Ethics II Immanuel Kant - The Ethics of Immanuel Kant Kants...

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The Ethics of Immanuel Kant
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Kant’s Concern is with the INTENT of an action, not with its consequences. Like a jewel, a good will shines by its own light
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INTENTION CONSEQUENC E Kantians Focus on the Intent of the Act Utilitarians Focus on the Consequenc es of the Act
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To have a GOOD WILL, one’s INTENT must be to do one’s DUTY INCLINATION To have true moral worth, an action must not be done just out of inclination, even if one is inclined to make other people happy . . .
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To have true moral worth, an action must not be done out of regard for the effects or consequences of the action CONSEQUENCES
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To have true moral worth, an action must be done out of duty, which means acting in accord with the moral law. . . DUTY The CONCEPT of Law RATIONAL BEING . . . a rational being can act according to the concept of law, which determines duty
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Kant is not talking about obeying particular laws, which have a definite content, but rather conforming to the formal idea of “law in general,” as something that applies to everybody, across the board He illustrates discovering one’s duty this way when considering whether or not to make a false promise
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In deciding whether or not to promise falsely, one is supposed to ask, “Can I will that everyone in a similar situation should make a false promise?” When one reasons it through, it becomes clear that one cannot rationally will such a thing, hence it must be wrong
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An Imperative = A Command A Hypothetical Imperative = “If I want X, then I must do Y” A Categorical Imperative = “I must do Y no matter what”
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THE CATEGORICAL IMPERATIVE Formulation #1: Universal Law
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Kant’s Categorical Imperative is a tool, like a Moral Compass—It Points You in the Right Direction
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Contemporary Kant Scholar Martin Schonfeld* on Kant’s Views About Lying *”The Green Kant: Environmental Dynamics and Sustainable Policies”
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The “Lying to the Nazis” Example
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Since moral worth comes from being able to conceive of the concept of law, which only rational beings can do, rational beings have moral worth and must be treated as “ends in themselves” Unfortunately for nonhuman animals, Kant does not consider them “rational,” and hence he says they may be treated as merely “means to an end”
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THE CATGORICAL IMPERATIVE Formulation #2: The End in Itself
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