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PHL lecture, feb. 16.doc

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Peter King

Kant: Hard Questions • Sometimes called a deontologist o He prescribes moral rules in terms of what is right or obligatory rather than in terms of happiness  Thinks that happiness has a complex relation to moral rules: we are each bound to want to be happy, but obliged to put our happiness aside when we consider our duty • Does not mean that Kant subscribed to ‘absolute’ rules of conduct o Thought that moral action had to be properly impartial  Maxims have to be universalizable o But doesn’t mean that what should be done has to be exactly the same  Maxim: always act to bring about the most happiness for others • Seems universalizable • Gives determinate content to what should be done in a specific situation • But it does not prescribe the same actions all the time, since what makes for the greatest happiness at one time may not at another • Morality is ‘absolute’ in the sense that it is unconditionally binding o There are not personal exemptions or loopholes o Also ‘absolute’ in that it can demand anything of you  There are no limits in principle to the demands of morality • Hard views
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