moralty - 1 Utilitarianism: Through The Kantian Machine...

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Utilitarianism: Through The Kantian Machine Immanuel Kant’s suggested framework of morality may provide an elegant and useful law through which rational beings could potentially answer questions of morality. The law itself, called the Categorical Imperative, requires that one “act only on that maxim through which you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law” (52). That is, once one composes a maxim and wishes to question whether that maxim could become a moral law, then one must inquire if his or her subjective principal can, at the same time, be willed a universal law. Furthermore the Categorical Imperative appears to suggest that if one is faced with multiple choices and wishes to act morally, then he or she ought to act upon the maxim that passes the universality test. Kant’s imperative is elegant insofar as it does not impose any one system of morals on rational beings, but rather suggests a framework or objective principal through which one may analyze a proposed subjective principal. Where other moral systems require one to accept a maxim as moral law based on flawed argumentation or controversial premises, the Categorical Imperative seems to provide a useful mechanism through which one can eventually refine a suggested maxim into a suggested moral action. Additionally, Kant’s law is objective to the point of being timeless. Culturally dependant conditions that influence the moral decisions within a society are subject to change over time. This change results from reexamination of the preconditions that lead to a ratification of societies moral laws. Once these preconditions are found to differ from current societal norms or knowledge, then the next logical step is to reexamine everything dependent upon those old assumptions. Because Kant presents a framework to examine moral 1
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actions rather than a maxim, which claims status as moral rule, one can reexamine existing rules and their new preconditions to see if the rules still hold as moral. Thus, when used in the form as an iterative formula, the Categorical Imperative is timeless. In order to demonstrate what is meant by an iterative formula let us examine the analogy of a machine designed to evaluate an inputted maxim and then output a result that either affirms that maxim, making it morally true, or denies that maxim, making it morally false. We will call this the Kantian machine and add the additional properties that if a maxim is denied the machine provides reasoning for why the maxim is morally false and we can examine that reason, possibly fix its failures, and again resubmit it as input to the machine, thus giving us an iterative process. When used in this way Kant’s law becomes extremely useful as the machines central process and provides us with the structure needed to examine possible maxims for moral merit. All one must do is submit a maxim to the machine and if the maxim is rejected, then examine why, make any corrections, and resubmit. Otherwise the maxim is accepted and therefore becomes
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This note was uploaded on 04/11/2010 for the course PHIL 152 taught by Professor Sung during the Spring '07 term at University of Maryland Baltimore.

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moralty - 1 Utilitarianism: Through The Kantian Machine...

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