2A Concise Historical Overview Socrates says... click on any philosopher for more informationPlato( BCE)Isaac Newton( CE)Martin Luther( CE)David Hume( CE)Rousseau’sSocial Contract(1772 CE)Kant’sEnlightenmentRationalismversusEmpiricismW.D. Ross( CE)
3Two things fill the mind with wonder and awe: the starry heavens above and the moral law within.
4Kant’s view of Human Nature Kant’s understanding of human nature is best appreciatedwithin the context of:Animals Human Beings God / AngelsDesiresInclinationsDesires & ReasonReasonAnimals follow their desiresand inclinations only. Theyhave no reason, so behave inaccordance to the empiricalrealm of cause and effect,led by their appetiteand instincts.God and angels are perfectly rational beings,without appetites and desires to lead them astray fromfollowing reason andobjective moral laws.Human nature experiencesthe tension of desires and inclinations (their animal self) versus the voice of reason (their God-like self)Phenomenal and Noumenal RealmPhenomenal RealmNoumenal Realm
5Noumenal Realm Phenomenal Realm Intelligible worldInaccessible world of things in themselvesConstant and unchangingKant’s viewof humannature(sharing the`animal self’of desires /appetites andan `angelicself’ ofreason)means thathumans haveaccess to boththe noumenalandphenomenalrealm.Noumenal RealmReasonIntellectKant worked within a Platonic tradition, and, like Plato,believed in two Realms ofhuman existence: theintelligible World, theNoumena; and the sensibleReal, the phenomena.SensesInclinationsPhenomenal RealmSensible worldThe world as it appears to usChanging and transientPhenomenal Realm
6Autonomy (Self deciding) Versus Heteronomy (Different laws imposed upon you) Kant believed that morally human beings are autonomousAutonomyHeteronomyThe individual decidestheir own moral lawsPeople have lawsimposed upon them by otherse.g. the church, the state, one’s familyA priori (before experience)A posteriori (after experience)ReasonDesires / InclinationsFreedom of the willNoumenal realmGoverned by laws of naturePhenomenal realmCategorical ImperativeHypothetical Imperative
7Newton’s laws of nature Kant’s Moral Law Nature MoralityUniversal LawsNewton’s laws of natureExplains the sensible realm(Realm of the phenomena)Dependent on scientificobservation / empiricismA posteriori – dependent onsense experienceKant’s Moral LawLocated in the intelligiblerealm (the noumena)Accessible by reason, which isinnate, within human beingsA priori – not dependent onsense experienceJust as Newton asserted universal laws of nature, soKant asserted universal laws of morality.The difference being that laws of nature are a posteriori, whilst laws of morality are a priori.
8“The GOOD WILL shines forth like a precious jewel” Sole intrinsic good (Kant)Sole intrinsic goodNo need of qualificationAutonomyFreedom of willBased on Reason(not empiricism)Motive of duty“Duty for duty’s sake”The Good Will chooses tofollow the moral law BECAUSE ITIS THE MORAL LAW.
9The Categorical Imperative Versus The Hypothetical Imperative Kant believed that the Good Will follows the Categorical ImperativeCategorical ImperativeHypothetical ImperativeAn unconditional commandA conditional commandWilled as an end in itself“Do `x’ for the sake of `x’”Intrinsic goodsWilled as a means to an end“Do `x’ if you wish to achieve `y’”Instrumental goodsA priori, through reasonA posteriori, desires / inclinationsUniversalAbsoluteRelativeDependent / ContingentDeontological‘Duty for duty’s sake’Consequential‘The end justifies the means’
10Categorical or Hypothetical Imperative? Be nice to your granny so she will leave you money in her will.Use artificial contraception to avoid unwanted pregnancies.Tell the truth so people will trust you.How might you turn the first part of these hypothetical imperatives into categorical imperatives?
11Kant’s Categorical Imperatives Act only on that maxim through whichyou can at the same time will that itshould become a universal law.(2) Treat other human beings as an end intheir own right, never as a means to anend.(3) Act as though you are a member of alaw making kingdom of ends.
12Kant’s Moral Problem Universe Virtuous people Some virtuous are happy people sufferVirtuous peopleare happySome wickedpeople prosperWicked peoplesufferBut in the world
13The Moral Law may be understood a priori by reason, and requires us to achieve the highest good(SummumBonum)But in the phenomenal world, of morally freehuman beings, desires and inclinations temptpeople away from acting rationallyConsequentlysomewickedpeopleprosperConsequentlysomevirtuouspeoplesufferTherefore to maintain a beliefin a rational universe wherethe highest good is achievedKantpostulatesMachiavelliDietriech BonhoefferThe Existence of GodThe immortality of the soulHuman beings have free willare postulates of pure practical reason
15Human beings are morally autonomous, authors of their own morality In the noumenal realm Kantasserted humanity’s freedom to decidefor themselves the Good will, a priori,through the use of reasonAccording to Kant’s view of human nature (rational and empirical selves) it is up to the individual whether to assert their freedom by acting rationally, or let themselves be governed by empirical desires and inclinations.In the realm of the phenomenaKant respected the determineduniversal laws of nature,as outlined by Isaac Newton
16to the categorical imperative to legislate morality according UMEAto the categorical imperativeto legislate morality accordingoffers the individual autonomythrough reason - a prioriFreedom of the good willPHENOMADetermined laws of naturethrough the senses, a posterioriimpose laws on people to followtheir desires and inclinationsaccording to the hypothetical imperative
17The categorical imperative promotes equality and is impartial Kant was radical in challenging the accepted social conventionof the nineteenth century which practised social discrimination.Morality, grounded in reason, is impartial and egalitarianq Act only on that maximthrough which you can atthe same time willthat it should becomea universal law.Treat other humanbeings as an end intheir own right, neveras a means to an end.As all humansare rationalDeontologicalapproach
18The categorical imperative provides a deontological structure which enables the individual to decide for themselves the specific moral contentSpecific Moral Maxims decidedby the individual using the C.I. structureMAGISTERUDIVNECOMABILEe.g. 10 Commandments(Decalogue)REJECTION OFHETERONOMY (other laws)IndividualAutonomyCategoricalImperative (C.I)StructureDutyReasonUniversalPeople: end not meansGood Will - UnconditionalOfficialChurch teaching
19If God is dead everything is permitted In an increasingly secular age Kant’s emphasis on duty plays a significant counter-cultural role in an individualistic, egotistical societyTo act as an antidote to an egotistical society theidea of duty encourages people to think again abouttheir obligations to others. Duty tries to correct afragmented society where individuals think only ofthemselves, by placing reason above desires and inclinations.The achievement of his own happiness is man’s highest moral purposeWhat is strong wins. That is the universal law.If God is dead everything is permittedNietzscheAyn RandDostoyevsky
20Kant Values Intrinsic Human Goods e.g. Freedom and Dignity Kant was deeply influenced by Rousseau’s philosophywhich emphasised the inherent dignityand freedom of humanity.Such goods are not dependentupon consequential gain orbenefits, but logicallydiscerned through reasonaccording to the Good Will.Categorical, nothypothetical,imperatives.
22Acting out of a sense of ‘duty for duty’s sake’ is cold and impersonal Kant argues that thegood will requiresthat an individualfollow reason andacts out of a senseof dutyalone.For Hume reason simplyprovides the means, thedevices, for gaining whatthe passions desire.Reason is and ought to be the slave of the passions, and cannever pretend to any other office than to serve andobey them.According to Kant theperson who enjoys andtakes pleasures in helpingsomeone is therefore NOTacting morally – as they arefollowing their inclinationsanddesires.Hume’s view of morality isopposed to that of Kant, asHume believed morality wasbased on a universal sentimentof benevolence / fellow feeling.Kant’s categoricalimperative is therefore contraryto human nature as physical,desiring human beings.For Hume sentiments such assympathy, altruism, cooperation andmutual respect are grounded not inreason or duty, but in what humannature desires and feels.David Hume
23It is worth making lateral comparisons with other other moral philosophers … this demonstrateshigher order thinking skills.Analysis / Application / Analysis / Application / AnalysisYet, Aristotle would have parted company with Kantian duty which actsin isolation from emotion,“We may even go so far as toState that the man who does not enjoy performing noble actions is nota good man at all. Nobody wouldcall a man just who does not enjoyacting justly, nor generous whodoes not enjoy generous actions…”Nichomachean EthicsOn the one hand Aristotle,like Kant, recognisesthe importance of reason,“If the intellect isdivine compared withman, the life of the intellectmust be divine compared tothe life of a human being.”Nichomachean Ethics
24Duty, without guidance from human benevolence and sympathy, can lead to rigid moral fanaticism Trial of Adolph Eichmann, Chief Administrator of the HolocaustJerusalem 1961Official Record of Adolph Eichmann’s pre-trial police examination“Eichmann suddenly declared with great emphasis that he had lived his whole lifeaccording to Kant’s moral precepts, and especially according to aKantian definition of duty… I meant by my remark about Kantthat the principle of my will must always be such that it canbecome the principleof general laws.”‘Eichmann also cited, in support of his Kantian attitude to his duty, the fact thatout of the millions of cases that passed through his hands, he allowed sympathy tosway him from his path of duty on only two occasions. The implication clearly is that onother occasions he felt sympathy for the Jews he was sending to the gas chambers, butbecause he believed one should do one’s duty unaffected by sympathy, he steadfastlystuck to his duty, instead of being tempted to bend the rules and help the Jews.’(Source: Peter SingerHow are we to live? p. 220)
25Implications of Kant’s emphasis on reason…the loss of the human spirit? Reason Passions?“Unless reason takes thereins of government intoits own hands, the feelingsand inclinations play the master over the man.”“Reason is and oughtto be the slave of thepassions.”For Kant persons are respected because of their rationality.Like Star Trek’s Data intelligence, logic and reason are morally significant.But where is the space for the human spirit within an android?!Implications offollowing Kantand the exclusivepath of reason
26Resolving Conflicting Duties…? Both positions can be universalized, as much depends onwhether the foetus is thought to be a life with potential orapotentiallife.Judith JarvisThomsonbelievesthat a womanhas a duty toherself to pursueher own life andif a pregnancyinterferes thenabortion isacceptableMother Teresabelieved shehad a duty toprotect thelife of innocentfoetuses andso opposedabortionWhathappenswhendutiesconflict?“Duty for duty’s sake”But
27Kant’s Contradiction? For Kant is virtue not its own reward? So why does Kant postulate a life after death where the virtuous are rewarded by God with happiness?Has the categorical imperative turned hypothetical?Virtue is its own reward?Is happiness a rewardfor virtuous conduct?DeontologicalConsequentialIntrinsic goodWilled for its own sakeInstrumental“Means to an end”Categorical ImperativeHypothetical Imperative
28Kant is Speciesist Lack of respect for animal rights “But so far as animals areconcerned, we have nodirect duties. Animals arethere merely as a means to anend. That end is man.”Although Kant does not uphold theBiblical sanctity of human life (imageof God) as the Bible is based upon revelation and faith… NeverthelessKant is speciesist, as he thoughthuman beings alone are rational,and so non-rational beings (i.e animals)have no moral significance.Jeremy Bentham, founder of utilitarianism,considered that sentience was an ethicallyimportant characteristic – the ability to feelpleasure or pain.More recently Peter Singer, a preferenceutilitarian, has developed Benetham’s thinkingasserting that personhood is central to ethicalrights. Singer argues that many animals havesentience, rationality and relationships(e.g. chimps and dolphins) and so areethically significant.But…“The question is notcan they reason,can they talk,but can they suffer?”(Jeremy Bentham)
29The ‘Good will’ is not enough… Consequences do matter! Similarities between Kant and MarxLike Kant, Karl Marx considered that as peopleare rational they are capable of making free choicesand should be treated with respect, ends in theirown right, not as means to a capitalist end.People should collectively act as though they werea member of a law making kingdom of ends.“The philosophershave onlyinterpreted the worldin various ways;the point is tochange it.”(Karl Marx)HOWEVRHistorical MaterialismMarx believed that it was essential to change people’s social situation.Having a good will is not enough. The consequences of moral action and social goals which result in a fairer society are extremely important.
30The Case of the Inquiring Murderer If a `would be’ murderer asked you where his next intended victim was hiding (and you are sheltering her in your house) should you lie?Do not lieLieIt is impossible to universalize lying – as people would stop believing one anotherBut it would be possible to universalize “Lie - if so doing would save an innocent person’s life.” There is no contradiction here and it promotes beneficial consequences.But by lying you might inadvertently cause the death of the innocent person. You can never know for sure that good consequences will occur by lying. So you should always avoid doing evil – and so should never lie.Even if a murder does occur, it will not be your fault, as you will have acted out of a sense of duty, following the categorical imperative.James Rachels* Kant is wrong to take such a pessimistic view of our ability to predict consequences with accuracy.* It is highly questionable that one would have no moral responsibility for the person’s death – after all by not lying one has aided the criminal
31Ross’s Prima Facie Duties An antidote to Kant’s absolute and universal approach Ross asserted that we havePrima Facie duties “at first glance” which we recognise intuitively through reasonPrima facie duties are therefore more flexible than Kant’s rigid, absolute and universal moral maxims as they may change accordingto the particular contexts and likely consequences.Prima facie duties areconditional dutiesand ought be followed,and so become actual duties,unless circumstances meanthat there is an over-ridingreason not to follow theme.g. I ought not to lie, unlesslying might mean savingan innocent life.W.D. RossIntuitionistSo Ross, like Kant, believed thatmorality is objective.But, unlike Kant, Ross did not believe that morality was absolute and universal.
32W.D Ross: Prima Facie Duties Prima Facie duties “at first glance” which the mature person recognises intuitively through reasonWhat should one do when intuitions conflict? For example:Do you lie to a gunman to protect the intended innocent victim?Protect innocentlife.Do not lieW.D. RossPrima Facie Duties are conditional, not absolute, and may change depending on the situation.
33W.D. Ross was an intuitionist who argued that the mature person intuitively knows what is good. Morals, like the principles of mathematics, are self-evident.Morality is objective, but morals are conditional – whether they should be followed depends on which is one’s over-riding duty in the particular situation.W.D. Ross takes a deontological, not consequential approach, “Besides the duty of fulfilling promises I have and recognise a duty of relieving distress, and that when I think it is right to do the latter at the cost of the former, it is not because I think I shall produce more good thereby but because I think it the duty which is in the circumstances more of a duty.” (W.D. Ross)
34W.D. Ross Six Prima Facie Duties (Duties one intuitively ought to follow,in the absence of an over-riding duty)Fidelity – faithful to promises made.Gratitude – appreciation for support offered.Justice – impartial, equal treatment of others and distribution of pleasureBeneficience – help for others.Self-improvement – self-fulfilmentNon-malificence - avoid harming others.Ross does not rankthese duties in orderof importance.The mature personintuitively knowsthese prima facie duties are true and may follow the appropriate duty given the demands of the particular situation.
36Is Hunting the Romanian Brown Bear Moral? Romania is the only country in Europe, apart from the former Soviet Union, where the `sport’ of hunting bears is legal.Aves, a nature protection group, are concerned that current hunting will lead to the extinction of the brown bear in Romania, home to the largest European number of bears outside of Russia.Would a Kantian support current Romanian legislation which approves of such hunting.
37Is Hunting the Romanian Brown Bear Moral? Some further points to consider…There are currently 6,276 brown bears in Romania, Romanian government officials claim this is higher than the ideals figure of 4, 080 recommended by specialists who have monitored the existing habitat.The Romanian government has licensed 658 bears to be shot this season.Romania is a poverty-stricken country and earns a large amount of foreign currency from hunting; last year making £21 million.Brown bears are sentient beings, who fulfil many of the personhood criteria outlined by Peter Singer.Hunting can involve cruel practises .
38Should Tyrants and Terrorists Face the Death Penalty? Should people who deliberately inflict torture and suffering on innocent people, to the point of death, face capital punishment for their actions?Al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein are two examples of those who have been accused of committing crimes against humanity.How might a Kantian respond? Be sure to offer reasons for your views.
39Capital Punishment for Tyrants and Terrorists Capital Punishment for Tyrants and Terrorists? Some further points to consider…George Bush is in favour of Capital Punishment, believing in retributive justice.Alternatively Desmond Tutu adopts a position of restorative justice – looking to see how the grace of God may reform perpetrators of evil and heal those who have experienced dreadful wrong doings.For Kant treating a person as an end in their own right meant holding them to account for their particular actions.
40Is Compulsory Aversion Therapy Moral? In Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange the film’s anti-hero, Alex, is a hostile and violent youth who terrorises people in the communityIn order to correct Alex’s anti-social behaviour he is subjected to cinematic brainwashing, a type of aversion therapy, where he is physically compelled to watch scenes of violence and pornography which cause him to be sick and so condition his future behaviour.Alex
41Is Compulsory Aversion Therapy Moral? Some further points to consider…A utilitarian might argue that greater emphasis should be placed on reforming the offender, not only for their own sake, but also for the future safety and protection of society.Kant believed in retributive justice where the individual received the due punishment their crime warranted.However, the autonomy of the individual is vital. The state should not manipulate people to its way of thinking if this is contrary to their personal wishes.
42Psychological Autopsy For Serial Killers? Would it be moral to offer Serial killers preferential treatment in prison if they agreed to a `psychological autopsy’ with the aim of finding out more about serial killing, so as to assist police in preventing future crimes?Offer a Kantian response to this suggestion. Be sure to give reasons to support your views.Be sure to think about theimplications of your views.
44Plato (384-322 BC) The Republic Kant worked within a Platonic tradition and, like Plato, believed in two realms of human existence:(1) The intelligible world which Kant called the Noumenal realm. (The inaccessible world of things in themselves; constant and unchanging)(2) The sensible world which Kant called the phenomenal realm. (The world as it appears to us. Changing and transient)
45Kant’s Lutheran Background The Lutheran background of Kant’s parents emphasized intrinsic values such as sincerity, honesty and integrity as opposed to church doctrine (official teachings).The foundation for Kant’s universal idea of duty was also a feature of the pietism of the Lutheran church and so influenced this feature of Kant’s categorical imperative.
46Rousseau’s Social Contract There is an `urban myth’ of the time when Kant was so engrossed by reading Rousseau’s Social Contract that he was delayed for his famous daily `philosopher’s walk’ – and the townsfolk, who kept their watches by Kant’s daily walk, were all late for their appointments that day!Central to Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Social Contract is the freedom and dignity of all human beings. This influenced Kant’s ideas.By having free will and following their rational selves people are truly autonomous. People are capable of establishing their own code of morality; as opposed to having morality imposed upon them by a moral law giver, be it God or the church.
47Rationalism versus Empiricism Rationalists, such as Rene Descartes, thought that reason could explain the working of the world; without reference to sense experience.Conversely John Locke’s empiricism argued that the mind was like a tabula raza (blank sheet of paper) which was informed by the world of experience.Kant rejected Locke’s empiricism, arguing that the rational mind is capable of structuring and interpreting sense experience.Rene DescartesJohn Locke
48Newton’s Laws of Nature Newton explained the physical world as being governed by universal laws of nature.Kant accepted Newton’s laws of nature as governing the sensible, empirical world (which Kant called the phenomenal realm)But Kant also asserted the intelligible realm (which he called the noumenal realm) accessible by reason alone. Such a realm is the moral realm, accessible through reason alone which, like Newton’s laws of nature, is universal.
49Kant showed great respect for David Hume as a philosopher. For Hume sentiments of sympathy and benevolencewere the core of human morality.However, Kant strongly disagreedwith Hume’s moral philosophythat “reason is and ought to be the slave of the passions.”“Unless reason takes the reins ofgovernment into its own hands,the feelings and inclinationsplay the master over the man.”(Immanuel Kant)David Hume
50The Dawn of the Enlightenment “Enlightenment is man’s emergence from self-imposed immaturity. Immaturity is the inability to use one’s understanding without guidance from another. This immaturity is self-imposed when its cause lies not in lack of understanding, but in lack of resolve and courage to use it without guidance from another. Sapere Aude! (Dare to Know) Have courage to use your own understanding! That is the motto of enlightenment.”Kant, What is Enlightenment (1784)
51Ross’s Prima Facie Duties An antidote to Kant’s absolute and universal approach Ross asserted that we havePrima Facie duties “at first glance” which we recognise intuitively through reasonPrima facie duties are therefore more flexible than Kant’s rigid, absolute and universal moral maxims as they may change accordingto the particular contexts and likely consequences.Prima facie duties areconditional dutiesand ought be followed,and so become actual duties,unless circumstances meanthat there is an over-ridingreason not to follow theme.g. I ought not to lie, unlesslying might mean savingan innocent life.W.D. RossIntuitionistSo Ross, like Kant, believed thatmorality is objective.But, unlike Kant, Ross did not believe that morality was absolute and universal.
52Socrates says...This fascinating quotation illustrates an essential aspect of Kant’s philosophy:The heavenly stars above show how insignificant human beings are in relation to the rest of the vast universe.(2) Yet, because human beings have the ability to reason they have intrinsic value and dignity, as humanity is capable of being a moral agent, unlike all other beings in the world.(3) The human will, a priori, can use reason to comprehend the moral law of the universe.
53Noumenal Realm Reason a priori (prior to experience) Discovers the Moral lawFreedom ofthe willThe moral law is based on reason, a priori, which in order to be valid must be universal – as otherwise it would be contrary to reason. To claim that an action is right for me, but wrong for you, in the same situation, is illogical.UNIVERSALAbsoluteNecessityEmpiricism(Sensesexperience)Kant accepted Newton’s laws of science, explaining how the phenomenal world is governed by universal laws of nature.CausallyDeterminedIsaac Newtona posteriori(after experience)Discovers lawsof naturePhenomenal Realm
54Socrates says...Kant considered that morality is a priori, which individuals can freely choose, in the noumenal realm, when following reason.“The ground for obligation must be looked for, not in the nature of man nor in the circumstances of the world in which he is placed, but soley a priori in the concepts of pure reason.” (Kant, Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals)
55NOUMEAThe moral self is the noumenal self, the self as it is in-itself.In the noumenal realm the laws of nature do not apply, the individual can be truly free, untouched by the laws of science.The noumenal realm is accessible by reason alone.“Everything in nature works in accordance with laws. Only a rational being has the power to act in accordance with his idea of laws – that is in accordance with principles – and only so has he a will.”“When we think of ourselves as free, we transfer ourselves into the intelligible world and recognise the autonomy of the will together with its consequences – morality; whereas when we think of ourselves as under obligation, we look upon ourselves as belonging to the sensible realm”Groundwork of the Metaphysicsof MoralsPHENOMAKant accepted that in the phenomenal realm Newton’s laws of science applied, resulting in laws of universal necessary causation where everything could be determined according to the laws of nature.Physical functions of the human body are restricted by the laws of nature in the phenomenal realm.Isaac Newton
56Socrates says...According to Kant the good will is the sole intrinsic good as it is good in itself and requires no further qualification.It is different from other goods, such as pleasure or courage, as other goods can be misused by wicked people and so they cease to be good.By contrast the good will always adopts a motive of willing the good for its own sake, according reason.
57Socrates says...The good will is grounded in the freedom of the individual. It is not imposed upon someone by the state, church or any other organization.The individual follows their moral, noumenal, self and so is free from the causal necessity of the phenomenal realm.
58Socrates says...The good will is known a priori through reason and not a posteriori through sense experience.Sense experience, the empirical realm, is dependent on peoples’ desires and inclinations and as such it is no basis for the moral law.The Moral law acts in accordance with reason and is therefore universal and absolute.Being known a priori, through reason, the good will is a democratic ethic – open to every rational human being and is therefore not elitist – unlike some aristocratic regimes who imposed moral laws on the under-class.
59Socrates says...The good will acts out of a sense of duty to the moral law which is understood by reason, a priori.The good will does not act out of a sense of pursuing happiness, as Kant recognised that happiness is:(a) not an unqualified good i.e. a person wishes to be happy for a purpose and(b) happiness without good will is undeserved luck and at the mercy of contingent factors of the empirical realm.
60Socrates says...Act only on that maxim through which you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law.This ensures that moral judgements are impartial and objective and so avoids the dangers of appealing to self-interestReason maintains that the moral law be applied universally; to admit of exceptions to the rule would be inconsistent and therefore illogical.
61Socrates says...(2) Treat other human beings as an end in their own right, never as a means to an end.People should be treated with respect and dignity as all human beings are rational beings and therefore are worthy of the respect of the moral law.Kant deliberately asserts a moral law that upholds equality and does not treat people differently according to class, wealth or race. Such an ethic of equality was forward looking in the eighteenth century.
62Socrates says...(3) Act as though you are a member of a law making kingdom of endsKant regarded the moral community as a kingdom of people who should apply moral maxims in such a way that showed respect for others (based on their rationality) and, in line with reason, moral maxims should be universal in application – thus maintaining the justice of impartiality.
63Socrates says...Understanding the word POSTULATE is vital to appreciating Kant’s moral reasoning.Kant is NOT saying that he has proven the existence of God.Rather, the term `postulate’ means “to assume without proof, especially as the basis of an argument.”So, for Kant, in order for the universe to be rational it is necessary to postulate that humans to have an immortal soul which, after bodily death, is judged by God.God’s existence therefore is a necessary postulate; as God acts as a moral guarantor – ensuring that justice occurs. Those who have lived a moral life on earth in accord with the good will receive eternal happiness.
64Socrates says...It is worth noting that whilst Kant claimed that “people should be treated as an end, never as a means to an end” there are seriously implications of this assertion.Kant believed that justice requires holding people to account for their moral actions. For example, believing in retributive justice Kant was in favour of Capital Punishment for serious offences. “Even if a civilised society resolved to dissolve itself with the consent of its members… the last murderer in prison ought to be executed before the resolution was carried out. This ought to be done in order that every one may realise the deserts of his deeds, and that blood guiltiness may not remain on the people.”
65Socrates says... HAPPY BIRTHDAY MUM Imagine you are a mother of twin boys: Immanuel and David You receive two birthday cards sent by contrasting philosophies…HAPPY BIRTHDAYMUMI should send mum a card (this can beuniversally applied and respects her rationality – end in own right) - but I must make sure I take no pleasure and don’t enjoy writing Happy Birthday.. (!?)A celebration to enjoy!Birthdays are an opportunity toexpress our love and appreciation.A son cannot love a mother for duty’s sake. Acting out of a sense of `duty for duty’s sake’ is cold and impersonal and is a denial of what it is to be a (per)son!(Mum)
66Socrates says...A serious criticism of any philosophy is that of inconsistency; and it is this weaknesses that is charged against Kant.Kant’s “good will” emphasises intrinsic values, and yet at the last moment Kant seems to appeal to a consequential, hypothetical imperative, as justification for behaving in a virtuous way.This consequential justification, that virtue will be rewarded by happiness after bodily death, suggests that the good will is not followed purely for its own sake – but rather for the posthumous prize of eternal happiness, so undermining the whole of Kant’s supposedly deontological ethic.
67Socrates says...It seems ironic that Kant should reject belief in God as the authority for ethics (on the grounds that human beings would cease to be autonomous) and yet, in order to make sense of his belief in justice, Kant ends up postulating the existence of God as a divine moral guarantor.One may also ask `Why does one need a God to act as a moral guarantor? Why not simply a powerful angelic being?
68Socrates says...Kant’s understanding of humanity’s duty toward animals only arises indirectly.Kant would argue along the lines that, “Inhuman treatment of animals blunts our sympathy with their suffering and thereby weakens our natural disposition which is very helpful to our morality in relation to other people.”In short, if human sympathy with animal suffering is blunted, then people may start to lose the inherent respect (person end in own right) of other people.
69Socrates says...James Rachels argues that by offering specific categorical imperatives it is possible to overcome the rigidity of Kant’s universal application of moral maxims.Alasdair MacIntyre has argued a similar point, “with sufficient ingenuity almost every precept can be universalized. For all that I need to do is characterize the proposed action in such a way that the maxim will permit me to do what I want while prohibiting others from doing what would nullify the maxim if universalized. e.g. ‘I may break promises only when….’ The gap is filled by a description devised so that it will apply to my present circumstances but to very few others. In practice the test of the categorical imperative imposes restrictions only on those insufficiently equipped with ingenuity.” (A Short History of Ethics p. 198)