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Kant (6) Morality and autonomy Problems with Kant’s theory.

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Presentation on theme: "Kant (6) Morality and autonomy Problems with Kant’s theory."— Presentation transcript:

1 Kant (6) Morality and autonomy Problems with Kant’s theory

2 3 formulations of the CI Universal law formulation: Act only according to that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law (421). Formula of humanity: Act always so as to treat humanity, whether in your own person or that of anyone else, never merely as a means but always at the same time as an end (429). Formula of autonomy: Reject all maxims that are not consistent with the will's own legislation of universal law (431).

3 Formulations and points of view

4 Deriving the 3rd formulation I propose the maxim I find a maxim acceptable only if I can consistently propose it as a general rule I can do this only if everyone can find it acceptable (2nd formulation) Testing a maxim by the CI is seeing if it is consistent with the idea of the rational will of every person as legislative of universal law.

5 Elaboration The CI procedure binds agents only to principles they can give to each other as legislative members of a possible “kingdom of ends” By using the CI procedure I view all persons, including myself, as autonomous, that is as free beings equally sovereign with respect to the terms of our association.

6 Connection with contractualism Contractualism says that the correct moral principles are the ones that specify terms of association that would be included in an ideal agreement among the members of society Kant’s ideal agreement is the agreement on maxims that would be accepted as reasonable by legislators for a possible kingdom of ends.

7 Autonomy vs. heteronomy Autonomy: capacity of the will to be a law to itself (independently of any property of the objects of volition) (440) Heteronomy: determination of the will by an external or alien cause (441)

8 CI procedure reflects our autonomy If we can follow the CI, then our action stems solely from our powers of practical reasoning, that is, from our rational will. Our will is not determined by an attraction to any object outside itself--neither by an inclination (Humean passion) nor by an attraction to a perceived objective order of values (Plato). Plato and Hume treat the will as heteronomous

9 Four objections to the CI Sly universalizer objection Rules out morally irrelevant maxims Problem of the social environment Problem of dealing with evil

10 Sly universalizer objection “By designing a suitably specific maxim, I can get approval for any action” Example: I am to lie on a loan application when I am in financial difficulty with no other way of getting out of it, provided that I am or was the lecturer in Phil 241 at UWM in spring 2003, in order to ease the strain on my finances.

11 Possible replies Objection ignores sincerity condition Contrary to the objection, the maxim would not pass after all

12 CI rules out morally irrelevant maxims? Example: I am to practice shooting hoops in the school court at 10 a.m. on Saturdays in order to sharpen my skills. Possible reply: stated in this general way, it does raise a moral issue, and needs to be qualified

13 Problem of the social environment Example: deceitful promising in circumstances of injustice Possible diagnosis: this shows that Kant’s theory is at least incomplete, and needs to be complemented with a theory of justice and a morality for unjust situations

14 Problem of dealing with evil Classic case: Lying to the Nazi who comes to the door looking for the Jewish family hiding in your attic. Possible response: restrict Kant’s theory to ideal circumstances (the kingdom of ends); but then we need a theory for the non-ideal world. Could try a contractualist approach for this.

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