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Ethics—The Basics by John Mizzoni. CHAPTER SIX: DEONTOLOGICAL ETHICS. Ethics—The Basics DEONTOLOGICAL ETHICS. Is it wrong to send e-mails to people requesting them to use their bank accounts so you can access those accounts under false pretenses?

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Ethics—The Basicsby John Mizzoni

CHAPTER SIX:

DEONTOLOGICAL ETHICS


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Ethics—The BasicsDEONTOLOGICAL ETHICS

  • Is it wrong to send e-mails to people requesting them to use their bank accounts so you can access those accounts under false pretenses?

  • Is it wrong to defraud others in order to enrich oneself?


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Ethics—The Basics DEONTOLOGICAL ETHICS

  • In the Chinese philosophy of Confucius

    (K’ung fu-tzu), it is clear that acting

    ethically out of motivation for

    righteousness is better than being

    motivated by benefit (good

    consequences).

  • Therefore, Confucius was an early non-consequentialist. (551-479 BCE)


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Ethics—The Basics DEONTOLOGICAL ETHICS

  • Indian philosophy, in the Bhagavad Gita,

    is very clear on the importance

    Of following one’s duty. Krishna,

    a Hindu god, tells the warrior

    Arjuna that it is his duty to fight,

    and that he should not concern himself with consequences.

  • This is clearly deontological ethics.


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Ethics—The Basics DEONTOLOGICAL ETHICS

  • Greek philosophy does not have much to say about deontological ethics, even though the word is derived from the Greek word, deon, meaning duty. Plato suggests a duty to be just (Republic)(VE?), and a duty to obey laws (Crito) (SCE?).

  • The concept of acting out of duty, goes back at least to the ancient Hebrews and relates to Divine Command Theory.


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Ethics—The Basics DEONTOLOGICAL ETHICS

  • Divine Command Theory is the idea that we have a duty to obey God, and therefore a duty to do or not do whatever God has commanded us to do or not do.

  • Divine Command Theory is a moral theory, and moral theology, but, strictly speaking, it is not normative moral philosophy.

    WHY NOT?


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Ethics—The Basics DEONTOLOGICAL ETHICS

  • Divine Command Theory is not normative moral philosophy, if philosophy is defined as the systematic inquiry into the nature of things (such as norms), based on logical reasoning or rationality.

  • Following commands does not require reason.

  • Divine Command Theory has been variously categorized as moral prescriptivism, as moral theology, and as deontological ethics.


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Ethics—The Basics DEONTOLOGICAL ETHICS

  • Deontological ethics is a tradition that, like natural law ethics, is non-consequentialist.

  • It was most importantly expressed by Immanuel Kant.

    WHO IS IMMANUEL KANT?

Non-consequentialist ethics

Deonto-logical ethics

Natural law ethics


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Ethics—The Basics DEONTOLOGICAL ETHICS

  • Immanuel Kant was an 18th century German scholar, university professor, scientist, and philosopher.

  • Kant proposed a view of morality

    that was based on duty.

    (1724-1804)

  • Kant is regarded as the author of deontological ethics.


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Ethics—The Basics DEONTOLOGICAL ETHICS

  • Pietism was a form of Lutheran Christianity that stressed religious devotion, humility, and a literal interpretation of the Bible.

  • Although Kant was himself a Pietist, he tried to develop his philosophy (and ethics) without any reference to religion.

  • Kant may have been influenced by Pietism in his view of man and his view of the world, but he never refers to his religious background in his philosophical writings.


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    Ethics—The Basics DEONTOLOGICAL ETHICS

    DUTY

    A duty is something one is required to do. It is an obligation, a responsibility.

    We may have a variety of duties to others:

    • employers and employees

    • parents and children

    • citizens and government officials

    • God (?)

      WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR DUTIES?


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    Ethics—The Basics DEONTOLOGICAL ETHICS

    DUTY

    Duties may be of different kinds:

    • positive and negative duties

    • duties to self and duties to others

    • direct duties and indirect duties

      WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR DUTIES?


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    Ethics—The Basics DEONTOLOGICAL ETHICS

    POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE DUTIES


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    Ethics—The Basics DEONTOLOGICAL ETHICS

    DUTIES TO SELF AND DUTIES TO OTHERS


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    Ethics—The Basics DEONTOLOGICAL ETHICS

    DIRECT DUTIES AND INDIRECT DUTIES


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    Ethics—The Basics DEONTOLOGICAL ETHICS

    What are my duties, according to reason?

    • A duty to preserve reason.

    • A duty to preserve truth.

      This duty is necessary to preserve reason.

    • A duty to preserve life.

      This duty is necessary to preserve my reason.

    • A duty to preserve freedom.

      This duty is necessary to preserve reason and the inquiry after truth.


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    Ethics—The Basics DEONTOLOGICAL ETHICS

    IMPERATIVES

    An imperativeis acommandto act. It isprescriptive.

    There are two kinds of imperatives: 1. HYPOTHETICALimperatives

    2. CATEGORICAL imperatives

    SO, WHAT IS A HYPOTHETICAL IMPERATIVE?


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    Ethics—The Basics DEONTOLOGICAL ETHICS

    HYPOTHETICAL IMPERATIVES

    • Are commands that are not absolute, but conditional, and premised on one’s desires.

    • The form of a hypothetical imperative is:

      “If you want Y, you ought to X.”

      (Y = goal/consequence/end; X = means)

    • An example of a hypothetical imperative is: “If you want to pass this test, you ought to study.”


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    Ethics—The Basics DEONTOLOGICAL ETHICS

    CATEGORICAL IMPERATIVES

    • Are absolute and unconditional moral commands.

    • The form of a categorical imperative is:

      “You ought to X.”

      (X = END-IN-ITSELF, without regards to MEANS or other ENDS)

    • An example of a categorical imperative is: “You ought to study [because you are a student].”


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    Ethics—The Basics DEONTOLOGICAL ETHICS

    Kant thought that moral judgments were categorical imperatives, or applications of one ultimate categorical imperative.

    SO, WHAT IS THIS ONE CATEGORICAL IMPERATIVE?


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    Ethics—The Basics DEONTOLOGICAL ETHICS

    THE CATEGORICAL IMPERATIVE (1)

    (The Principle of Autonomy)

    “Act in regard to all persons in ways that treat them as ends in themselves and never simply as means to accomplish the ends of others.”

    THIS IS THE BASIS FOR THE ETHICS OF RESPECT AND A BASIS FOR THE ETHICS OF RIGHTS


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    Ethics—The Basics DEONTOLOGICAL ETHICS

    THE CATEGORICAL IMPERATIVE (2)

    (The Principle of Universality)

    “Act only from those personal rules that you can at the same time will to be universal moral laws.”

    THIS IS A BASIS FOR THE ETHICS OF RIGHTS

    WHAT ABOUT RIGHTS …AND DUTIES?


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    Ethics—The Basics DEONTOLOGICAL ETHICS

    RIGHTS AND DUTIES

    If we act on the assumption that we have rights because of the principle of autonomy/respect, we must act on the assumption that others have rights as well, because of the principle of universality.


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    Ethics—The Basics DEONTOLOGICAL ETHICS

    RIGHTS AND DUTIES

    If we have a duty to protect our rights, we have a duty to protect the rights of others as well.


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    Ethics—The Basics DEONTOLOGICAL ETHICS

    RIGHTS AND DUTIES

    Rights correlate with duties.

    • If I have a right, others have the duties to respect that right.

    • If I have a right by virtue of my autonomy, then others have rights as well, and I have a duty to respect those rights.


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    Ethics—The Basics DEONTOLOGICAL ETHICS

    RIGHTS AND DUTIES

    While all rights correlate with duties,

    not all duties correlate with rights.

    Duties

    Rights


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    Ethics—The Basics DEONTOLOGICAL ETHICS

    RIGHTS AND DUTIES

    • A legitimate right is a claim that can limit the freedom of others.

    • Some duties are determined by special roles that we have, and so do not directly correlate with others’ rights.


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    Ethics—The Basics DEONTOLOGICAL ETHICS

    Is Deontological Ethics Relativist or Universalist?

    It is obvious that Kantian deontological ethics rejects ethical relativism, since one of Kant’s formulations of the categorical imperative is the Principle of Universality. We all have duties, just because of our common humanity.


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    Ethics—The Basics DEONTOLOGICAL ETHICS

    What Is the Origin of Ethics, According to Deontological Ethics (DE)?

    Deontological ethicists might view ethical standards as originating in God’s commands.

    However, Kant tried to base the origin of all his philosophical thinking, including his ethics, on the individual freedom of rational human beings, without referring to God.


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    Ethics—The Basics DEONTOLOGICAL ETHICS

    What is human nature, according to DE?

    Kant’s answer to the problem of human nature is not that human beings are made in God’s image and likeness, but that human beings have rationality, and that through this rationality they have freedom. Freedom to choose is the basis of morality.

    Kant therefore disagrees with Hume’s Theory of Moral Sentiments, and with utilitarianism.


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    Ethics—The Basics DEONTOLOGICAL ETHICS

    What is human nature, according to DE?

    According to Kant, people have duties because they have been commanded by reason—not the reason of others, but their own human reason.

    HOW DO WE KNOW THESE DUTIES?


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    Ethics—The Basics DEONTOLOGICAL ETHICS

    Kant did not regard animals with the same ethical regard as the Utilitarians did. Experiments with dogs


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    Ethics—The Basics DEONTOLOGICAL ETHICS

    Some Applications of Deontological Ethics:

    Kantian ethics holds that animals exist for the sake of man because they are not autonomous, or rational. He holds that we do not have any direct ethical obligations toward animals, but may use them as a means to our end (e.g., for food).


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    Ethics—The Basics DEONTOLOGICAL ETHICS

    Some Applications of Deontological Ethics:

    However, Kant did write that we may have indirect duties toward animals. In his thinking, we ought to be kind to animals out of respect for humanity. For Kant, non-human animals had no rights.


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    Ethics—The Basics DEONTOLOGICAL ETHICS

    Some modern deontological

    ethicists such as Tom Regan

    argue that we must consider

    the rights of nonhuman animals.

    He argues that we should define

    autonomy in terms of the ability (1938-present )

    to initiate action to satisfy preferences. This

    definition includes some animals as well as

    humans.


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    Ethics—The Basics DEONTOLOGICAL ETHICS

    Some Applications of Deontological Ethics:

    In the matter of suicide, according to Kant, we all have a negative duty not to commit suicide, because such an act contradicts the concept of human rationality and freedom (autonomy). It is choosing not to choose, not to live.


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    Ethics—The Basics DEONTOLOGICAL ETHICS

    Some Applications of Deontological Ethics:

    In the matter of punishment, Kant despised the Utilitarians who said that punishment should be rehabilitative. He believed that rehabilitation was using people as a means to an end, because we are trying to mold people into what we think they should be.


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    Ethics—The Basics DEONTOLOGICAL ETHICS

    Some Applications of Deontological Ethics:

    Kant was a retributivist. He believed that the punishment should fit the crime. He thought that people who committed crimes had ceded their rationality, and were therefore less than human, and could so be treated.


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    Ethics—The Basics DEONTOLOGICAL ETHICS

    Some Applications of Deontological Ethics:

    Kant supported capital punishment for capital crimes.

    • Rational beings who freely choose their conduct are responsible for their actions.

    • We are treating them in accordance with their own application of the Categorical Imperative. “His own evil deed draws the punishment on himself.”


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    Ethics—The Basics DEONTOLOGICAL ETHICS

    Reflections on the Lex Talionis:

    • “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” (Ex 21:23-27, NAB) (Code of Hammurabi).

    • Prescription or Restriction?

      At least this much, or no more than this much?

    • Retribution or Reciprocity?

      Should I punish you, or simply do to you what you did to another, so you can learn the consequences?

    • Judaism, Christianity, Islam…


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    Ethics—The Basics DEONTOLOGICAL ETHICS

    More reflections on theLex Talionis:

    “An eye for an eye [the law of retaliation] only succeeds in making the whole world blind” (attributed to Gandhi).

    “The old law of an eye for an eye leaves everyone blind. It is immoral because it seeks to humiliate the opponent rather than win his understanding...“ (Coretta Scott King, The Words of Martin Luther King, Jr., p.73).


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    Ethics—The Basics DEONTOLOGICAL ETHICS

    Advantages of Deontological Ethics:

    While divine command theory and natural law ethics are “top-down”, Kantian ethics is “bottom-up”. Like social contract ethics, it has its origin in human beings, in their autonomy, their freedom and reason.


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    Ethics—The Basics DEONTOLOGICAL ETHICS

    Disadvantages of Deontological Ethics:

    One important argument against Kant’s absolute moral rules has to do with the possibility of resolving cases of moral conflict.

    E.g., the “Case of the Inquiring Murderer” presents a conflict between the duty to preserve life and the duty to preserve truth.


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    Ethics—The Basics DEONTOLOGICAL ETHICS

    Disadvantages of Deontological Ethics :

    Another important argument against Kant’s absolute moral rules has to do with the difficulty of doing one’s duty.

    Doing one’s duty could result in the loss of one’s happiness, property, and the lives of one’s loved ones, as well as one’s own life.


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    Ethics—The Basics DEONTOLOGICAL ETHICS

    Other Disadvantages of DE:

    Kantian ethics is “over-intellectuallized.”

    Kantian ethics ignores feelings in favor of reason.

    Kantian ethics is overly masculine in its orientation.

    What about schizophrenics, and persons in comas, or with low cognitive ability?


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    Ethics—The Basics DEONTOLOGICAL ETHICS

    The Advantages and Disadvantages of Deontological Ethics :

    CAN YOU THINK OF ANY MORE EXAMPLES?


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    Ethics—The Basics DEONTOLOGICAL ETHICS

    Deontological Ethics in Biblical Times

    “On the way of duty I walk, along the paths of justice” (Proverbs 8:20, NAB)

    “When you have done all you have been commanded, say, “We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do.” (Luke 17:10, NAB).


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    Ethics—The Basics DEONTOLOGICAL ETHICS

    Deontological Ethics in American History

    “While we are zealously performing the duties of good citizens and soldiers, we certainly ought not to be inattentive to the higher duties of religion” (George Washington).

    “...every man is under the natural duty of contributing to the necessities of the society” (Thomas Jefferson).


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    Ethics—The Basics DEONTOLOGICAL ETHICS

    Deontological Ethics in American History

    “Let us have faith that right makes might; and in that faith let us, to the end, dare to do our duty as we understand it” (Abraham Lincoln).

    “Duty is the sublimest word in our language. Do your duty in all things. You cannot do more. You should never wish to do less” (General Robert E. Lee).


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    Ethics—The Basics DEONTOLOGICAL ETHICS

    Deontological Ethics in American History

    “Duty is ours; consequences are God’s” (attributed to General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, earlier used (1856) by abolitionist John Jay).

    “We have the duty to protect the life of the unborn child” (Ronald Reagan).


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    Ethics—The Basics DEONTOLOGICAL ETHICS

    Deontological Ethics in Popular Culture:

    • Captain “Lucky Jack” Aubrey, in the movie Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, tells the ship’s Irish surgeon, “I will grind whatever grist [grain] the mill requires in order to fulfill my duty…whatever the cost.”


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    Ethics—The Basics DEONTOLOGICAL ETHICS

    Deontological Ethics in Popular Culture:

    • In Star Trek: Insurrection, Captain Picard argues with Admiral Dougherty that some actions are wrong, regardless of the numbers involved: “How many people does it take, Admiral, before it becomes wrong? A thousand? Fifty thousand? A million? How many people does it take, Admiral?”

    • In Star Trek: The Next Generation, there are several episodes that deal with duty. For example, “The first duty… is to the truth.”


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