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Deontology Exam Note

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University of Waterloo
Brian Orend

Deontology:  Duty/obligation/responsibility  Different from virtue ethics  VE blended prudence with morality  Focuses on judging actions  VE focused on character  Binary ethics (light switch – permissible or not)  VE is scalar (looks at complexities of life)  Strongly committed to universality  VE isn’t  Kant  German “Enlightenment” thinker  Dualist  Through strength of will, we must bring our body in line with the commands of our mind (free rationality)  must be rational + autonomous o Being rational  using our reason to tell us how to achieve our goals and determine whether we can pursue them in a morally acceptable way o Being autonomous  ruled by our own selves (not God or nature)  deciding for yourself what rules are going to govern your life  you’re not a slave  you make the choices + goals  For an action to be orally permissible, it must be both: o Follow objective duty / law of Categorical Imperative o Motivated by proper subjective intention with respect to everyone’s autonomy  we solve moral dilemmas when we determine the correct duty + perform it with the right intention  Categorical Imperative  innate command of reason that we must always obey  don’t betray yourself  reinterpretation of the Golden Rule (do unto others as you would have them do unto you)  Rules of right conduct are universal  thus everyone would approve  2 tests for Categorical Imperative o The Universality Test  would anyone veto (reject) my action  if YES  impermissible  Rules must bind us equally o Humanity Test  will my action use anyone as a mere prop?  disregards their autonomy  people aren’t used as means  are ends-in-themselves  Reason = innate 
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