PHIL 1010 Lecture Notes - Lecture 3: Moral Agency, Seat Belt, Hypothetical Imperative

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10 Aug 2016
October 2nd, 2014
Philosophy Seminar:
Kant & Mill
Key Terms From Kant:
A priori knowledge ! you are born knowing without any kind of experience that you are a
self; what’s already in your head when you’re born
A posteriori knowledge ! things you learn after you’re born; knowledge acquired after birth
Categorical imperative ! there are things morally absolute; you may never lie, there will
never be a case where that is morally the right thing to do
Hypothetical imperative ! every act is possibly okay under the right circumstances; no right
and wrong… wouldn’t exist; I can steal food if I’m starving
Maxims ! think to yourself if it would be okay if you did an act without hurting other people, if
the answer is yes do it, if not don’t; always treat others as you would like to be treated
yourself; used to guide behaviour in a moral way ! how would I feel if everyone else did this
Government needs to operate on these principles to be a legitimate force*
Means to an end
o Instrumental value ! something you have or desire to have because you can
use it to get something else; valuable for what it can do for you ex: money
o Unethical; never okay to treat people as a ‘means to an end’
Ends in themselves
o Intrinsic value ! doing something for the thing itself, not for what it can get you
or do for you ex: being in a relationship because it makes you happy
o Ethical; how people should be treated
Law should be built on morality; natural law ! natural law exists people naturally know right
from wrong
You are your own moral agent you decide what’s right or wrong for yourself
Key Terms From Mill / Utilitarianism:
Bentham said that people are motivated to act in a way that increases pleasure and reduces
Right and wrong could be determined by the consequence of an act. If it promotes
happiness, it is good. If it promotes pain, it is bad
Any action is neither good nor bad in itself, but only in its consequence. This rejects the
popular belief of the time, that G-d decided what acts were wrong, and the moral act was the
one closest to the will of G-d. it is a secular view
Tyranny of the majority ! majority rules it’s tyranny because the minority is always ignored;
for the greater good to hear everyone’s voice, not just the majority
Social tyranny ! kind of tyranny that exists in peoples assumptions, stereotypes, and
discriminations; not governed by laws but it’s still there; just as damaging as unjust laws;
greater threat to an unjust society
Legitimate authority ! laws put in place protecting society from yourself; prevents people and
yourself from getting hurt; seat belt laws: if you get into a car crash without wearing a seat
belt then you could harm the people around you don’t drink and drive laws: if you drink and
drive you could crash into another car and harm the other people on the road
Descriptive claims !
Normative claims !
Charter of Rights and Freedoms:
Supreme Court ruled in favour of the woman being allowed to wear her vail in court to protect
herself and keep to her religious practices
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