Presentation on theme: "Introductory Comments to Kant’s Ethics. From the Introduction to HONEST WORK, Section 2 According to our textbook: Contemporary work = a group of people."— Presentation transcript:
Introductory Comments to Kant’s Ethics
From the Introduction to HONEST WORK, Section 2 According to our textbook: Contemporary work = a group of people interacting to achieve some common goals.
From the Introduction to HONEST WORK, Section 2 Successfully achieving these common goals requires standards about how the interacting people should treat each other.
From the Introduction to HONEST WORK, Section 2 These standards are ethical standards (this is what ethics is, principles about how people should act, especially the way they should treat each other).
Kant’s Ethics as Discussed in “ Respecting the Humanity in a Person” By Norman E. Bo wie
Bowie’s article explains Kant’s Ethics Kant’s ethics has two components, both of which he calls the Categorical Imperative. –The “Categorical” part mean “always, under any and all circumstances, no matter what.” The first component (Kant call this the first statement of the Categorical Imperative) is his version of the Golden Rule. The second component (second statement of the C.I.) is the Respect for Persons Principle)
The first statement of the Categorical Imperative is Kant’s version of the Golden Rule. “Act only on those ethical standards that you are prepared to have applied to you and, moreover, are prepared to legislate into universal law by your action.” –The first part of this is reversibility. Do unto others only as you are prepared to have them do unto you. –The second part of this is universalizability. Do not do something unless you are prepared to have everybody do it all of the time.
What does this first formulation of the Categorical Imperative mean in practice? Take the example of cheating: –It might be reversible. A person who cheats on a test when he or she knows that others have studied might be willing to have someone else cheat when he or she has studied. –However, it is not universalizable. No one would agree to a testing system in which everyone is cheating all of the time, because the resultant grades would have no meaning or utility. Consequently, a “cheat when needed to avoid failing” standard is not morally acceptable, and all instances of cheating are unethical.
What does this first formulation of the Categorical Imperative mean in practice? Take the example of breach of contract: –It is not reversible. No business would be willing to have another business break its contracts whenever convenient. –It is not universalizable. No one would agree to a business system in which contracts would be randomly upheld or broken depending on what businesses felt was convenient at the time. Commerce would simply become impossible. Consequently, a “break contracts whenever convenient” standard is not morally acceptable, and all instances of breaking contracts for purposes of convenience are unethical.
The second formulation of the Categorical Imperative is Kant’s Respect for Persons Principle. “Act only on those ethical standards that lead you to treat humanity (other persons and also yourself) always as an end and never as a means only.”
From Manuel G. Velasquez, BUSINESS ETHICS What does “treating humanity as an end” mean? Treat people only as they have freely consented to be treated beforehand. Develop each person’s capacity to freely chose for him or herself the aims he or she will pursue.
What does it mean to treat something as “means only?” To treat it as an instrument to achieve our interests. To attribute to it no other value than its usefulness to us. To deny it any independent value of its own.
Why is “means only” bad? Kant links the following together as the defining essence of humanity: –Rationality –The ability for self-governance as opposed to external causality –Moral agency, especially in the sense of moral responsibility –“Dignity” = having a value beyond all price Treatment as “means only” literally denies a person’s humanity.
What does this mean in practice? People must NOT be treated as objects incapable of free choice. People must not be manipulated, deceived, or otherwise unwillingly exploited to achieve the self-interests of another. Objects must not be given more value than people. On a scale of value from 0 to 1, only people may be assigned the value 1 (from Robert Hartman’s Axiology)
How can our actions go wrong? By pursuing an end in a way to which others cannot possibly consent, in particular, the others affected by the pursuit. By pursuing an end that another cannot share. By treating persons as having economic value only.
Examples As “ends also” –Employee agrees to an unsafe job in return for fair compensation. –Employer makes reduction in force its last resort. –Company enters into contracts in good faith. –Employer retrains/ relocates workers displaced by automation As “means only” –Employer lies to employee about the safety of the job. –Employer uses “downsizing” as it first response. –Company enters into contracts with intent to defraud. –Employer automates without concern/ response to human cost.