Presentation on theme: "Morality As Overcoming Self-Interest"— Presentation transcript:
1 Morality As Overcoming Self-Interest Immanuel Kant
2 Immanuel Kant and His Ethics Kant was a philosopher during the enlightenmentHe was a ChristianHis ethical theory is known as Deontological – this means it is bound in our duty and so an action is only genuinely moral if it is prompted by a recognition of our duty.
3 Absolute and Objective Kant’s theory is also absolute – this means that once a rule has been made it applies absolutely – it cannot be broken and circumstances cannot be taken into accountSo for Kant actions are RIGHT OR WRONG IN THEMSELVESMoral judgements are also objective – they apply equally to all people
4 ComparisonObviously self-interested motives are subjective. They are particular to the individual, and so often in conflict with the interests of othersThose who follow the idea that ‘the end justifies the means’ (followers of teleological ethics) is fine when you’re the only one adhering to those guidelines, but very annoying when others start doing so tooFor Kant, genuinely moral motives are objective and universal insofar as they apply to all individuals no matter what differences in personal circumstances, character, desires, preferences etc.
5 Opinions... What do you think of Kant’s ideas so far? Can morals ever be truly objective?Do you think moral rules, or some moral rules, should be absolute and never take into account circumstances?What would be the advantages of having a system like this?
6 EmotionIf we act for any reason other than duty and the fact that the action is right in itself, for example, out of emotion, we are not acting morallyKant argues that because people have different emotional reactions, these reactions cannot be significant in evaluating the moral worth of an act. For a rational determination of our duties will be impartial and so will determine the same duties for everyone
7 What Effect This Analysis Has What this implies is that if I behave in a way which we would normally recognise as morally praiseworthy – e.g. regularly donating to charity – and if I do so simply because it has become habit, or because I feel like it, or because I hope that of I’m ever in trouble someone will be similarly generous, then this action is not properly speaking a moral actKant is also saying that someone who, through the use of reason, recognises their duty to help others in distress even though they have no compassion for their fellow human beings, is more praiseworthy than someone who would have helped others whether it were their duty or not because of compassion for others
8 Is This Possible? Do you think it’s possible to act without emotion? Do you agree that an act that has emotion as a motive is not genuinely moral?
9 The Two Can Go TogetherKant does accept that there are occasions when self-interest and duty coincide. He gives the example of a shopkeeper who has a fixed price for each of the goods in his shop, even when he could get away with ripping off naive customers by overcharging them
10 Thus people are served honestly; but this is not nearly enough to justify us believing that the shopkeeper has acted in this way form duty or principles of fair dealing; his interest required him to do so. The action was done neither from duty nor from immediate inclination, but solely from purposes of self-interest
11 For Hobbes this would be an example of how being moral is in our self-interest (customers keep coming back).Kant would claim that this is not really moral at all – it is the mere appearance of morality: it is not what we do that makes our action a moral one but the grounds on which to do it. In other words...
14 Good WillSo as far as Kant is concerned, it is our motive which determines the moral worth of an actThe genuinely moral motive for action (recognition of our duty) is what Kant terms the ‘good will’A good will is the only motive for what is intrinsically or unconditionally good. That is to say, an act which proceeds from the good will is good itself and not good because of its consequences
15 ReasonOur duties, or the judgements of the good will, are determined by reason aloneKant’s goal is to show that we should act morally to the extent that we are rational i.e. according to reason alone and not on the basis of feelings