Ethics and Kant

Topics: Ethics, Immanuel Kant, Deontological ethics Pages: 3 (976 words) Published: April 16, 2014
Clarify the key features of a deontological theory of ethics. To what extent if any do the weaknesses outweigh the strengths of this theory Deontology literally translates as the science of duty. It is an approach to making decisions in ethics which relies on duties or rules to determine how you should act. Thus it is very different from consequential theories of ethics like Utilitarianism where results matter more than obligations (oughts). One of the most notable examples of a deontological theory of ethics is Kantian Ethics. Kant rejected using results as a good way to guide actions. A notable feature is that, unlike Utilitarianism, he thought empirical evidence was an unreliable guide and that how we experience things came from the mind (a priori). ‘It is impossible to conceive of anything in the world, or even out of it, which can be taken as good without qualification, except good will’. A notable point is that, Kant took an absolute approach to morality and dismissed the idea of choices or consequences to solve a moral dilemma. A significant feature is that, Kant thought that the idea of moral oughts must come from within which he called ‘reason’. Since Kant believed reason is shared by all humans and is inherent in the universe, then logically we should come to the same conclusions about how to live using their reason. Additionally, with our reason, Kant identified that there were ‘prima facia’ duties- duties that are supreme to others. Another key characteristic is that, Kant’s deontology states that we experience a sense of duty/ obligation to others. This he called the categorical imperative; ‘you ought to behave in the categorical imperative because it is the moral law’. It differs from the hypothetical imperative because it exemplifies that we ‘work hard’ simply because we ought not to for personal rewards. The idea of a universal is a valid feature as Kant believes that for rules to be universally binding on all men, they must be unconditionally...
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