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Kantian Duty Ethics. Lesson 5. Kantian Duty Ethics. Immanuel Kant 18th century German Philosopher Believed reason could be used to work out a consistent and nonoverridable set of moral principles. Such m oral rules would be universal. . Kantian Duty Ethics.

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Kantian duty ethics1
Kantian Duty Ethics

  • Immanuel Kant

    • 18th century German Philosopher

      Believed reason could be used to work out a consistent and nonoverridable set of moral principles. Such moral rules would be universal.


Kantian duty ethics2
Kantian Duty Ethics

  • Kant’s ‘Duty’ ethics are a moral obligation which must come from within each individual.

  • Where do our military duties come from?


“The obligation to do our duty is unconditional. That is, we must do it for the sake of duty, because it is the right thing to do, not because it will profit us psychologically, or economically, not because if we don’t do it and get caught we’ll be punished. The categorical imperative was Kant’s name for this inbred, self-imposed restraint, for the command of conscience within that tells us that the only true moral act is done from a pure sense of duty.” Admiral James Stockdale


Kantian duty ethics3
Kantian Duty Ethics we must do it for the sake of duty, because it is the right thing to do, not because it will profit us psychologically, or economically, not because if we don’t do it and get caught we’ll be punished. The categorical imperative was Kant’s name for this inbred, self-imposed restraint, for the command of conscience within that tells us that the only true moral act is done from a pure sense of duty.” Admiral James Stockdale

“Morality is not based on the fact that it has instrumental value, that it often secures nonmoral goods such as happiness. Rather, morality is valuable in its own right.”

Louis Pojman on Kant


Kantian duty ethics4
Kantian Duty Ethics we must do it for the sake of duty, because it is the right thing to do, not because it will profit us psychologically, or economically, not because if we don’t do it and get caught we’ll be punished. The categorical imperative was Kant’s name for this inbred, self-imposed restraint, for the command of conscience within that tells us that the only true moral act is done from a pure sense of duty.” Admiral James Stockdale

“It is not our desires that ground morality but our rational will. Reason is sufficient for establishing the moral law as something transcendent and universally binding on all rational creatures.”

Louis Pojman of Kant


Kantian duty ethics5
Kantian Duty Ethics we must do it for the sake of duty, because it is the right thing to do, not because it will profit us psychologically, or economically, not because if we don’t do it and get caught we’ll be punished. The categorical imperative was Kant’s name for this inbred, self-imposed restraint, for the command of conscience within that tells us that the only true moral act is done from a pure sense of duty.” Admiral James Stockdale

  • Kant’s motivation:

    • wants “supreme principle of morality” with a firm foundation in reason...

    • wants principle with intuitive view about morality - Moral rules that are:

      • universally applicable

      • exert a special force on us

      • concerned with more than just outcomes


Kantian duty ethics6
Kantian Duty Ethics we must do it for the sake of duty, because it is the right thing to do, not because it will profit us psychologically, or economically, not because if we don’t do it and get caught we’ll be punished. The categorical imperative was Kant’s name for this inbred, self-imposed restraint, for the command of conscience within that tells us that the only true moral act is done from a pure sense of duty.” Admiral James Stockdale

What is good?

Only the ‘Good Will.’

Talents of mind, qualities of temperament, personal attributes, while desirable and beneficial can be misused without the Good Will.


Kantian duty ethics7
Kantian Duty Ethics we must do it for the sake of duty, because it is the right thing to do, not because it will profit us psychologically, or economically, not because if we don’t do it and get caught we’ll be punished. The categorical imperative was Kant’s name for this inbred, self-imposed restraint, for the command of conscience within that tells us that the only true moral act is done from a pure sense of duty.” Admiral James Stockdale

  • Kant’s Imperative or Command

    • Categorical Imperative (CI)

      • Single abstract principle

      • Different formulations - basic idea the same

      • Intuitive, immediate, absolute injunctions that all rational agents understand by virtueof their rationality.


Kantian definitions what is right
Kantian Definitions we must do it for the sake of duty, because it is the right thing to do, not because it will profit us psychologically, or economically, not because if we don’t do it and get caught we’ll be punished. The categorical imperative was Kant’s name for this inbred, self-imposed restraint, for the command of conscience within that tells us that the only true moral act is done from a pure sense of duty.” Admiral James StockdaleWhat is Right?

  • “GOOD WILL”: THE INTENTION/CHOICE THAT IMPELS A PERSON TO DO WHAT IS RIGHT, BECAUSE IT IS RIGHT. SELF IMPOSED, THROUGH REASON.

  • RIGHT ACTIONS: ARE THOSE ACTIONS DONE IN ACCORDANCE WITH “DUTY”

  • DUTY: ACTION MANDATED BY THE MORAL LAW. DOING THE THINGS YOU ARE PERMITTED BY THE CATEGORICAL IMPERATIVE

  • CATEGORICAL IMPERATIVE: A MORAL “TEST” FOR RIGHTNESS OF AN ACT

  • AN ACTION HAS “MORAL WORTH” IF IT CONFORMS TO THE REQUIREMENTS OF DUTY, AND IS DONE FOR THE SAKE OF DUTY, AND NOT FOR SOME OTHER INTENTION

Source: Captain Rubel USNA


Kant s categorical imperative
Kant’s Categorical Imperative we must do it for the sake of duty, because it is the right thing to do, not because it will profit us psychologically, or economically, not because if we don’t do it and get caught we’ll be punished. The categorical imperative was Kant’s name for this inbred, self-imposed restraint, for the command of conscience within that tells us that the only true moral act is done from a pure sense of duty.” Admiral James Stockdale

3 - Formulations

  • “Act only according to that maxim by which you can at the same time will that it would become a universal law.”

  • Act “as though the maxim of your action were by your will to become a universal law of nature” such as the laws of physics.

  • ‘Act so that you treat humanity, whether in you’re your own person or that of another, always as an end and never as a means only.’

  • - ‘Maxim’ refers to general rule with which agent intends to act.

    • - ‘Law’ refers to an objective principle, a ‘maxim’ which passes the test of universalizability.


  • In Kantian Terms, there is a difference between an action being Blameworthy, Acceptable and Praiseworthy.

  • BLAMEWORTHY ACCEPTABLE PRAISEWORTHY

  • - 0 +

  • |--------------------------------------------------------|--------------------------------------------------|

  • ACT ACT RIGHTLY ACT RIGHTLY

  • WRONGLY BUT NOT FROM AND FROM RIGHT

  • RIGHT MOTIVE MOTIVE (GOOD WILL)

  • Dr Larry Lengbeyer +

  • Captain Rubel USNA


Kantian duty ethics8
Kantian Duty Ethics being Blameworthy, Acceptable and Praiseworthy.

  • Categorical Imperative (CI)

    • If you wouldn’t want everyone to act on the rule, then that action is morally wrong.

    • Act “as though the maxim of your action were by your will to become a universal law of nature” such as the laws of physics.

    • Consequences?


Kantian duty ethics9
Kantian Duty Ethics being Blameworthy, Acceptable and Praiseworthy.

  • Results of Kant’s Categorical Imperative

    • one should treat people with respect

    • one should never lie

    • one should never commit suicide

    • one should never break one’s promises

    • etc.


Kantian duty ethics10
Kantian Duty Ethics being Blameworthy, Acceptable and Praiseworthy.

  • “Right actions are those actions done in accordance with duty”

  • What is the motive of duty? Reverence (respect) for the moral law.

  • Duty for the sake of duty?


Kantian ethics strengths
Kantian Ethics - Strengths being Blameworthy, Acceptable and Praiseworthy.

  • Realm of duty free from utility

  • Respect for persons

  • Golden rule – do unto others, expressed in rational terms

Source: Capt. Rubel USNA


Kantian ethics weaknesses
Kantian Ethics - Weaknesses being Blameworthy, Acceptable and Praiseworthy.

  • Hyper-rationality and lack of emotion

  • The irrelevance of inclination

  • Overly formal and universal, i.e., most of our duties are in social roles

  • Inflexibility

Source: Capt. Rubel USNA


Kantian duty ethics11
Kantian Duty Ethics being Blameworthy, Acceptable and Praiseworthy.

Consider: “But men and officers must obey…..”

Kantian Ethics?


Questions next
Questions? being Blameworthy, Acceptable and Praiseworthy.Next:

Truth - Telling


Kantian duty ethics12
Kantian Duty Ethics being Blameworthy, Acceptable and Praiseworthy.

  • Two approaches to moral reasoning:

    Teleological: related to the study of evidences of design in nature; relating to the use of design or purpose as an explanation of natural phenomena. Consequences can make an act right - Utilitarianism

    Deontological: related to the theory or study of moral obligation. Certain features of act or rule make it right or wrong. Ends do not justify means


Kantian duty ethics13
Kantian Duty Ethics being Blameworthy, Acceptable and Praiseworthy.

  • Suppose we evaluate a person as morally good for performing a good act - say, saving a drowning child - but did not know that the person did what they did out of self-interest - say, to get publicity or money.

  • Is this likely to change our evaluation of the act or of the person?

  • Can you think of contrasting cases, one where this knowledge would make a difference and one where it would not?


Kantian duty ethics14
Kantian Duty Ethics being Blameworthy, Acceptable and Praiseworthy.

  • Kantian ethics is often said to be grounded in a principle of respect for persons. Why, according to Kant, should we respect other persons?


Kantian duty ethics15
Kantian Duty Ethics being Blameworthy, Acceptable and Praiseworthy.

  • What is the relationship between the Kantian notions of autonomy, good will, duty, and self-legislation?

  • Kant claims respects is due to all persons in virtue of their rational capacities. Why is this?

  • What does respect have to do with a person’s capacity to make rational choices?


Kantian duty ethics16
Kantian Duty Ethics being Blameworthy, Acceptable and Praiseworthy.

  • I am a self-sacrificing woman. I please my spouse, support his cause, deny myself some of my needs in order to promote his career. I have deferred my career for his, and I am regularly the one who makes the sacrifices for the family.

  • Does this policy pass Kant’s CI test? How or how not?


Kantian duty ethics17
Kantian Duty Ethics being Blameworthy, Acceptable and Praiseworthy.

  • How does Kant’s categorical imperative differ from the Golden Rule (“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”)?


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