Kantianism - KANTIANISM (A FORM of DEONTOLOGY) Bobro...

Info iconThis preview shows pages 1–4. Sign up to view the full content.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
KANTIANISM (A FORM of DEONTOLOGY) Bobro Rachels, EMP, ch. 8 President Harry Truman decided to drop atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 based on utilitarian considerations. He reasoned: If America had not so acted, more than a million lives would have been lost. After signing the order, he "slept like a baby." First of all, from a utilitarian standpoint, it's debatable whether America (and the Allies in WWII) needed to drop atomic bombs on the Japanese mainland to turn the tide of the war. Kim Stanley Robinson has argued that we could have dropped a couple of nuclear bombs in the bay near Tokyo with the threat of the next one on the mainland itself. Second, aren't there some lines that can't be crossed no matter what? Truman thought the bombings were justified—they had shortened the war and saved lives. But philosopher Elizabeth Anscombe replies: "For men to choose to kill the innocent as a means to their ends is always murder." (Is the reference here specifically to men?!) Specifically in reference to Truman, Anscombe says, "Come now. If you had to choose between boiling one baby and letting some frightful disaster befall a thousand people—or a million people, if a thousand is not enough—what would you do?
Background image of page 1

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
Truman is not alone in thinking this way. On NPR "All Things Considered," Feb. 9, 2005, a colonel overseeing the West side of Baghdad said that he would do "whatever it takes" to gain freedom and stability for the Iraqi people. This sounds like the colonel is a non-utilitarian. But when asked, "What about all the casualties to American troops?" the colonel replied, "I think it's relative to the benefit." I think that even a utilitarian might have problems with the Iraq invasion, nevertheless the colonel seems to employ utilitarian thinking. Now, consider this objection: If it's the right thing to do—invade and occupy Iraq—it shouldn't matter how many casualties there are! Moreover, there are actions that are simply unjustifiable according to many who reject Utilitarianism. They are never right, no matter what great goods might result from their being performed. Anscombe mentions boiling a baby. The traditional Jewish-Christian ethic forbids: killing the innocent for any purpose (this is usually taken to include the unborn fetus), arbitrary punishment, incest, suicide, treachery, idolatry, sodomy, adultery, making a false profession of faith, blasphemy, etc. So, for many, some moral rules are ABSOLUTE. But for Kant allmoral rules are absolute. We will also see that for Kant moral rules are general. Immanuel Kant, "Good Will, Duty, and the Categorical Imperative," 113-122
Background image of page 2
Immanuel Kant agrees that moral rules are absolute. For moral rules are what he calls categorical imperatives. He makes a distinction between hypothetical and categorical imperatives (SS, 134). Hypothetical imperatives are conditional, whereas categorical imperatives are absolute.
Background image of page 3

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
Image of page 4
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

This note was uploaded on 10/26/2010 for the course PHIL 101 taught by Professor Bobro during the Fall '08 term at Santa Barbara City.

Page1 / 11

Kantianism - KANTIANISM (A FORM of DEONTOLOGY) Bobro...

This preview shows document pages 1 - 4. Sign up to view the full document.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Ask a homework question - tutors are online