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Kantianism What matters is the motive. Immanuel Kant 1724-1804 born and died in Konigsberg, East Prussia (Germany)

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Presentation on theme: "Kantianism What matters is the motive. Immanuel Kant 1724-1804 born and died in Konigsberg, East Prussia (Germany)"— Presentation transcript:

1 Kantianism What matters is the motive

2 Immanuel Kant born and died in Konigsberg, East Prussia (Germany)

3 Key Ideas All human beings are worthy of respect, no matter who they are or where they live. Our worth comes from our ability to be rational. Being rational, (the ability to reason), gives us our value. Our rationality allows us to be free from other constraints. We are free to follow a law of our own (humanity’s own), which is constructed by pure reason.

4 Morality Moral value comes from doing what is right (no matter the consequences), not doing what brings us pleasure. Kant argues that only when we are doing things for their own sake (not as a means of achieving something else), do our actions have moral value.

5 The Baker A child visits a bakery with plenty of money to purchase bread. The child cannot read the signs and therefore the baker is able to charge the child whatever he wants for the bread. The baker chooses to charge the child the standard price for the bread. Is his action moral? (according to Kant)

6 Is the baker’s actions moral? It depends on his motivation: if he charges the child the correct price because he believes all people should be honest, then he is acting in accordance with a principle, and therefore he is being moral. However, if he is charging the child the correct price because he is afraid that others will find out he is dishonest and avoid his bakery, then the action has no moral value (even if it is the right thing to do) because he is just doing something as a means of getting at something else. (further riches)

7 Freedom Kant connects morality with freedom In order to be free, we must act autonomously: Act in accordance with a law we have constructed ourselves (out of reason) not a law given or imposed on us. Act in accordance with the law no matter the consequences (not in order to get something else)

8 Categorical Imperative “a moral law that is unconditional or absolute … the validity or claim of which does not depend on any ulterior motive or end” If the action is good of itself, independent of its outcome it is categorical For example, “Thou shalt not steal,” is categorical whereas “If you want a good business reputation, then don’t shortchange your customers” is an hypothetical imperative. If you want x, do y – its means end reason

9 Hypothetical Imperative: a means to an end

10 What laws? How do I know they are right? What do I do? Universalize your maxim ( the test to determine if something is moral) Treat a person as ends

11 Universalize your Maxim “Act only on that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law ” Maxim meaning a rule that explains the reason for doing what you are doing. Basically, only act on ideas that can remain true without exception. What if everybody did that? Will the action work for all?

12 Treat a Person as Ends A person is not a means to an end, but an end in and of themselves. A person has innate value and is worthy of respect. if we are using them as a way of achieving something else, then your maxim doesn’t work. This idea applies to yourself as well. You cannot objectify yourself, because then you are not recognizing the value in yourself. If you cannot objectify yourself, what would Kant find immoral?

13 Sample Maxim Individual Maxim: Should I have sex with multiple partners? Universal Maxim: What if everyone had sex with multiple partners? Result: There would be mass forms of STD’s, AIDS would spread at an unbelievable rate, there would be a complete breakdown of the family, all humans would become objects, therefore you should not have sex with multiple partners A person as ends: you and your chosen partner both have value --sex with multiple partners implies that you are using them as a way to satisfy a sexual desire, which is therefore a means to something else, and not moral.

14 Another Example Problems… Individual Maxim: Is it okay to be an Islamic Fundamentalist? Universal Maxim: What if everyone was an Islamic Fundamentalist? Result: This is fantastic because everyone is Islamic and believes what I do. But Wait – this is NOT the correct universal maxim!

15 Continued… New Universal Maxim: What if everyone was a Religious Fundamentalist? Result: Mass warfare on religion, no peace or dialogue between other religions – thus should not be a religious fundamentalist Therefore, it seems as though if you have the correct universal maxim then it could possibly work love one another seems to work here but we can’t even agree on what makes everyone happy and thus can we ever agree on the correct universal maxims?


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