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Unformatted text preview: Deontology Deontology o The name of an approach to moral theory that focuses primarily on duty, rather than consequences. Theories of this kind are also sometimes called “Duty Ethics” o The name comes from deon , the Ancient Greek word for duty or obligation o Deontological views are essentially anti-consequentialist, i.e. deontologists think that at least sometimes we have obligations to act in ways that do not bring about the best consequences o The most famous defender of deontology was the great German philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724-1804). We will first examine a very different deontological theory defended by the British philosopher W.D. Ross (1877-1971) Absolutism o Recall from lecture on Natural Law Theory that absolutists believe that there are some things that are always wrong, no matter how good the outcome would be It is always wrong to intentionally kill human beings It is always wrong to lie o Elizabeth Anscombe famously protested against the US bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, following the first principle and Kant believed that rationality demands of us that we follow both of the above principles o However, deontologists don’t have to be absolutists. They can instead think that duties can be very stringent without being absolute (e.g. the duty not to kill is nearly always strong enough to prevent killing being justifiable) Conflict, choice, and judgment o Absolutists deny that there are genuine moral conflicts o The existentialist philosopher, Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980), famously sketched a case that involved a young man torn between a duty to stay with his mother to look after her during WWII and a duty to go fight for his country in the French...
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This note was uploaded on 02/22/2012 for the course PHIL 1305 taught by Professor Gordon during the Fall '08 term at Texas State.
- Fall '08