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Are my notes on Kant's Ethical theory actually correct?

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    Absolutist Deontological ethical theory. That believes Humans should act out of duty and good will alone.
    Kant was an empiricist and came to these conclusions through careful observation of his surroundings. He believed that in Moral decision making humans should act through the categorical imperative rather than the hypothetical imperative, because the categorical imperative concludes with a simple Yes, this action is moral or no it is not. Meaning his theory is deontological because it is concerned with creating maxims rather than considering consequences of actions.
    The Categorical imperative has 3 primary formulations:
    The first of these is that an any maxim created/followed must be able to be generalised to the whole world, for all of time and should not be self-contradictorily and contradict nature. According to Kant, anyone can set a maxim and all people should behave as ‘Law makers in the Kingdom of Ends’ as they are responsible for their own actions as they are their own moral agents.
    The Second formulation of the categorical imperative is ‘Ends not means’. Kant proposes that all Humans in moral decision making should act autonomously, without any influence from anyone else or anything else such as the causal relationship. For example if an acceptable maxim was ‘You must press ALL buttons you see’ and someone else told you the button you must press was a button to send missiles to a country, you must press that button because that is what the maxim says to do, do not consider the consequences.
    The third formulation is the preservation of human dignity, as this allows us to do out duty. We must not do anything that causes someone else to lose their dignity, and cannot make maxims that allow this.
    If one does their duty, acting out of their free will without influence (autonomously) they will reach the SB (the ultimate good).
    Key quotes:
    ‘Two things fill the mind with ever-increasing wonder and awe, the more often and the more intensely the mind of thought is drawn to them: the starry heavens above me and the moral law within me’.


    I feel as if I've missed something.
    It's for OCR AS religious studies (G572?)
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    I'm not doing OCR but we look at Kant's deontology also...

    Just a suggestion, I would check out the principle of universability.

    Kant found the categorical imperative in his principle of universability (formulated in 'Formula of the Law of Nature') which demands that human beings 'act in such a way that their actions might become universal law.'
    Kant thought that if the rule/ maxim governing man's actions cannot be universalised then it is not morally acceptable and that if you cannot will everyone to follow the same rule, then it is not a moral rule (there are many problems with this of course, for example, 'all men should wear blue on thursdays' could be unievrsalised but this does not make it a moral command)...

    And the 'ends not means' you make reference to was formulated in his 'Formula of the End in Itself' I think, his belief that an act must ensure that human beings are valued as ends in themselves rather than a means to an end and recognising mankind's intrinsic, rather than potential instrumental value.

    Just drop me a message if you need anymore (:
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    (Original post by imogenp)
    I'm not doing OCR but we look at Kant's deontology also...

    Just a suggestion, I would check out the principle of universability.

    Kant found the categorical imperative in his principle of universability (formulated in 'Formula of the Law of Nature') which demands that human beings 'act in such a way that their actions might become universal law.'
    Kant thought that if the rule/ maxim governing man's actions cannot be universalised then it is not morally acceptable and that if you cannot will everyone to follow the same rule, then it is not a moral rule (there are many problems with this of course, for example, 'all men should wear blue on thursdays' could be unievrsalised but this does not make it a moral command)...

    And the 'ends not means' you make reference to was formulated in his 'Formula of the End in Itself' I think, his belief that an act must ensure that human beings are valued as ends in themselves rather than a means to an end and recognising mankind's intrinsic, rather than potential instrumental value.

    Just drop me a message if you need anymore (:
    Oh okay Thank You.
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    (Original post by Samc12)
    Oh okay Thank You.

    No problem
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    (Original post by Samc12)
    He believed that in Moral decision making humans should act through the categorical imperative rather than the hypothetical imperative, because the categorical imperative concludes with a simple Yes, this action is moral or no it is not. Meaning his theory is deontological because it is concerned with creating maxims rather than considering consequences of actions.
    (G572?)
    Also doing OCR RS Philosophy of Religion and Religious Ethics.

    I think you may be a little confused with the distinction between Hypothetical and Categorical imperatives via Kant. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought that Kant viewed the Hypothetical imperatives as things non-moral/related to the self - such as "I must lose weight". He thought that it was good to adhere to the Hypothetical imperative as part of ones duty but ought not to be universalised. He devised his deontological theory as he believed other relativistic ethical systems could never supersede the Hypothetical imperative due to their structure.

    As I said, this may not be correct, and I'm off to check whether or not it is. But from my current knowledge of the Categorical imperative I'm fairly certain.
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    I've never heard anyone say Kant was an empiricist as such. His work in epistemology etc. points completely towards rationalism, and much of his proof for objective morality is done a priori.

    Further, you confuse Formulation (3) in (1). Kingdom of legislatures is (3). It should be noted that Kant and many others see the three formulations as essentially the same thing, just differently formulated.

    We follow the categorical imperative because we're led there by pure reason, and every moral being is capable of reaching this. I'd also say you'd do well to explain why we have to be free (potential point of argument). If you've been taught it (or if you haven't, find it yourself) a point not many A level students seem to go into is the problems of Contradictions in Will and in conception - intricate but shows higher understanding than most. Lastly, if you have a solid grasp on Kant you could research the three postulates of the Categorical Imperative (Immortal Soul, God, Freedom).
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    I found this quite helpful:

    Kant holds that the fundamental principle of our moral duties is a categorical imperative. It is an imperative because it is a command (e.g., “Leave the gun. Take the cannoli.”) More precisely, it commands us to exercise our wills in a particular way, not to perform some action or other. It is categorical in virtue of applying to us unconditionally, or simply because we possesses rational wills, without reference to any ends that we might or might not have. It does not, in other words, apply to us on the condition that we have antecedently adopted some goal for ourselves. Of course, other imperatives have a similar non-conditional form. For instance, ‘Answer an invitation in the third person in the third person’ is an imperative of etiquette, and it is not conditional. (Foot, 1972, p. 308) It does not apply to you only on the condition that you have some end that is served by being polite. But this imperative is not categorical in Kant's sense, since it does not apply to us simply because we are rational enough to understand and act on it, or simply because we possess a rational will. Imperatives of etiquette apply to us simply because prevailing customs single us out as appropriate objects of appraisal by standards of politeness, whether we accept those standards or not.

    There are ‘oughts’ other than our moral duties, but these oughts are distinguished from the moral ought in being based on a quite different kind of principle, one that is the source of hypothetical imperatives. A hypothetical imperative is a command that also applies to us in virtue of our having a rational will, but not simply in virtue of this. It requires us to exercise our wills in a certain way given we have antecedently willed an end. A hypothetical imperative is thus a command in a conditional form. But not any command in this form counts as a hypothetical imperative in Kant's sense. For instance, ‘if you're happy and you know it, clap your hands!’ is a conditional command. But the antecedent conditions under which the command ‘clap your hands’ applies to you does not posit any end that you will, but consists rather of emotional and cognitive states you may or may not be in. Further, ‘if you want pastrami, try the corner deli’ is also a command in conditional form, but strictly speaking it too fails to be a hypothetical imperative in Kant's sense since this command does not apply to us in virtue of our willing some end, but only in virtue of our desiring or wanting an end. For Kant, willing an end involves more than desiring or wanting it; it requires the exercise of practical reason and focusing oneself on the pursuit of that end. Further, there is nothing irrational in failing to will means to what one desires. An imperative that applied to us in virtue of our desiring some end would thus not be a hypothetical imperative of practical rationality in Kant's sense.

    The condition under which a hypothetical imperative applies to us, then, is that we will some end. Now for the most part, the ends we will we might not have willed, and some ends that we do not will we might nevertheless have willed. But there is at least conceptual room for the idea of an end that we must will. The distinction between ends that we might or might not will and those, if any, we must will, is the basis for his distinction between two kinds of hypothetical imperatives. Kant names these “problematic” and “assertoric”, based on how the end is willed. If the end is one that we might or might not will — that is, it is a merely possible end — the imperative is problematic. For instance, “Don't ever take side with anyone against the Family again.” is a problematic imperative, even if the end posited here is (apparently) one's own continued existence. Almost all non-moral, rational imperatives are problematic, since there are virtually no ends that we must will.

    As it turns out, the only (non-moral) end that we must will in Kant's view (by ‘natural necessity’ he says) is our own happiness. Any imperative that applied to us because we will our own happiness would thus be an assertoric imperative. As it turns out, however, rationality can issue no imperative if the end is indeterminate, and happiness is an indeterminate end. Although we can say for the most part that if one is to be happy, one should save for the future, take care of one's health and nourish one's relationships, these fail to be genuine commands. Some people are happy without these, and whether you could be happy without them is, although doubtful, an open question.

    Since Kant presents moral and prudential rational requirements as first and foremost demands on our wills rather than on external acts, moral and prudential evaluation is first and foremost an evaluation of the will our actions express, applying to the actions themselves only derivatively. Thus, it is not an error of rationality to fail to take the necessary means to one's (willed) ends, nor to fail to want to take the means; one only falls foul of practical reason if one fails to will the means. Likewise, while actions, feelings or desires may be the focus of other moral views, for Kant practical irrationality, both moral and prudential, focuses on our willing.

    Kant describes the will as operating on the basis of subjective volitional principles he calls ‘maxims’. Hence, morality and other rational requirements are demands that apply to the maxims that motivate our actions. The form of a maxim is ‘I will A in C in order to realize or produce E’ where ‘A’ is some act type, ‘C’ is some type of circumstance, and ‘E’ is some type of end to be realized or achieved by A in C. Since this is a principle stating only what some agent wills, it is subjective. (A principle for any rational will would be an objective principle of volition, which Kant refers to as a practical law.) For anything to count as human willing, it must be based on a maxim to pursue some end through some means. Hence, in employing a maxim, any human willing already embodies the form of means-end reasoning that calls for evaluation in terms of hypothetical imperatives. To that extent at least, then, anything dignified as human willing must be rational.
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    (Original post by opiumette)
    Also doing OCR RS Philosophy of Religion and Religious Ethics.

    I think you may be a little confused with the distinction between Hypothetical and Categorical imperatives via Kant. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought that Kant viewed the Hypothetical imperatives as things non-moral/related to the self - such as "I must lose weight". He thought that it was good to adhere to the Hypothetical imperative as part of ones duty but ought not to be universalised. He devised his deontological theory as he believed other relativistic ethical systems could never supersede the Hypothetical imperative due to their structure.

    As I said, this may not be correct, and I'm off to check whether or not it is. But from my current knowledge of the Categorical imperative I'm fairly certain.
    Well I don't know tbh. But I always describe the categorical imperative as any decision made considering consequence rather than Outcome. As Kant is concerned with acting autonomously and universalizing maxims, it is impossible for one to universalize a maxim concerning just themselves because it wouldn't work.
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    (Original post by Samc12)
    Well I don't know tbh. But I always describe the categorical imperative as any decision made considering consequence rather than Outcome. As Kant is concerned with acting autonomously and universalizing maxims, it is impossible for one to universalize a maxim concerning just themselves because it wouldn't work.
    Intention rather than outcome*

    You're describing a contradiction of the will, as you couldn't universalise everyone acting selfishly as essentially you have to put yourself in the shoes of everyone else, and if you willed yourself to be selfish - they would also, and in your time of need they wouldn't help you (as you wouldn't have helped them) Kant thinks that we cannot will this.
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    (Original post by Samc12)
    Well I don't know tbh. But I always describe the categorical imperative as any decision made considering consequence rather than Outcome. As Kant is concerned with acting autonomously and universalizing maxims, it is impossible for one to universalize a maxim concerning just themselves because it wouldn't work.
    Yes, as I stated, non-moral oughts are Hypothetical and apply only to the self and development of the self. To reiterate, these apply only to the individual concerned and ought to be followed as part of ones duty but do not have to be universalised or logical for all to follow.

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