situation as you, to always act in the same way? If not, you are involved in a contradiction and what you are thinking

of doing goes against reason and the good will. This is immoral, because it goes against our nature as rational human beings. Can you think of 2 actions that can be universalised and 2 that cant? Formula of Nature - Universalisability Act as if the maxim of your action were to become through your will a universal law. Take, for example, promise keeping. If you decide that youre going to break a promise, then that clearly involves you in a contradiction. Imagine if everyone else acted the same way. Wed then have a world in which no promises were kept. Thats clearly a contradiction, since a promise, by definition, is

something you keep, so if we had a world in which no promises were kept, wed have a world without promises. Formula of Nature - Universalisability Act as if the maxim of your action were to become through your will a universal law. For Kant there are two possible reasons a law could not be universalised: Contradictions of the laws of nature / conception these cannot be universalised as they are self contradictory. For example, everyone should make false promises impossible since promises require that someone would believe you, and if everyone made false promises, no one would believe anyone. Contradictions in the will these are not contradictory in themselves, but no one could wish to see them universalized. For example dont help others in need something we all need at some point in our lives, so would not wish to see universalised.

The Four Step Program! When it comes to applying Kants first categorical imperative then, there are four steps we should take: Complete the task on page 82 of the textbook. Tasks Whiteboard First! 1. What is the difference between a categorical and hypothetical imperative? Why is Kant more concerned with the former? 2. How does Kant phrase the categorical imperative in his first

formulation? 3. Give an example of a maxim (remember a general law!) that can be universalised. 4. Give an example of a maxim that cannot be universalized, explain whether it is a contradiction in conception (i.e. makes no logical sense) or a contradiction in will (i.e. no-one would rationally want it). Tasks Whiteboard First! 1. What is the difference between a categorical and hypothetical imperative? Why is Kant more concerned with the former?

2. How does Kant phrase the categorical imperative in his first formulation? 3. Give an example of a maxim (remember a general law!) that can be universalised. 4. Give an example of a maxim that cannot be universalized, explain whether it is a contradiction in conception (i.e. makes no logical sense) or a contradiction in will (i.e. no-one would rationally want it). Second Formulation

Think back to Kants law of universalisability we discussed last lesson, couple this with Kants belief that all humans are rational and therefore valuable. Would it be possible to universalise the following maxim? Act as you wish, even if it impedes on someone else's autonomy. If not, why not? Formula of Humanity Act in such as way as you always treat humanity whether in your own person or on the person of any other, never simply as a means, but always at the same time as an end With this formulation of the Categorical Imperative, Kant hits on one of the fundamental principles of morality. We must never treat other human beings as means to an end, but as with worth in themselves. In other words, we mustnt ever treat others instrumentally, or use them, but treat them with the full respect that their humanity deserves. How did Kant reach this? He sees it as a universal self-evident

principle (a priori). It begins with a person observing that one is a rational and free agent and moves to seeing other people in a similar light. Once you recognise this, you realise people in general have intrinsic worth and should not be abused. Formula of Humanity Act in such as way as you always treat humanity whether in your own person or on the person of any other, never simply as a means, but always at the same time as an end Its important to note here that Kant thinks that this formulation has exactly the same meaning (and the same results) as the universal law formulation. He just thinks it presents the idea in a way that is more intuitive. Lets look at some examples Formula of Humanity Act in such as way as you always treat humanity whether in your own person or on the person of any other, never simply as a means, but always at the same time as an end

You acquire a new friend, Sam. Sam goes out of her way to be nice to you, pays you compliments, lets you borrow her fancy camera and even buys you a thoughtful birthday present. However, you find out in reality Sam doesnt like you at all. She only became friends with you in order to meet your cousin who is an up and coming journalist. Sam thinks your journalist cousin could help make her famous. How does this make you feel? Was Sams behavior wrong? Why? How does Kant express this? Formula of Humanity Act in such as way as you always treat humanity whether in your own person or on the person of any other, never simply as a means, but always at the same time as an end Which of the following treats people as ends not means?

Aborting a foetus. Paying a plumber to mend your sink. Blowing up yourself to further a terrorist cause. Abolishing slavery. Paying for something with fake 20 notes.

IVF. Your plain has crashed; in order to survive you resort to cannibalism. Formula of Humanity Act in such as way as you always treat humanity whether in your own person or on the person of any other, never simply as a means, but always at the same time as an end Since this version of the categorical imperative is allegedly the same as the first formulation, we would expect the same results in the situations we looked at last lesson: 1. Go through the situations on page 82 again. 2. For each one ask if the act involved is treating people merely as a means to an end, or as an end in themselves.

3. Decide based on this whether or not the action would be judged right according to Kants second formulation. The Categorical Imperative Categorical imperatives are categorical because their function is not to advise us how to satisfy our self-interest or desires; instead, they command us how to act irrespective of our interests or desires. The categorical imperative is therefore absolute; it is absolutely binding on us, irrespective of our desires or our situation. Kant famously presents three versions or formulations of the categorical imperative. Although he considers them all to be part of the same moral law. It is these formulations that allow us to work out our duty in any situation. The first two are absolutely central to his ethical theory,

and its imperative that you know these inside out. The Categorical Imperative 1.) Act only on that maxim through which you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law. 2.) Act in such a way that you always treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, never simply as a means, but always at the same time as

an end. So what have we covered?... 1. Having good intentions (good will) is good in itself, regardless of what it achieves. 2. To have a good will is to be motivated by duty. 3. Being motivated by duty means doing what is right, regardless of desires / emotions. Following your reason. 4. Since reason is universal, it makes sense that we should only do things that all beings could rationally do / want (first formulation). 5. Since all beings are rational, it would also make sense for us to not use them in a way that violates their inherent value. This also couldnt be universalised. 6. Therefore, rational beings should only be treated as an end in themselves, not merely as a means to an end (second formulation). Tasks Whiteboard First!

1. What is Kants second formulation of the categorical imperative? 2. What does Kant think about humanity that leads to this formulation? 3. Give an example of a maxim (remember a general law!) that would not involve treating a person as a means to an end. 4. Give an example of a maxim that would involve treating a person as a means to an end rather than an end in themselves.

5. Do you think this is a more intuitive version of the categorical imperative than the first formulation? Comparisons to other theories A couple split up. A year later the ex-boyfriend puts various pictures of his ex-girlfriend on the internet. She doesnt discover this. The pictures bring pleasure to others. 1. How would an act Utilitarian respond to this case? 2. How would a rule Utilitarian respond? 3. Do these responses seem intuitively moral?

1. What would Kant say in response to this? 2. What reasons would he give for this response? 3. Does this response seem intuitively moral? Why? Comparisons to other theories A serial killer is on the loose. Thousands of citizens live in a state of fear and demand that the killer be brought to justice. Eventually the mayor selects someone at random from the protesting mob, a man with a known criminal record who is widely disliked. This man is quickly tried, found guilty, and executed. The mob disperses, feeling happy and secure again. 1. How would an act Utilitarian respond to this

case? 2. How would a rule Utilitarian respond? 3. Do these responses seem intuitively moral? 1. What would Kant say in response to this? 2. What reasons would he give for this response? 3. Does this response seem intuitively moral? Why? Kant and Human Rights Kants focus on autonomy and the inherent value of all humans in ethics has been extremely influential. The development of human rights is closely linked to these concepts and many of Kants arguments have been used to support these ideals.

Slavery, false imprisonment, torture, and so on are all ways of treating people as a means to some other end and therefore undermine their autonomy. The basis of all human rights is to enable individual, rational autonomy, and Kants philosophy played a significant part in their development. Tasks Whiteboard First! 1. Use the textbooks (66+) and the handouts to recap the main ideas of Kantian ethics. 2. Ensure you understand: Why Kant argues that humans should follow our rationality over desires. The difference between a categorical and hypothetical imperative. The first formulation of the categorical imperative and some examples

of maxims that would pass / fail. The two ways a maxim can fail (failure in conception / failure of will) The second formulation of the categorical imperative and some examples of maxims that would pass / fail. How the theory might compare to Utilitarianism on the surface. Strengths of the theory What are the

strengths of Kants deontological ethics?

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