What is the nature of deontology?
consequentialist, subjective, teleological, intrinsic value on consequences
objective, absolutist, intrinsic value on actions
Tick the different types of deontology.
monistic (e.g. Kant)
pluralistic (e.g. W.D. Ross)
Divine Command Law (e.g. Decalogue)
contractualism (e.g. rules in school)
duty (e.g. obligations)
Deontological constraints are rules or laws that make sure we refrain from doing wrong actions.
What does Kant believe about reason and the moral law?
There is an objective moral law that exists in the universe. "Moral rules exist and they are binding" (Bowie's Ethical Studies). We use reason to work out the moral law. Reason is so important that Kant refers to it as the "sovereignty of reason".
Kant takes an a priori approach because we use reason to work out the moral law logically and no experience is needed. It is also synthetic because Kant believes that even though we don't use experience, the conclusion is not contained within the premises.
Kant takes an a priori approach because we use reason to work out the moral law logically and no experience is needed. It is also analytic because Kant believes that even though we don't use experience, the conclusion is contained within the premises.
There is an objective moral law that exists in nature.
How is Kant different from Hume?
Kant focuses on practical reason whereas Hume focuses on sentiments.
Kant is a rationalist and Hume is an empiricist.
Kant is an empiricist and Hume is a rationalist.
Kant focuses on theoretical reason.
Kant believes that God leads to morality.
What does Kant believe about good will and duty?
For Kant, good will is when we use our will in a moral way. Good will is our motive and will always lead to moral acts since good will is unquestionably good and has intrinsic value.
Good will is not the only motive we can use. For example we could use the virtue of courage to motivate us to act morally.
According to Kant, we also need duty in order to avoid prudent self-interest. Therefore, we must do duty for duty's sake and not for any other reason.
Kant believes we should use natural inclination to help us act morally since it revolves around feelings.
Kant believes that all acts are good because of the right motives of good will and duty, which are dispassionate and universal.
Nagel says we are bound to duty when we make promises.
What is the difference between the hypothetical imperative and the categorical imperative?
The hypothetical imperative is conditional and involves consequences. Whereas the categorical imperative is unconditional and based on self less duty without feeling.
The hypothetical imperative uses hypothetical reason whilst the categorical imperative uses categorical reason.
We are morally bound by the hypothetical imperative whereas the categorical imperative is optional.
Tick the three formulations of the categorical imperative.
the law of nature / universalisability
formula of end in itself
formula of the kingdom of ends
According to Kant, there are four types of duty. Perfect duties are inflexible and there are no exceptions. Imperfect duties are more flexible and offer some choice as to how to fulfil them.
1. Perfect duty to ourselves: We have a duty to preserve our life and not commit suicide.
2. Perfect duty to others: We have a duty to not make false promises to others and treat people meaningfully.
3. Imperfect duty to ourselves: We have a duty to develop our talents but we can decide which ones to develop and to what degree.
4. Imperfect duty to others: We have a duty to help others, such as giving to charity, but we can decide how much we help.
What is the summum bonum?
the supreme or highest good / "virtue crowned with happiness" (Bowie's Ethical Studies) / God-given gift after we die / immortality of the soul
eudaimonia once we reach heaven
the punishment we receive if we don't follow our duty
Tick FOUR strengths of Kant's Deontology.
Everyone is equal because the categorical imperative focuses on having universal and fair moral commands that treat people with value.
Kant's Deontology is accessible to everyone because it uses reason.
Kant is cold and inhumane, making moral decision making simpler.
We are not dictated by God since morality leads to God. This perhaps promotes a more positive relationship with God, who rewards and praises us in the after-life rather than ordering us around.
By not focusing on feelings and emotions, we remain rational and are in control when making moral decisions.
Kant's Deontology doesn't consider the circumstances around the moral action.
W.D. Ross is an example of pluralistic deontology because there are 7 prima facie duties. Ross allows some flexibility in deontology because we can decide which of the 7 prima facie duties to use in certain situations, using our intuition. We don't just rely on one duty like Kant.
Tick FOUR weaknesses of Kant's Deontology.
Although Kant says we are autonomous moral agents, we are only free as long as we obey the the rules of the categorical imperative. This seems quite restrictive.
MacIntyre: We can use the universalisability principle in the categorical imperative to justify anything we want. This could lead to absurd rules and confusion.
Barclay: We need clear rules in order to avoid chaotic anarchy in society.
Nagel and Williams: Kant ignores the circumstances surrounding a moral action. We might think we are doing the morally right thing by following our duty but we may be causing harm. It isn't clear.
Kant's theory isn't well suited to the real world where complex decisions need to be made. Kant's Deontology is just too restrictive to be accessible to many in the modern world.
Hume would argue that Kant commits the is-ought gap. This can be seen as an AO2 weakness but here is the nuance (the subtlety): You could argue that Kant avoids the is-ought gap. Kant clearly makes an 'ought' statement but he doesn't actually make an 'is' statement. Instead, Kant uses rationality and suggests that an 'ought' implies a 'can'. Kant avoids the descriptive 'is' statements and argues that if we ought to carry out an action than we CAN and are morally obliged too.