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Kantian Ethics (Duty and Reason) Guiding Principle 4.

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Presentation on theme: "Kantian Ethics (Duty and Reason) Guiding Principle 4."— Presentation transcript:

1 Kantian Ethics (Duty and Reason) Guiding Principle 4

2 Kantian Ethics This is an example of an autonomous value system. It is based on human reason. Kantian ethics is deontological (what matters is the intention, not the outcome) Immanuel Kant ( ) was a German philosopher. His moral philosophy is based on 2 key ideas –The Good Will –Duty

3 The Good Will The ‘good will’ can be likened to having good intentions For Kant, an action cannot be good unless it was performed out of ‘good will’ Therefore, a person’s inward motive must be good in order for the action to be good All humans have various capacities and skills. We need to use our good will to put them to good use. For example, most people have the capability to write. We must use our good will to direct the skill of writing towards good uses. Without good will, skills can be used for ‘bad’.

4 Duty A person is acting in a good way if they perform their duty. It does not matter what you feel you should do – you should always do your duty. You can know what your duty is by using your human reason. Example: If you see a homeless person and give them money because you feel sorry for them, then this is not a good action. If you see a homeless person and, with use of reason, decide that as a more ‘well off’ person your duty is to help, then giving them money on that ground would be good! In this case you are combining good will (intent) with duty and reason to perform a good action. A person’s duty can differ depending on the situation they are in (e.g. a mother’s duty is different to that of a teacher, and so on)

5 The Categorical Imperative Although your specific duty involves different things, there are compulsory moral laws which everyone has a duty to follow These are ‘imperatives’ The categorical imperative is a moral law that should apply equally to all people in all situations = it is universalisable!

6 The Categorical Imperative This is based on something similar to the Golden Rule If you think someone stealing something of yours is wrong, than anyone stealing anything should be wrong. If you would not like to be lied to, then no-one should lie. By doing this you are not just making the world a nicer place, but you are also making sure that morality is based on reason instead of emotion – it becomes consistent and equal to everyone. Kant argued that if a moral rule cannot be applied to all people at all times then it is meaningless.

7 The benefits of the Categorical Imperative Act only on that maxim which you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law. If you don’t want people to go around beating each other up, then you should never do it yourself. This kind of system is also good for personal relations: if you are treating everyone like this, then every person should be values as an individual and not ‘used’ for any reason (e.g. you should be interested in your cleaner as a person, not treat them like a slave!)


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