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PP 110 - Kant deontology.docx

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Wilfrid Laurier University
Ashwani Peetush

Non-consequentialism Kant Deontology (concerns duty)  “Nothing in the world – indeed nothing even beyond the world – can possibly be conceived which could be called good without qualification except a good will.” o Kant – Foundation of the Metaphysics of Morals  Ex. Tuskegee: In US, scientists recruited 600 black men for an experiment (about 400 men had syphilis). They purposely did not treat them to see what would happen. These men did not know that they had such disease and were told that they would be given free health care. Later, they slowly became more ill and died. – scientists indeed gained a lot of knowledge o However, immoral – every human (in a civilized society) should have basic human rights  Draws us away from utilitarianism (an opposition)  Draws us away from consequentialism  How do you know what makes an action good or bad? o The standard for Kant is that it is done out of the Good Will, or with the proper motivation, or right intention  The standard of goodness is based on Good Will  Standard is based on reason  What Kant’s belief of right intention is different from our perception  Kant: right motive – done for the sake of duty o Note: the way in which he defines duty is what distinguishes him from others o Duty: not blind rule following  How do you figure what your duty is? Duty can be analyzed by reason alone.  Linked to rationality  Rationality: defining feature of humanity o The right intention is one that is done for the sake of duty  Kant: whenever you act, “I will do X in circumstances Y for the intention Z’  This rule picks out the “what when, why”  Ask yourself: “Can the rule by which I act be universalized?”  Formulation of Golden Rule: do unto others as you would want done unto you  Golden Rule: based upon reason o Grounded upon situation o Axioms: notions of quality, rationality, equality  (treated like cases alike) o Duty is inextricably linked to reason, or, the Categorical Imperative (CI) o The Categorical Imperative requires that the rule/maxim of any action be universalizable  First Formulation of CI (CI: attempts to articulate what is important about the Golden Rule)  “act only according to that maxim by which you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law”  Good actions must have good intentions, good intentions must be based on duty, duty must be based on rationality, rationality is based on the CI  Could everyone follow at all times  Example: Cheating  Cheating is wrong not because of its consequences (which may be good), but because it is not rational in 3 different ways o ***will everyone will your actions? No. It can’t be universalized a) Self-defeating: undermines the very conditions from which you wish to gain  The advantage that you seek to gain depends upon the very social conditions that others tell the truth  But you also think people should not tell the truth when it serves the purpose  The two are contradicting – the whole practice would be meaningless and no one would benefit  Why? Because if everyone did it, it would lead to negative consequences  HOWEVER, it is not the consequences of everyone lying that is problematic, BUT that the consequences would undermine and contradict what you are doing, that is problematic. Your willing defeats the whole point (between the 2 tensions). This is an irrational set of beliefs to hold (A and not A)  Irrational because it is self-defeating
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