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Kantianism (cont'd) and Virtue Ethics

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Sam Black

th September 24 , 2012 PHIL 1102 1 Quiz on Monday, review sheet and mock quiz next class, multiple choice, true and false, takes 10 minutes, general comprehension Kantianism  Wrong if behaviour can’t be universalized and if you treat someone as a means to an end  Feelings don’t play a role, always wrong to lie and steal Advantages Core stability – absolute (i.e., the 10 commandments; eternal) – a lie is always wrong no matter when it is told, lying always violates categorical imperative, impossible to tell a lie without treating someone as a means  What violates the categorical imperative is always wrong  i.e., slavery is always wrong  General morals and rules that hold true all the time Intentions do matter – even if someone is acting from the best will but make a mistake, it is still good because they meant good.  i.e., A surgeon made a mistake. They are still moral because his intention was to help the person. Takes peoples’ “rights” into account – if someone’s rights were violated, the action was wrong. Treat them as an end, not a means.  i.e., officer distributed photo evidence of a naked woman after being attacked = WRONG!!  Torturing someone for info that would save thousands from a bomb = coercing the person, treating him as a means to an end (using man to get the info about the bomb to save people)  The person has to give permission (i.e., they permit you to torture them for info about bomb)  Human beings have infinite worth no matter what. Disadvantages Inflexible – to say something is always wrong is unfair  i.e., lying to save your friend from a murderer chasing after him = apparently wrong o Hypothetically, if you lied and told the murderer that she left and then she escaped on the fire escape, they met up around the corner, he killed her.  Responsible for having right intention, the consequences are out of your control  Act pure-hearted, whatever happens after is out of your control  As long as you tell the truth, you cannot be blamed for the consequences. Conflict of duties – theory doesn’t tell us which duty to fulfill if they are conflicting  “I have to keep a secret but I can’t lie” Difficult to determine when someone is being used as a means – refer to second categorical imperative: cannot use someone only as a means  i.e., prostitution No concern for animals and nature – humans are special in themselves  We are not hardwired in what we do o Animals/plants are “programmed” to grow, procreate, but nothing much else  Humans are able to reason, we are autonomous/free, animals and nature are not. th September 24 , 2012 PHIL 1102 2  In principle, we can treat animals/nature as means to our own ends, according to Kant.  But they DO matter intrinsically.  It’s wrong to kick dogs because it is a gateway to kicking humans. o Not because they matter, because we matter. Inclination/feelings – our inclinations/desires/feelings ought to play a role in our moral theory but Kant considers them unimportant  You can want to do the right thing, but if you don’t do it from a sense of duty, then the action is morally worthless.  Example: There are two women. Women #1 feels strongly against killing people but doesn’t use her duty to prevent it. Women #2 has strong desires to kill people but she feels it is her duty to not kill anyone. According to Kant, Women #2 is morally superior. o Doesn’t feel right…  Example: You have been really sick in the hospital for 2 months. A friend comes to visit. You say “Oh wow, thanks for vi
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