Lecture 5: Consequential Ethics & Deontological Ethics: Consider these quotes: The remarkable thing is that we really love our neighbor as ourselves: we do unto others as we do unto ourselves. We hate others when we hate ourselves. We are tolerant toward others when we tolerate ourselves. We forgive others when we forgive ourselves. We are prone to sacrifice others when we are ready to sacrifice ourselves. ~ Eric Hoffer
Consider these quotes: We can discover this meaning in life in three different ways: (1) by doing a deed; (2) by experiencing a value; and (3) by suffering. ~ Victor Frankl. Consider these quotes: Never let your sense of morals get in the way of doing what's right. ~ Isaac Asimov. When morality comes up against profit, it is seldom that profit loses. ~ Shirley Chisholm Consider these quotes:
Actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness; wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness. By happiness is intended pleasure and the absence of pain. ~ John Stuart Mill Major Ideas: Virtue Ethics: An action is right iff it is what the virtuous agent would do. 1. An action is right iff it is what a virtuous agent would do in the circumstances; 1a. A virtuous agent is one who acts virtuously,
i.e., one who has & exercises the virtues. 2 A virtue is a character trait a human being needs to flourish or live well. What is essential is to note the conceptual link between virtue & flourishing (living well or eudaimonia). Major Ideas: Deontological Ethics: An action is right iff it is in accordance with a moral rule or principle. A moral rule is one that is(a) laid on us by God, (b) required by natural law, (c) laid on us by reason, (d) required by
rationality, (e) would command universal rational acceptance, or (f) would be the object of choice of all rational beings. What is essential is the link between right action, moral rule, & rationality. Major Ideas: Consequential Ethics: An action is right iff it promotes the best consequences. The best consequences are those in which happiness is maximized. What is essential to note is that it forges a link between consequences & happiness.
Major Ideas: Before we consider consequential and deontological ethics, lets explore some other basic terms that are important to know: Good ideas have good consequences, bad ideas have bad consequences. What is Pluralism? There are definite standards of right behavior but
that more than one right standard exists. - There are several right course of action. What is Relativism? The theory that there are no absolute standards and that all truth is relative to a person or culture. - No universal moral law or norm of goodness or rightness exists. - What seems right to a person or group is right; there is no higher court of appeal. A. Relativism assumes the following: 1. The context or situational setting in which any talk occurs influences its outcome or the conclusions that arise from it.
2. Relativism leads to the conclusion that the situational character of all conversations have no access to a standpoint from which we could reach conclusions about what is absolute or universally right or wrong, good or evil, just or unjust. Relativism assumes the following: 3. Moral relativism declares that assertions about the right and the good, as well as laws or principles that guide human moral behavior are contextually determined.
3a. Cultural Relativism: A form of pluralism, this theory holds that different standards of right and wrong arise in different cultures. Within a given culture there are distinct standards, but these standards may vary from culture to culture. - No culture is in a position to make ethical judgments about the behaviors of other cultures. - Ex. One culture may have a prohibition against slavery, whereas another culture does not. In this view, slavery is right for the one culture but wrong for the other. 3b. Individual Relativism:
A form of pluralism, individual relativism is the doctrine that states that what is right depends on the view of a specific individual. Ex. If a lady believes that extramarital affairs are morally permissible but her husband does not, then extramarital affairs are right for her, but wrong for him. In contrast, what is Absolutism? There are definite and universal standards of ethical behavior, that we can know what they are, & that all people have an obligation to act on them. a. Believed to be standards which are dictated or generated by human reason (Kantian ethics ).
b. These ethical standards are either religious in nature (e.g., special revelation; the Bible.). 3c. A Problem of Relativist Theories: A. They seem unable to account to how strongly people feel about certain immoral acts. Ex. If a Nazi soldier believes that torturing Jewish children is morally permissible, can we only say that such behavior is right for him but that it is not right for us? B. They are unable to offer a strong account for justice vs. injustice; good vs. evil, right. vs wrong; it is counter-intuitive.
3c. A Problem of Relativist Theories: C. Unlivable and inconsistent with reality. Disastrous Effects of Relativism According to John Piper (Christian Thought): Relativism commits treason against God; Relativism cultivates duplicity (dishonesty). Relativism conceals doctrinal defects.
Relativism cloaks greed with flattery. Relativism cloaks pride in the guise of humility. Relativism enslaves people. Relativism leads to a brutal totalitarianism. Relativism silences personal identity. Relativism poisons personal character. Lets now turn to consequential ethics: Consequential Ethics: We choose the actions that bring about the best outcomes. There are many kinds of consequential forms of ethics. Lets consider the following: - Egoism: we should always act to maximize our
own individual interests. A. Consequential Ethics: We choose the actions that bring about the best outcomes: - Egoism: we should always act to maximize our own individual interests. - Utilitarianism: we should act to maximize the happiness of all affected by the action. A closer look at Utilitarianism: This theory that holds that an act is
right or wrong according to the utility or value of its consequences. An act that produces more good than harm has greater value than act that produces more harm than good. A closer look at Utilitarianism: Utilitarianism believe in the value of ethical laws in helping people determine which action will
probably bring about the greatest good for the greatest number of people. While they are not against laws or values (antinomians), they are not absolutists either. Every act is judged by its results, not by it intrinsic and universal value. A closer look at Utilitarianism:
In order to do determine the best consequence, some argue that you must add up the happiness in one person and then multiply the total happiness in the total number of people and subtract the total pain. If the result is positive then the action is good. If the result is negative then the action is bad. A closer look at Utilitarianism:
Uses of Utilitarian Ethics in terms of Pleasure vs. Pain (Peter Singer): 1. When we testify the safety of a new shampoo, we drip the shampoo in concentrated form into the eye of rabbits, causing them terrible pain. But does shampoo leaving your hair lustrous and manageable, sufficient to justify the infliction of so much suffering? A closer look at Utilitarianism: 2. The taste of a char-grilled steak, juicy and tender, is a genuine source of pleasure. But can this gourmet pleasure (which is not essential to sustain our lives), and in fact may shorten our lives by contributing to LDL levels, justify the
infliction of suffering on cattle that are raised on crowded feedlots, and then herded into slaughter houses? A closer look at Utilitarianism: 3. It must be delightful to live in an elegant home, richly equipped with a Jacuzzi and sauna in addition to having a master bedroom suite with an entire wall-covered entertainment system. But is it really right to spend that much on luxuries that add only a small increase to our pleasure when the same resources could be used to care for impoverished children living in hunger? For example, $21.00 US dollars can feed over 150 elementary students in Ghana for two weeks (rice mixed with yams). A closer look at Utilitarianism:
4. I purchase another expensive GQ suit to add to my already stuffed closet-for it will bring me pleasure. But is that small increment of pleasure even remotely comparable to the pleasure and relief of suffering that would result if I took that same money and purchased clothes to orphan children or a threadbare family? A closer look at Utilitarianism:
5. A tummy tuck will certainly improve sagging appearances and make some of us feel better. But the cost of a tummy tuck can be used to drill a water well and provide clean and pure water to an entire village in most third world countries. A closer look at Utilitarianism: 6. Utilitarian Ethics and Public Policy: If we are trying to decide whether a new football stadium with luxury boxes for the very rich is a better investment than decent inner-city schools and health care for the poor, is utilitarian calculations a better guide for making such decisions than deontological ethics?
Problems with Utilitarianism: 1. The end does not justify the means. An act is not automatically good simply because it has a good goal. The road to destruction is paved with good intentions (Prov. 14:12). Ex. President Nixons goal of national security was noble, but the criminal activity of Watergate was not justified. Problems with Utilitarianism: 2.
Utilitarian acts have no intrinsic value. Ex. The attempt to save a life is not an intrinsically valuable act. No benevolence, no sacrifice, no love has any value unless it happens to have good results. Ex. If forced to choose to save either a medical doctor or a poor child from a destructive house fire, one is obligated to save the medical doctor. Problems with Utilitarianism: 3. People are subject to the greater good of statistics: Ex. If forced to choose to save either a medical
doctor or a poor child from a destructive house fire, one is obligated to save the medical doctor because we know he is able to help people; we dont know the future of the child. Problems with Utilitarianism: 4. The need for an absolute standard: Relative norms do no stand alone. They must be relative to something which is not relative. So, unless there is a standard, how can they know what is the greater good.
Problems with Utilitarianism: 5. The end is an ambiguous term: If the utilitarian contends that ethics should be based on what will bring the best results in the long run, how long is long? A few years? a life-time? Eternity? Anything beyond the immediate present is outside of the human range. Problems with Utilitarianism: 6. Ambiguous as well in determining
whether the end means for the greatest number or for all individuals. Could good could be achieved or the most people if basic rights were denied to some people? Is this intuitively right? Problems with Utilitarianism: Pleasure vs. Pain: Pain and Pleasure are not exact opposites. Is this true?
How do you measure pain and pleasure? Can pain be beneficial over and against pleasure? Conclusion to Consequentialism: Consequentialists believe that consequences are the only things that matter: A. We do not necessarily know the outcome. B. The consequences of our own action
may be unpredictable. Conclusion to Consequentialism: C. he consequences of other peoples actions which impact on our actions may also be unpredictable. D. We do not know what the consequences will be of our action in the long term. E. We cant necessarily control the consequences. Concluding thought to Consequentialism: Dostoyeskys Challenge to Utilitarian Ethicists: Tell me honestly, I challenge you-answer me: imagine that you are charged with building the edifice of human destiny, the ultimate aim
of which is to bring people happiness, to give them peace and contentment at last, but that in order to achieve this it is essential and unavoidable to torture just one speck of creation, thatlittle child beating her chest with her little fists, and imagine that this edifice has to be erected on her unexpiated [suffering for having done nothing wrong] tears. Would you agree to be the architect under those conditions? Tell me honestly! ~ The Karamazov Brothers, trans. Ignat Avsey (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994). Lets now explore Deontological Ethics: Deontological Ethics
We should choose actions based on their inherent, intrinsic worth; evangelical approaches to ethics are deontological because it presupposes Scripture as revelation. Deontological comes from the Greek word deon, meaning that which is binding, in particular a binding duty. So, you are bound to your duty. Deontological Framework: An action is right if and only if (iff) it is in accordance with a moral rule or principle. This is a purely formal specification, forging a link
between the concepts of right and action and moral rule, and gives one no guidance until one knows what a moral rule is. Deontological Framework: Therefore, the links between right action, moral rule, and rationality based upon moral rule + given by God or required by natural or laid on us by reason or required by rationality or would command universal rational acceptance or would by the object of choice of all rational beingare all essential aspects to any deontological
framework. Deontological Framework: So, the next thing the theory needs is a premise about that: A moral rule is one that would have been historically: A. Theistic: 1. Given to us by God; 2. Is required by Natural Law (theistic connection);
B. Secular (though can still be connected to God): 1. 2. 3. 4. Is laid on us by reason. Is required by rationality; Would command universal acceptance; Would be the object of choice of all rational beings. Deontological Ethics It holds that acts are right or wrong in and of
themselves because of the kinds of acts they are and not simply because of their ends or consequences. - The ends do not justify the means. - A good end or purpose does not justify a bad actions. - You are duty-bound; binding is not dependent on consequences, no matter if it is painful or pleasurable. Deontological Ethics For example: 1. You are duty-bound to keep your promise to be faithful to your spouse, even if a more attractive person comes along. 2. You are duty-bound to always telling the truth, even
if it cost you a job. Duty is not based on what is pleasant or beneficial, but rather upon the obligation itself. Deontological Ethics For example, a deontologist might argue that a promise ought to be kept simply because it is right to keep a promise, regardless whether the doing so will have good or bad consequences. In contrast, a utilitarian will argue that we should keep our promises only when keeping them results in better consequences than the alternatives. Overview of Ethical Systems: Immanuel Kant (1724-1804): . To act morally you must be motivated exclusively
by rational commitment to the universal moral law or the categorical Imperative: Act in conformity with that maxim, and that maxim only, that you can will at the same time be a universal law. Right actions flow out of right principles Do the act that is motivated by the sincere belief that what you are doing is the right thing not merely for you, but for anybody seeking to act
properly in any situation. To act morally requires the rational power to recognize absolute moral laws that transcend our natural world.
To act morally requires the power of the will to rise above all natural feelings and inclinations. This raises us above our natural world.
Second form of categorical imperative: Act in such a way that you always treat humans not merely as a means to an end but also as an end. Basic Terms to Know: 1.
Deontological Ethics: "rule or duty-based morality; ...emphasizes right action over good consequences 2. a priori: "not in any way derived from experience or dependent upon it"; concepts derived a priori are universal rules that determine, in advance, the conditions for knowledge in a particular domain 3. maxim: rule of conduct; 4.
Hypothetical imperative: an action that is good only as a means to something else; 5. Categorical imperative: an action that is good in itself and conforms to reason; categorical imperatives act as universal rules governing a situation regardless of circumstance Summary: Thus, Kantian ethics states an action is right iff it is in accord with the Categorical Imperative (the
supreme principle of morality). Right actions flow from right principles. From using our capacity to reason Kant believes the Categorical Imperative can be formulated in at least three ways; they are all equivalent with the first formulation being the basis. Though they bring out various aspects of the moral law, they cannot tell us more than what the first formula does. Categorical Imperative:
The CI does not depend on a logically prior condition though it assumes the predisposition that one wishes to be rational and will follow what rationally determined duty dictates (in contrast to hypothetical imperatives which means that the consequent depends upon the antecedent: If p, then q). Thus, morality is a function of human reason. Human reason is governed by Logic. Q.E.D., to be irrational is to be inhuman. To be sure, there are perfect and imperfect duties. Actions are characterized as perfect because they follow directly from an application of the universalization of the Categorical Imperative in contrast to imperfect duties that follow from CI only after considering other factors (e.g., seeking our own happiness). An imperfect duty is just as strong in its action guiding force as a perfect duty. Thus, their point of origin highlights their differences.
Three Formulations of the Categorical Imperative: First formulation: Act in conformity with the maxim and the maxim only, that you can will at the same time a universal law. This means that what I consider doing, it must be something that I can will or accept that all do (universal); it is replacing individual preferences with purely universal terms. Second formulation: Act in such a way that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or in that of another, always an end and
never as a means only. In essence, every person has intrinsic value and that humanity is a limit or constraint on our action. Third formulation: Therefore, every rational being must act as if he were through his maxim always a legislating member in the universal kingdom of ends. In other words, we have to will what is consistent with the operations of the kingdom as a whole. In sum, all people should consider themselves as both members and heads Major Points to Consider: 1. What gives an act moral worth is our motives because we
cant necessarily control the consequences of our act or/and things do not always turn out as we want. He calls this motive the good will. Therefore, we are responsible for our motives to do good or bad, and thus it is for this that we are held morally accountable. 2. What is the right motive is acting out of a will to do the right thing; only an act motivated by this concern for the moral law is right. Consider the following Shopkeeper illustration: Major Points to Consider: 3.
Kants Shopkeeper illustration: A shopkeeper charges her customers a fair price and charges the same to all. But what is the shopkeepers motive? A. If the shopkeepers motive for charging a fair price is that it serves her own best interest, then this motive is not praiseworthy. B. If the shopkeepers motive for charging a fair price is because she is sympathetic toward her customers, then this motive is still not praiseworthy. C. If the shopkeepers motive is to do the right thing because it is the right thing, then her motive is indeed praiseworthy. Only doing that which is morally right is praiseworthy. We do not always know when our acts are motivated by self-interest, inclination or pure respect for morality. Also, we often act from mixed motives. However, we are certain that the motive is pure when we do what is right regardless how we feel or/and the consequences.
Major Points to Consider: 4. In order for our action to have moral worth we must not only act out of a right motivation but we must also do what is right. Right Motive Right Act The motive and the act must be morally right! We must not only act of duty (have the right motive) but also according to duty or as duty requires (do what is right). 5. How we are to know what the right thing to do is to test our motives and actions against the categorical imperative. If our
motive and acts meets the criteria of the categorical imperative we are obligated to do it. CATEGORICAL IMPERATIVE: Right Motive Oughts that tell us what we ought to do no matter what, under all conditions, and are universally binding (categorical imperative). 1st form of Categorical Imperative: Act only on that maxim which can will as a
universal law. Right Act This means that what I consider doing, it must be something that I can will or accept that all do (universal). According the first formula: According to the first formula: the agent must be willing to eliminate all individual reference from the maxim of her action. The most significant exclusion from the maxim is oneself. Therefore, in order to
pass the test of the categorical imperative in the first formulation, one must be prepared to go on willing even if it contains no reference to oneself. 6. Thus, whatever I consider doing, it must be something that I can will or accept all do. A law by its very nature has a degree of universality. Act only on that maxim which you can will as a universal law. Maxim: is a description of the action that I will put to the test.
7. How do I know what I can and cannot will as a universal practice? As a rational being I can only will what is non-contradictory 8. First Two Forms of the Categorical Imperative: 1st form of Categorical Imperative: 2nd form of Categorical Imperative: Act only on that maxim which can will as a universal law.
Always treat humanity, whether in your own person or that of another, never simply as a means but always at the same time as an end. This means that what I consider doing, it must be something that I can will or accept that all do (universal); it is replacing individual preferences with purely universal terms.
This means that every person has intrinsic value & that humanity is a limit or constraint on our action. 1 Categorical Imperative: st 1st Categorical Imperative is a decision procedure for moral reasoning. 4 Steps: 1. Formulate a maxim that enshrines your reasoning for acting as you propose.
2. Recast maxim as universal law of nature governing all rational agents-all people will act upon. 3. Consider whether your maxim is even conceivable in a world governed by this law of nature. 4. Ask whether you would or could rationally will to act on this maxim in such a world. 9. Second Form of the Categorical Imperatives: Explains how we ought to treat ourselves. Treat ourselves & other as ends rather than merely as means. The moral conclusions
should be the same whether we use the 1st or 2nd form of the categorical imperative. 2nd Categorical Imperative: Always treat humanity, whether in your own person or that of another, never simply as a means but always at the same time as an end. This means that every person has intrinsic value & that
humanity is a limit or constraint in our action. 10. Third Formulation of the Categorical Imperative: Hypothetical Kingdom of Ends All maxims as proceeding from our own lawmaking ought to harmonize with a possible kingdom of ends as a kingdom of nature." Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals, 4:436/104.
Key Points: 1. Think of ourselves as members of a society of beings whose permissible ends are to be respected. 2. Test our maxims by asking, whether, supposing the maxims were natural laws, there would be a society of that kind. In other words, we are obligated to act only by maxims which would harmonize a possible kingdom of ends. 3. We have a perfect duty not to act by maxims that create incoherent or impossible states of natural affairs when we attempt to universalize them; We have an imperfect duty not to act by maxims that promote unstable or greatly undesirable states of affairs.
Kant seems to assume that those who apply the categorical imperative to their maxims will come out with answers that agree when the maxims tested are alike. J.B. Schneewind, Autonomy, Obligation, & Virtue, pg. 338. Third Categorical Imperative introduces a social dimension to Kantian Morality The formulation of the CI states that we must act in accordance with the maxims of a member giving universal laws for a merely possible kingdom of ends (4:439). It combines the others in that (i) it requires that we conform our actions to the maxims of a legislator of laws (ii) that this lawgiver lays down universal laws, binding all rational wills including our own, and (iii) that those laws are of a merely possible kingdom each of whose members equally possesses this status as legislator of universal laws, and hence
must be treated always as an end in itself. The intuitive idea behind this formulation is that our fundamental moral obligation is to act only on principles which could earn acceptance by a community of fully rational agents each of whom have an equal share in legislating these principles for their community. Summary of first three categorical imperatives: The Categorical Imperative requires that I act only on maxims that I can will as universal law. The categorical imperative is supposed to give us a
test for maxims. Maxim is the is subjective principle of an action. The principle of an action is that prescription from which the action follows. If the maxim meets the test, the action that follows from it has moral worth; if the maxim does not meet it, the action does not have moral worth. 1 Categorical Imperative:
st 1st Categorical Imperative requires willingness to continue to the subscription to the maxim of an action even if all individual or singular reference is excluded from it. Eliminating individual or singular reference requires eliminating reference to me. In other words, think of replacing individual references with purely universal terms. 1st Categorical Imperative:
Act in such a way that you always treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, never simply as a means, but always at the same time as an end. Rather than thinking that humanity is the goal or proper end of our action, he presupposes that humanity is a limit or constraint on our action. This kind of constraint can be seen mostly clearly by tracing the connection with the first formula, the Formula of Universal Law. Remember, the agent must be willing to eliminate all individual reference from the maxim of her action. The most significant exclusion here is that of herself. Therefore, be prepared go on willing the maxim even if it contains no reference to herself. The constraint that the second formula imposes is that the maxim of an action must be such that any other free and rational person can adopt it. Treating humanity as an end in itself is, for Kant, respecting our capacity for free and rational choice; in his term, it is respecting our autonomy. I am constrained, according to this first formula, by the consideration that is wrong, other things being equal, to impede the agency of others. To treat another human being as merely a means is to ignore the other as a center of agency. The clearest cases here are those of coercion and deception. For example: If I take the hand of one of my students in my class and with it I strike the neighbouring
students face, I have bypassed the first students agency. I have treated her merely as a means, as though she were merely an organic hitting implement. The same is true when I deceive somebody, because if I conceal the nature of the situation, I impede her ability to make a free and rational choice for that situation. 1st Categorical Imperative: The constraint that the second formula imposes is that the maxim of an action must be such that any other free and rational person can adopt it. Treating humanity as an end in itself is, for Kant, respecting our capacity for free and rational choice; in his term, it is respecting our autonomy. I am constrained, according to this first formula, by the consideration that is wrong, other things being equal, to impede the agency of others. To treat another human being as merely a means is to ignore the other as a center of agency. The clearest cases here are those of coercion and deception.
For example: If I take the hand of one of my students in my class and with it I strike the neighbouring students face, I have bypassed the first students agency. I have treated her merely as a means, as though she were merely an organic hitting implement. The same is true when I deceive somebody, because if I conceal the nature of the situation, I impede her ability to make a free and rational choice for that situation. What is the connection between the categorical imperative is the following: If I cannot will maxim X as universal law, then I am acting for reasons that it is not possible for everyone to share. But to act toward people on the basis of reasons
they cannot possibly share is to use them, to treat them as a mere means to my goals. In fact, all people should consider themselves both members and heads because we have a perfect duty not to act in maxims that create incoherent or impossible states of natural affairs for it will lead to unstable or greatly undesirable states of affairs. See, the truly autonomous will is not subject to any particular interest. Kants idea here is that one should not treat others in ways they couldnt rationally assent to. 10. Perfect and Imperfect Duties: Perfect Duties: Perfect duties are absolutes & necessary; they
conform to the categorical imperative. eg., We can and should absolutely refrain from making false or lying promises. Imperfect Duties: Are those duties that dont whole heartily conform to the categorical imperative. e.g., If I were an egoist and concerned only about myself, no one could accuse me of using other people; I would simply leave them alone. But this
attitude & practice is inconsistent with the duty to treat others as persons. As persons, they also have interests and plans, and to recognize this I must at least sometimes and in some ways seek to promote their ends and goals. The following are 4 examples famously used by Kant. 1st example: Suicide Whenever continuing to live will bring more pain than pleasure, I shall commit suicide out of self-love. 1. Suicide cant be a universal law for one cant will that
would be universal will. 2. Remember, suicide would be morally right if and only if the person who is thinking about suicide can consistently will that suicide be a universal law. 1 Example: Suicide: st A man reduced to despair by a series of misfortunes feels wearied of life, but is still so far in possession of his reason that he can ask himself whether it would not be contrary to his duty to himself to take his own life. Now he inquires whether the maxim of his action could become a universal law of nature. His maxim is: 'From self-love I
adopt it as a principle to shorten my life when its longer duration is likely to bring more evil than satisfaction.' It is asked then simply whether this principle founded on self-love can become a universal law of nature. Now we see at once that a system of nature of which it should be a law to destroy life by means of the very feeling whose special nature it is to impel to the improvement of life would contradict itself and, therefore, could not exist as a system of nature; hence that maxim cannot possibly exist as a universal law of nature and, consequently, would be wholly inconsistent with the supreme principle of all duty." (Quoted from the Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysic of Morals, as translated by T.K. Abbott) 2nd example: Lying & Not Keeping Promise: Whenever I need money, then I shall borrow
the money and promise to repay, even though I know I will not repay. 1. Lying and not keeping promise cant be a universal law for one cant will that would be universal will. 2. Remember, lying and not repaying would be morally right if and only if the person who is thinking about lying and not keeping promise can consistently will that lying and not keeping promise be a universal law. 3rd Example: Developing Ones Habits
"A third finds in himself a talent which with the help of some culture might make him a useful man in many respects. But he finds himself in comfortable circumstances and prefers to indulge in pleasure rather than to take pains in enlarging and improving his happy natural capacities. He asks, however, whether his maxim of neglect of his natural gifts, besides agreeing with his inclination to indulgence, agrees also with what is called duty. He sees then that a system of nature could indeed subsist with such a universal law although men (like the South Sea islanders) should let their talents rest and resolve to devote their lives merely to idleness, amusement, and propagation of their species- in a word, to enjoyment; but he cannot possibly will that this should be a universal law of nature, or be implanted in us as such by a natural instinct. For, as a rational being, he necessarily wills that
his faculties be developed, since they serve him and have been given him, for all sorts of possible purposes." (Quoted from the Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysic of Morals, as translated by T.K. Abbott) 3rd example: Developing Ones Habits When Im comfortable as I am, I shall let all my talents rust. 1. Everyone necessarily wills that some of his or her talents be developed. 2.
If everyone necessarily wills that some of his or her talents be developed, then no one can consistently will that his non-use of talents to be a universal law. 3. Non-use of talents is morally right if and only if the agent thinking about non-use of talents can consistently will that non-use of talents be a universal law. (The Categorical Imperative) 4. Therefore, allowing ones talents to rust is morally wrong. 4 Example: Helping Others.
th A fourth, who is in prosperity, while he sees that others have to contend with great wretchedness and that he could help them, thinks: 'What concern is it of mine? Let everyone be as happy as Heaven pleases, or as be can make himself; I will take nothing from him nor even envy him, only I do not wish to contribute anything to his welfare or to his assistance in distress!' Now no doubt if such a mode of thinking were a universal law, the human race might very well subsist and doubtless even better than in a state in which everyone talks of sympathy and good-will, or even takes care occasionally to put it into practice, but, on the other side, also cheats when he can, betrays the rights of men, or otherwise violates them. But although it is possible that a universal law of nature might exist in
accordance with that maxim, it is impossible to will that such a principle should have the universal validity of a law of nature. For a will which resolved this would contradict itself, inasmuch as many cases might occur in which one would have need of the love and sympathy of others, and in which, by such a law of nature, sprung from his own will, he would deprive himself of all hope of the aid he desires." (From the Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysic of Morals, as translated by T.K. Abbott) 4th example: Helping Others: When I am flourishing and others are in distress, I shall give nothing to charity. Everyone necessarily wills that he or she be helped in desperate circumstances.
2. If everyone necessarily wills this, then no one can consistently will that non-help be a universal law. 3. Not helping others is morally right if and only if the agent thinking about not helping others can consistently will that not helping others be a universal law. (The Categorical Imperative) 4. Therefore, not helping others is not morally right.
11. Advantages of Kants Moral Theory: Fairness, Consistency, and morally equal treatment of all people for they are intrinsically valuable. Emphasizes the Law of Non-contradiction; we would not will anything that is not rational. Emphasizes doing what is morally right (it is our duty). It is universally binding and Impartial-in order for an action to be morally permissible, we should be able to will it for all. 12. Criticisms against Deontological Ethics: Duty centered ethics stressing obedience to rules, as opposed to result-centered or utilitarian ethics.
1. No clear way to resolve moral duties when they come into conflict with each other. 2. Deontological ethics are consequential moral systems in disguise enshrined in customs and law have been known to give the best consequences. 3. Do not readily allow for gray areas because they are based on absolutes. 4. Which duties qualify given time or location: Are old duties still valid? 5. Human welfare and misery: Some principles may result in a clash with what is best for human welfare & prescribe actions which cause human misery. 6. Rule worship: The refusal to break a generously beneficial rule in those areas in which it is not most beneficial is rule worship. 7. Exclusive focus on rationality ignores our relations to & with other human beings. There is no clear way to deal with moral conflicts consider the following:
a. Killer comes to the door: If a killer comes to the door and ask for a friend of yours inside whom he intends to kill, you must tell the truth (illustration by Kant). But there is only one exceptionless rule in Kants philosophy and that is given in the categorical imperative: We are never permitted to do what we cannot will as a universal law or what violates the requirement to treat persons as persons. Kant may not give us adequate help in deciding what to do when moral conflicts are involved because in the above example, both to tell the truth and preserve life are moral obligations. Regarding Impartiality & Rationality: b.
Kants moral philosophy is its belief in impartiality; in order for an action to be rally permissible, we should be able to will it for all. However, persons do differ in significant ways (gender, race, age, and talents). In what way does morality require that everyone be treated equally and in what does it perhaps require that different person be treated differently (e.g., gender). c. Kants stress on rationality may be considered to be too maleoriented, too Westernized. It is subject to the continental critique of structure (Foucault). Kants View of Virtue/Vice
Kant defines virtue as the moral strength of a human being's will in fulfilling his duty (6:405) and vice as principled immorality. (6:390) This definition appears to put Kant's views on virtue at odds with classical views such as Aristotle's in several important respects. First, Kant's account of virtue presupposes an account of moral duty already in place. Thus, rather than treating admirable character traits as more basic than the notions of right and wrong conduct, Kant takes virtues to be explicable only in terms of a prior account of moral or dutiful behavior. He does not try to make out what shape a good character has and then draw conclusions about how we ought
to act on that basis. He sets out the principles of moral conduct based on his philosophical account of rational agency, and then on that basis defines virtue as the trait of acting according to these principles. Kants View of Virtue/Vice Second, virtue is for Kant a strength of will, and hence does not arise as the result of instilling a second nature by a process of habituating or training ourselves to act and feel in particular ways. It is indeed a disposition, but a disposition of one's will, not a disposition of emotions, feelings, desires or any other feature of human nature that might be amenable to habituation. Moreover, the
disposition is to overcome obstacles to moral behavior that Kant thought were ineradicable features of human nature. Thus, virtue appears to be much more like what Aristotle would have thought of as a lesser trait, viz., continence or self-control. Kants View of Virtue/Vice Third, in viewing virtue as a trait grounded in moral principles, and vice as principled transgression of moral law, Kant thought of himself as thoroughly rejecting what he took to be the Aristotelian view that virtue is a mean between two vices. The Aristotelian view, he claimed, assumes that virtue differs from vice only in terms of
degree rather than in terms of the different principles each involves. (6:404, 432) But prodigality and avarice, for instance, do not differ by being too loose or not loose enough with one's means. They differ in that the prodigal acts on the principle of acquiring means with the sole intention of enjoyment, while the avaricious act on the principle of acquiring means with the sole intention of possessing them. Kants View of Virtue/Vice Fourth, in classical views the distinction between moral and non-moral virtues is not particularly significant. A virtue is some sort of excellence of
the soul , but one finds classical theorists treating wit and friendliness along side courage and justice. Since Kant holds moral virtue to be a trait grounded in moral principle, the boundary between non-moral and moral virtues could not be more sharp. Even so, Kant shows a remarkable interest in non-moral virtues; indeed, much of Anthropology is given over to discussing the nature and sources of a variety of character traits, both moral and non-moral. Kants View of Virtue/Vice Fifth, virtue cannot be a trait of divine beings, if there are such, since
it is the power to overcome obstacles that would not be present in them. This is not to say that to be virtuous is to be the victor in a constant and permanent war with ineradicable evil impulses. Morality is duty for human beings because it is possible (and we recognize that it is possible) for our desires and interests to run counter to its demands. Should all of our desires and interests be trained ever so carefully to comport with what morality actually requires of us, this would not change in the least the fact that morality is still duty for us. For should this come to pass, it would not change the fact that each and every desire and interest could have run contrary to the moral law. And it is the fact that they can conflict with moral law, not the fact that they actually do conflict with it, that makes duty a constraint, and hence virtue essentially a trait concerned with constraint.
Kants View of Virtue/Vice Sixth, virtue, while important, does not hold pride of place in Kant's system in other respects. For instance, he holds that the lack of virtue is compatible with possessing a good will. (6: 408) That one acts from duty, even repeatedly and reliably can thus be quite compatible with an absence of the moral strength to overcome contrary interests and desires. Indeed, it may often be no challenge at all to do one's duty from duty alone. Someone with a good will, who is genuinely committed to duty for its own sake, might simply fail to encounter any significant temptation that would reveal the lack of strength to follow through with that commitment. That said, he also appeared to hold that if an act is to be of genuine moral worth, it must be motivated by the kind of purity of motivation achievable
only through a permanent, quasi-religious conversion or revolution in the orientation of the will of the sort described in Religion. Kants View of Virtue/Vice Kant here describes the natural human condition as one in which no decisive priority is given to the demands of morality over happiness. Until one achieves a permanent change in the will's orientation in this respect, a revolution in which moral righteousness is the nonnegotiable condition of any of one's pursuits, all of one's actions that are in accordance with duty are nevertheless morally worthless, no matter what else may be said of them. However, even this revolution in the will
must be followed up with a gradual, lifelong strengthening of one's will to put this revolution into practice. This suggests that Kant's considered view is that a good will is a will in which this revolution of priorities has been achieved, while a virtuous will is one with the strength to overcome obstacles to its manifestation in practice. Criticisms against Deontological Ethics: 1. How do decide between two principles? 2
What about moral conflict between two morally right principles. 3. From where or whom do we get our principles? Nature? God? 4. If we get our principles from God, who is he and why doesnt he make himself more obvious? Criticisms against Deontological Ethics:
5. If from nature, that assume what is in nature is good. 6. How do we define nature? 7. We should follow our conscience? However, different peoples conscience tell them to do different things. Ex. If the Bible condemns
divorce, why do people say God told him or her to divorce his or her spouse? Isnt this a conflict? Concluding Questions: Do you thinks ethics is a matter of natural processes, or is it transcendent (supernaturally revealed by God)? Are ethical principles made or discovered? Is ethics objective or non-objective? Are there actual objective facts in ethics, or is it all just a matter of opinion?
Concluding Questions: Can I be completely wrong about one of my ethical beliefs? Is ethics a matter or protecting the individual or enhancing the welfare of all? In other words, is ethics basically individualistic or in some way communitarian? If people from a different culture have different ethical rules or obligations from our own, must at least one set of rules be
wrong? Is this known more through reason or by experience of some sort? Even those who deny that objective ethical truths are split on this question?