PHLA11H3 Lecture Notes - Lecture 9: Egotism, Kantianism, Ocean Liner

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2 Feb 2016
PHLA11 – Lecture 9 – Continuation of Kantianism and Intro to Psychological
Continuation of Kantianism:
Example: Slavery
oBy definition, slavery does not respect the autonomy of the enslaved.
o“Slavery treats the oppressed without regard for their own goals and
hopes.” (p. 161)
oSo, slavery is intrinsically wrong, according to Kant.
Duties to Aid the Poor:
oRespecting people as rational, autonomous agents requires more than
just not doing certain things to them
oExample: Victims of famine
Cannot pursue their own projects and goals
Treating them as ends requires trying to make it possible for
them to live their lives on their own terms
Evaluating the Principle of Humanity:
oProblem 1: Indeterminacy
What exactly does it take to not treat people as ere means in
typical cases of using others as means?
What exactly does it take to treat people as ends in
oProblem 2: Infants, Non-Human Animals, and the Severely
Mentally Disabled
If it is our capacities for rational autonomous agency that make
us worthy of being treated as ends, what does this say about
beings that do not posses these capacities?
Psychological Egoism:
“The doctrine that the only thing anyone is capable of desiring or pursuing
ultimately (as an end in itself) is his own self-interest.” (Feinberg, p. 80)
Denies the possibility of altruistic actions (actions aimed at benefiting others,
for their own sake).
It does not deny that people sometimes desire things other than their own
But it says that people only desire such things as a means to their own
A descriptive theory about human psychology, not a normative theory
Psychological Egoism and Morality:
oA standard assumption: Ought implies Can
oIf that’s right, Psychological Egoism poses a challenged to morality: If
it is humanly impossible to do anything other than what you think is in
your won self-interest, then it cannot b that you ought to do anything
Arguments for Psychological Egoism:
oArgument #1:
Every action of mine is prompted by motives or desires or
impulses which are my motives and not somebody else’s.” So,
“I am always pursuing something for myself or seeking my own
satisfaction.” (p.81)
Critiques of Argument 1:
P1) All of my voluntary actions are prompted by my
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