Intro to Ethics Notes: Kant's Moral Theory
Intro to Ethics Notes: Kant's Moral Theory PHIL 160
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This 4 page Class Notes was uploaded by Julian Torian on Saturday March 28, 2015. The Class Notes belongs to PHIL 160 at Kansas taught by Ben Eggleston in Spring2015. Since its upload, it has received 136 views. For similar materials see Introduction to Ethics in PHIL-Philosophy at Kansas.
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Date Created: 03/28/15
Phil 160 Notes 39311 Kant39s Moral Theory lof2 Immanuel Kant Lived in Prussia now Kaliningrad Russia Lived 17241804 0 Most in uential philosopher of the past several centuries Hypothetical vs categorical imperatives Hypothetical imperatives are commands that apply to you in the condition that you have a certain goal Ex quotIf you want to get healthy then you should eat more vegetablesquot Categorical imperatives are commands that apply to you regardless of whether you have a speci c goal or not Ex quotDo not tell liesquot 0 The signi cance of this difference 0 All moral judgements are categorical imperatives o This is because they cannot escape the obligations of morality by saying that you don t have certain aims Morality applies to you regardless of your aims Other Normative theories also support this idea Kant s 1St formulation The Universallaw quotAn act is right if and only if its outcome is universalizablequot 1Think about an act you might do and think about its outcome Think of how to state a what you are doing and b why you are doing it 2 Imagine a world in which everyone supports and acts on the outcome to your action 3 Ask whether the goal of your act could continue in this world If it can then it s the right act If it cannot then it is the wrong act Kant s 2nOI formulation Humanityasanendinitself quotAn act is right if and only if it treats everyone as an end and no one as a mere meansquot Kant presented this as a different formulation of the categorical imperative because he thought it meant the same thing as the Universallaw The two formulations are supposed to be two ways of stating the same moral principle 0 To treat someone as simply just a means is to treat them only as a tool for your personal purposes instead of respecting what that person means to you Focus on a particular act you are thinking of doing See whether it would involve treating someone as a mere means 3 If it would then it s wrong If not then it s right 0 You can treat people as a means as in as a purpose just not as a MERE means Kant39s Moral Theory 20f2 Strengths to Kant s moral theory N 39 This theory has no trouble with certain cases that are regarded as problems for utilitarianism For example in the transplant case Kant s theory would prohibit the doctor from operating on the healthy person as that would be using them as a mere means Problems to Kant s moral theory 1The universallaw formulation implies that many bad acts are morally permissible because they do not involve making an exception of oneself 2The humanityasanendinitself formulation implies that certain humans and almost all nonhuman animals do not have moral standing 3 Kant offers several formulations of the categorical imperative and his claim that they are the same is hard to verify 1 Implications concerning acts that are bad but Consistent We have seen that the universallaw formulation effectively condemns acts that involve making an exception of yourself But it fails to condemn many other bad acts and policies 0 Ex homeowner who shoots trespassers to keep lawn nice Also fanatics such as slave owners Nazis or communists The main problem with this formulation is that it is based only on whether the main action is consistent or not It does not impose any external check on the kind of goal the person is aiming at external checks such as wellbeing freedom or justice 2 Implications concerning the scope of the moral community o The humanityasanendinitself formulation only applies to individuals who are rational and autonomous This excludes many people who are capable of feeling pleasure and pain such as non human animals most primates dogs cats rabbits birds reptiles sh etc 3 Many formulations of the categorical imperative Kant offers more than just the two formulations above He actually has around 5 or 6 formulations that he considers containing the same message 0 This is hard to verify however as they are stated in very abstract language and they use very different concepts
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