The Ethics of Duty More than any other philosopher, Kant emphasized the way in which the moral life was centered on duty.
Living by Rules Most of us live by rules much of the time. Some of these are what Kant called Categorical Imperatives: –unconditional commands that are binding on everyone at all times.
Categorical Imperatives: Universality “Always act in such a way that the maxim of your action can be willed as a universal law of humanity.” --Immanuel Kant
Fairness Kant saw that morality must be fair and evenhanded. The Kantian path offers a certain kind of moral safety in an uncertain world.
The Man of Duty “Suppose then that the mind of this friend of man were overclouded by sorrows of his own which extinguished all sympathy with the fate of others, but that he still had power to help those in distress, though no longer stirred by the need of others because sufficiently occupied with his own; and suppose that, when no longer moved by any inclination, he tears himself out of this deadly insensibility and does the action without any inclination for the sake of duty alone; then for the first time his action has its genuine moral worth… if such a man … were not exactly fashioned by [nature] to be a philanthropist, would he not still find in himself a source from which he might draw a worth far higher than any that a good- natured temperament can have? Assuredly he would. It is precisely in this that the worth of character begins to show—a moral worth and beyond all comparison the highest—namely, that he does good, not from inclination, but from duty.” -- Groundwork of a Metaphysics of Morals
Categorical Imperatives: Respect “Always treat humanity, whether in yourself or in other people, as an end in itself and never as a mere means.” --Immanuel Kant
Two Conceptions of Duty Duty as following orders –Duty is external –Duty is imposed by others Duty as freely imposing obligation on one’s own self –The Kantian model –Duty is internal –We impose duty on ourselves The second conception of duty is much more morally advanced than the first.
Basic Insights of Utilitarianism The purpose of morality is to make the world a better place. Morality is about producing good consequences, not having good intentions We should do whatever will bring the most benefit (i.e., intrinsic value) to all of humanity.
The Purpose of Morality The utilitarian has a very simple answer to the question of why morality exists at all: –The purpose of morality is to guide people’s actions in such a way as to produce a better world. Consequently, the emphasis in utilitarianism is on consequences, not intentions.
Fundamental Imperative The fundamental imperative of utilitarianism is: Always act in the way that will produce the greatest overall amount of good in the world. –The emphasis is clearly on consequences, not intentions.
The Emphasis on the Overall Good We often speak of “utilitarian” solutions in a disparaging tone, but in fact utilitarianism is a demanding moral position that often asks us to put aside self-interest for the sake of the whole. Utilitarianism is a morally demanding position for two reasons: –It always asks us to do the most, to maximize utility, not to do the minimum. –It asks us to set aside personal interest.
Carol Gilligan argues for male/female ethics: –male: ethics based on justice Everyone should be treated the same. –female: ethics based on care Base your response on the need of the person (equity). She identifies three levels of care: –care for one self; care for others; care based on moral principles
Ethics of Care Basic argument: ethical behavior is more than impersonal principlesBasic argument: ethical behavior is more than impersonal principles Relationships matterRelationships matter –Example: love toward son or daughter versus toward a stranger Care Principle: The morally correct action is the one that appropriately cares for the people with whom you have relationships.Care Principle: The morally correct action is the one that appropriately cares for the people with whom you have relationships.
Ethics of Care Gilligan believes that the two ethics are complementary, and should both be part of our moral reasoning. Ethics of care: results-oriented approach –focuses on the consequences of actions Ethics of justice: act-oriented approach –focuses on the person’s rights
Ethics of Care Care for your own needsCare for your own needs Care for the needs of people with whom you have relationships. Examples:Care for the needs of people with whom you have relationships. Examples: –Family –Friends –Employees –Customers –Stockholders
Ethics of Care What action helps those who are vulnerable and dependent on you?What action helps those who are vulnerable and dependent on you? What action nurtures the ability of those with whom you have relationships to make their own choices and live their own lives?What action nurtures the ability of those with whom you have relationships to make their own choices and live their own lives? But no obligation to nurture relationships that are based on domination, oppression, exploitation, hatred, or disrespect.But no obligation to nurture relationships that are based on domination, oppression, exploitation, hatred, or disrespect.
Ethics of Care “Caring should be viewed as a species of activity that includes everything we do to maintain, continue and repair our world so that we can live in it as well as possible.” –Tronto, 1993
Care as Process Caring about (attentiveness) Taking care of (responsibility) Care-giving (competence) Care-receiving (responsiveness)
Good Care Good care implies that the four elements of caring are integrated into an appropriate whole. Requires deep and thoughtful knowledge of the situation, and of all the actor’s situations, needs and competencies.