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Maxims- Duty to Moral Laws.docx

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PHIL 1100

Maxims: Duty to Moral Laws  Immanuel Kant (1724-1804)  Deontology: the ethical view that moral value is determined by fulfilling one’s duty o Deon = Duty o What we ought to do o Universal o Reason  Kant attempts to establish the universal reason and morality  Those laws and foundations are a “priori” o A law that is a priori is one that we can be certain is true independently of its application to actual experience  Priori = prior to experience  Moral ideals function as commands  Pure reason vs. Change  Ethics o Meta (good?) o Normative (good behaviour?) o Application (abortion? Euthanasia?)  Top- down vs. Bottom-up  Kant uses a top-down approach (Normative  Descriptive)  Moral / Immoral / Non-moral  Motivist o Intentions  not a consequence  Kantian Ethics o The preeminent good, which we call moral, can therefore consist in nothing else than the conception of law itself, which certainly is only possible in a rational being. o Apply reason  Good Will o Intentions through good will o Good will = irreducible source of moral value o If you do actions with good will, then it is the right thing to do o Cannot use emotions to determine good and bad o Good even if it fails o Can be corrupted by inclinations o Reason reigns in good will  Imperatives  create a sense of moral obligation  what we ought to do o Reason and will + Maxims (Proposition) o Hypothetical (HI) + Categorical (CI) o Hypothetical Imperative = If P then Q. o Categorical Imperative = Example: Killing is wrong.  These statements do not need further justification. They are morally obligated.  No conditional or additional claims (P.)  Maxim: a moral law  Hypothetical Imperative: a moral maxim that does not express a value that one should pursue independently, instead, the action being commanded by the maxim is seen only as a means to something else o If ___ then ___. o If you want to be charitable, then you should help those less fortunate than you. o If you take that action then you will be charitable.  Duty o Choose between freedom or moral character  Categorical Imperative: a maxim that commands moral obligation independent of experience or consequences. It is derived from pure reason and always carries overriding value. o Don’t exploit people. Do not treat people as a mere means. Don’t kill people. o Command actions that are intrinsically good, not actions that are good as a means to something else  Categorical imperatives o Do X. o It is not optional o Act only on that maxim through which you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law. o If you can’t universalize something, it is probably not the right thing to do. o Vigilante – not okay for parents to kill the killer of their child; not okay for everyone to do that  Universal Law Test o Assume the maxim is universal o 1) Formulate your maxim o 2) Universalize (Assume that the maxim is universal) o 3) Conceive of a world ruled by maxim o 4) Can you rationally will it? o If the answer is yes to #4, then your action is moral o You can conceive of such a world but cannot rationalize it… o Perfect duties: ones that I always must do o Imperfect duties: ones that I may choose how and when to do  Logical Form o Applicable to all rational agents o A moral action is one that a rational person can consistently universalize as a moral law o What determines the moral value is whether it is logically consistent for the action to be practiced by all women and men o Telling the truth is the morally right thing to do = consistent with real world o Not telling the truth is the morally right thing to do = not consistent o The belief that you are different/unique is an irrational belief o Suicide is morally wrong = logically inconsistent  Breaking a promise o Is it okay for me to break a promise? o Realistically, I am not in any position to pay my friend back but I need their money. Why don’t I ask them to borrow money and promise to pay them back? o Maxim: When I need money, I will borrow it and promise to repay it even though I know that I cannot do so. o We cannot in fact will this, it will not past #3 because we cannot conceive of a world of breaking a promise  a promise would be meaningless  no value in promise and it disappears o Can you conceive of a world where promises don’t exist? Fails #3 o Therefore, you have a perfect duty to keep your promises; that’s why you keep them not because you hurt people, world collapse, etc.  Cannot have logical contradiction  Stealing o Maxim: When I need a printer, I will steal a printer if I come across one in an empty room. o Does not pass Kant’s test o Ther
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