2 “[I]n ethics what is right in theory must work in practice.”
3 Kant’s model The purpose of Ethical theory is to present the ground on which all ethical decisions rest.to identify the general form of (the formula for) moral goodness.
4 What is Moral goodness?“Nothing in the world can possibly be conceived as good without qualification except a good will.”A good will = a free intention to act according to moral law.
5 Morality is: A given reality: as law it is understood rationally “the moral law within”as law it is understood rationallyapplied consistently & impartiallywithout regard to outcomes or specific circumstancesexpressed in principles
6 Morality is not: a matter of what we feel a matter of what is most efficienta product of human invention or whim
7 Reason vs Feeling Feelings are particular & subjective tend to be arbitrary and unpredictableReason grasps what is universal & objectiveunderstands and applies principles
8 Kant assumes: Humans are inherently rational. Humans possess free will.Humans are composite beings.Body (inclinations) and mind (reason).Which tend to be in conflictThis conflict defines moral struggle.
9 The Moral Law: Kant’s Categorical Imperative Imperative: It commandsCategorical: It commands unconditionally, universally & absolutely, without exceptionA test for assessing the moral worth of any action:Can I will this action to become a universal law?
10 Act only on that maxim which you can will to become universal law.
11 What does Kant mean?maxim: personal principle of will that directs conduct.will: implies freedom of choiceWe choose our personal maxims.universal law: analogy is law of nature or laws of physics which apply equally & impartiallyLaws are objective& universally binding.
12 Kant’s Categorical Imperative Expresses the basis of all moral actionA formal directive expressing what one ought to do, what we are obligated to do.Distinguished from hypothetical imperative:Do x if you want y.
13 Principle of Autonomy Principle of Freedom: An action is moral if and only if it is:CHOSENfreelyrationallyBy the self (autonomously)Principle of Freedom:Freedom is a basic quality of the will of all rational beings.We cannot deny our freedom.
14 Understanding Duty Duty is rational obligation. We act morally when: we act “from a sense of duty”not just “in accordance with duty”Test of duty is not met when we act from:HabitInstinctInclinationFeelings of any kindA desire to achieve the best consequences
15 Categorical Imperative 2 Act always to treat humanity, whether in your own person or in that of any other, at the same time as an end, and never merely as a means.
16 Implications Human beings have intrinsic value. They are ends in themselves.No human should be treated merely as a means to someone else’s ends.This is a general moral rule.Individual Responsibility for all our rational actions.But what of non rational actions?How far does intrinsic worth extend?
17 Criticisms of Kant’s approach Critique 1: Kant’s emphasis on reason devalues the role of feeling and emotion in moral mattersResponse: Kant doesn’t say emotions don’t accompany morally potent situations, only that the ground of morality cannot be emotion.
18 Critique: CI admits of no exceptions Kant does not consider the weight of circumstancesReply: Kant does distinguish the ideal from the practical; wishing from doing.Critique: Anything imperative can be universalized if we qualify it sufficiently.Response: We must distinguish between categorical and hypothetical imperatives.
19 What people don’t like about Kant emphasizes struggleexcludes too many who seem gooddictates state of mind as a precondition of moralitycan’t handle conflicts of duty
20 Advantages of Kant’s perspective: He emphasizes intentions.Mind of the agent is the moral factor.He emphasizes human dignity.basis of modern moral understandingpromotes principlesequality & justiceimpartiality & universality
21 Philosophical Questions: What does Kant get right?Universality of human dignity?Imperative of respect?Can we correct the things in his theory we don’t like while preserving the best of his insight?