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PP110 jan30.docx

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Wilfrid Laurier University
Hugh R Alcock

PP110 Jan.30/13 Assignment Assistance-  You can use the first person but do not use this “I think”  Your view on the philosopher+ discussing the writing NOT your views (discussing YOUR views in some parts), YOUR opinion on the AUTHORS VIEW  Avoid abbreviations “can’t” instead to cannot  Anything under 40 words use quotations (for quotes) also introduce quotations (you do not NEED quotes but they can be useful. There is also paraphrasing as well)  For longer quotations block quote (omitting quotation marks)  *Look at section 70-78 in Writing Philosophy “A Well Built Essay”  Aristotle- Virtue ethics in textbook  Look over your notes when reading the textbook to understand better Kant’s Deontological Ethics  Immanuel Kant (1724- 1804)- Lived during the enlightenment period and time of reason, there was a shift in worldviews into the notion of revolutionary events, lived in the era of realization that human beings are rational beings that have independence (democracy falters)  He wrote on many topics and was concerned with answering the problem with skepticism. How can we prove it and does it actually exist? Is what he wanted to answer. He wanted to show how the external world was possible and that we were not living in our heads  He wrote famous critiques such as practical reason (deals with the will, that we are rational)  Kant is renowned as one of the greatest philosophers in history. He was German, born in Konigsberg (now Kaliningrad, part of Russia). He made major contributions to most branches of philosophy. His main works on ethics are Groundwork to the Metaphysics of Morals (1785) and Critique of Practical Reason (1788). Kant’s Ideas Explained  A common sense way of evaluating someone’s actions (judging whether they are good or bad) is by considering their consequences.  Roughly, the idea is that if action X leads to a good result (however this might be measured), then X is good. If X leads to a bad result then it is bad. Such ethical thinking is called “consequentialist”.  What is justified?  Kant then REJECTS consequantalism. He holds that whether someone’s actions are good or bad is not measure by their consequences.  Instead Kant thinks that an action is good in so far as it is the act of a good will (intentions). In other words, ethical evaluations are measured by the goodness or badness of the person’s will rather than what any particular action leads to or results in.  The power to act, the free will that one has.  A good will embraces the power and can deal with the power in being free Step by Step Understanding of Kant One-  It is mainly agreed that most animals are not ethical; they do not deliberate or agonise over their actions in the way we humans do. And what distinguishes us from most animals is our power of reason. We are language users and rational agents.  Animals lack proper reasoning  The rational soul is what sets human beings apart from other species in our world.  Animals have complicated behaviour but are not governed by free will. They are almost programmed it seems.  Animals lack of rationality means that their actions are determined by their nature. Thus, we cannot blame a dog for attacking someone because we understand that it is only being a dog. (At best we can only hope to change its behaviour by training it ex- conditioning it). Crucially, this implies that animals lack freedom of will. They DO NOT choose their actions.  Essentially, Kant believes that it is our power of reason that gives us freedom. To be ethical, therefore, requires having the power to reason. This is a strong claim to make.  Reason has nothing to do with sensations within us. Reason is objective and how we feel about certain things.  Despite being rational we share with animals primitive or basic desires, concerning food, sex, and soon on. To the extent that our actions are driven by such sensual or biological desires we are NOT free. Freedom, one might say, is being able to act independently of such desires. And reason gives s the power to do so.  Kant’s reasoning can be summed up as follows: The freedom that rationality provides gives us responsibilities. To have responsibilities is to be ethical. As rational agents, therefore, it is our duty (deontos) to use our power of reason to be ethical.  But how can reason help us to be ethical? Two-  What is peculiar about reason is that it is independent of experience ex- our senses. We do not hold that “it is raining” and “it is not raining” (contradictory truths) cannot both be true at the same time by observations. This logical principle we know a priori ex- before or independent of experience  The power of reasoning allows us to break away from biological determinism , it is above that is seen as higher order thinking  Another example of a prior- Get two objects and another two objects= 4 objects, do the same for others. They are determined automatically by experience.  It is this feature of reason that is liberating- it does not depend on our biological functioning. Recall it is the fact that animals’ actions do depend on biology in this way that causes them to lack free will.  Can we change into un-rational beings and act like animals? Three-  What we need to guide our actions are maxims that are rationally transparent- just by thinking about them we see that they o
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