Notes on Non-Consequentialism

Notes on Non-Consequentialism - Robichaud 1...

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Robichaud 1 Nonconsequentialism (constructed in part from material found in Onora O’Neill’s articles “Kantian Ethics” and “Kantian Approaches to Some Famine Problems,” and Frances Kamm’s “Nonconsequen- tialism”) Preliminaries Nonconsequentialist, or deontological, ethical theories distinguish themselves first and foremost by their rejection of consequentialism; specifically, all such theories maintain that it is not the case that the rightness or wrongness of an action is determined solely by the goodness or badness of the consequences of said action . The similarities between various forms of nonconsequentialism end there. Kantian Deontology Kant builds a theory of the Good out of a theory of the Right (in contrast to consequen- tialism); specifically, Kant claims that the right actions, or at least the morally permissi- ble actions, are the ones that conform to duty, and the good actions—the actions that have moral worth—are the right actions that are done for the right reasons. The Right Actions : How do we know what our duties are? Roughly, Kant tells us that they are the ac- tions/omissions we perform in conformance with a fundamental moral principle, which he calls the Categorical Imperative. Kant gives us several formulations of this principle, all of which he considers to be equivalent (most scholars think Kant is wrong about this). Importantly, he believes that we can arrive at this principle through reason alone, and that all other more specific moral principles can be derived from it. Formula of the Universal Law: Act only on that maxim through which you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law. ( Groundwork 4:21) Formula of the End in Itself (a.k.a., Formula of Respect for Persons): Act in such a way that you always treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, never simply as a means, but always at the same time as an end . ( Groundwork
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This note was uploaded on 03/14/2012 for the course GEN-ED ER24 taught by Professor Davidwikler during the Spring '11 term at Harvard.

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Notes on Non-Consequentialism - Robichaud 1...

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