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Lecture 12--Deontology_Deontological Restraints _ Moral Catastrophes Ctools

Lecture 12--Deontology_Deontological Restraints _ Moral Catastrophes Ctools

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Deontology:  Deontological Constraints  & Moral Catastrophes Lecture 12:  Tues, February 15th
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Deontology and Consequences  Consequences are  all  that matter in  consequentialism.   Problem:  sometimes maximizing good  consequences requires doing morally horrendous  things e.g. organ farming And consequences don’t matter  at all  (it seems)   in deontology. Problem:  sometimes doing one’s duty/respecting  others leads to catastrophically bad consequences
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Deontology and Consequences, cont. Why do consequences not matter in  deontology? Consider the form of the sorts of duties  deontology typically involves: Negative duties:  duties that  constrain  how we can  treat other people; these duties protect other  people from harm E.g. don’t kill innocent people, don’t lie, don’t steal,  don’t treat others merely as a means Kant calls these duties “perfect duties”—  it is always  wrong to fail to fulfill them
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Deontology and Consequences, cont. Positive duties:  duties that require us to take  positive action to do good for others (or possibly  ourselves) E.g. give to charity, develop your talents Kant calls these duties “imperfect duties”—  you only  need to fulfill them  somtimes
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Constraints & Catastrophes Negative duties—constraints—are generally  much more important in deontological theories  than are positive duties Note, as Davis (213) and Kant do,  that usually these  constraints are understood to be absolute – it is never  morally okay to fail to meet a negative duty For example, remember Kant on the Axe-Murderer Case (Aside, most contemporary deontologists don’t accept Kant’s  answer and prefer something like Constant’s answer.  But it  is an open question whether they can make that answer  work.)
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A Worse Moral Catastrophe An Even Harder Case for Kant (and all  deontologists) What if what is at stake are the lives of billions of  innocent people? And to save them, we need to kill  (not just lie)?
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