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Deontological Ethics. Deontological theory —Asserts that the rightness of actions is determined partly or entirely by their intrinsic value Consequentialist theory —Asserts that the rightness of actions depends solely on their consequences. Deontological Ethics. The Moral Law —Immanuel Kant

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Deontological ethics
Deontological Ethics

  • Deontological theory—Asserts that the rightness of actions is determined partly or entirely by their intrinsic value

  • Consequentialist theory—Asserts that the rightness of actions depends solely on their consequences


Deontological ethics1
Deontological Ethics

The Moral Law —Immanuel Kant

  • Nothing can be called good without qualification except a good will.

  • If an action is to have moral worth, it must be done from a sense of duty.

  • Kant’s categorical imperatives are absolutist.


Kant s categorical imperative

Kant’s Categorical Imperative

First Formulation: “Act only on that maxim through which you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law.”


Kant s categorical imperative1

Kant’s Categorical Imperative

First Formulation

Kant thinks that making a lying promise would be wrong because you could not consistently will that everyone should make lying promises.


Kant s categorical imperative2

Kant’s Categorical Imperative

Second Formulation: “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.”


Kant s categorical imperative3

Kant’sCategorical Imperative

Second Formulation

People must never be treated as if they were mere instruments for achieving some further end, for people are ends in themselves.

Kant does not prohibit treating a person as a means but forbids treating a person simply, or merely, as a means.

We treat people merely as a means instead of an end in themselves if we disregard their characteristics of personhood (e.g., if we thwart their freely chosen actions, undermine their rational decision-making, or discount their equality by discriminating against them).


Deontological ethics2

Deontological Ethics

Intuitionism —W.D. Ross

Moral principles have prima facie, or conditional, bindingness.

We can discover true moral principles by consulting our intuitions.


Deontological ethics3

Deontological Ethics

The Deep Beauty of the Golden Rule —R.M. MacIver

A Critique of the Golden Rule —Richard Whately

MacIver argues that the best formula for discovering our moral duty is the Golden Rule.

Whately contends that using the Golden Rule as your sole guide to right and wrong actions would leave you perplexed.


Deontological ethics4

Deontological Ethics

Does Morality Depend on Religion? —Plato

The doctrine that morality depends on religion is called the divine command theory (DCT).

The doctrine forces a dilemma: Are actions right because God commands them, or does God command them because they are right?

The first option implies that morality is completely arbitrary.


James rachels the divine command theory dct
James Rachels: The Divine Command Theory (DCT)

The Big Question

Is an action right (or wrong) because God commands that it be so—or is it right (or wrong) independent of God’s commands

(so that God himself must answer to the moral law)?

Rachels argues that the DCT is false and that neither the theist nor the nontheist should accept it.


Thomas nagel moral luck
Thomas Nagel: Moral Luck

  • Nagel says the Kantian view is simplistic and fails to take into account the way external factors impinge upon us. These factors introduce the idea of moral luck.

  • “Where a significant aspect of what someone does depends on factors beyond his control, yet we continue to treat him in that respect as an object of moral judgment, it can be called moral luck.”


Carl dennis new year s eve
Carl Dennis: “New Year’s Eve”

The good and bad angels

of moral luck.

  • Is it your character that keeps you faultless—or is it luck?

  • Is it the other person’s bad character that brings him to grief—or is it mere misfortune?


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