Kantian ethics is helpful for moral decision making in every kind of context. Watch

Neverland_girl17
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Hi,
So the above title is my essay question for my homework, however, It's been two weeks since I studied it (and since i broke up from half term) so most of the information is making me confused so if anyone can help me with points it would be really helpful

I do have some strengths and weaknesses written down but i can't really develop these points...
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Evil Homer
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(Original post by Neverland_girl17)
Hi,
So the above title is my essay question for my homework, however, It's been two weeks since I studied it (and since i broke up from half term) so most of the information is making me confused so if anyone can help me with points it would be really helpful

I do have some strengths and weaknesses written down but i can't really develop these points...
Hey

Why don't you jot down quickly the strengths and weaknesses that you have and then we can help you build on them from there?
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Joe312
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What are the strengths and weaknesses you have written down? There should be ways to develop them.
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Neverland_girl17
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Strengths:
applies to everyone
reason-appeals to common sense, morality, the mind thinks
not consequentialist-not using ends to justify the means
logical-clear and easy
humans can reason-rational
ensures people are treated with respect
only have to work it once
not emotion-based
not religious
not based on self interest
motive-good will

weaknesses:
Hume focuses on reason: emotions, desires should come first
not guaranteed to get real world situations (eg. constants enquiring murderer)
Sartre- criticises Kant because Kant's duties conflict-Going to war OR look after elderly mother- Kant wouldn't agree with war
monistic deontological
cold, detached
consequences do matter-morality
freedom
lack of humanity
too abstract
you can universalise anything

As I'm reading these back, the majority of them don't make sense so I apologise for my terrible note taking
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Joe312
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How about putting the strengths and weaknesses against each other. Sure it ensures people will be treated with respect, but at the cost of being cold and detached. Which is more important. Which wins? Same with the consequentialist part, which Constant's inquiring murderer would be relevant to also.

A list of strengths and weaknesses does not tell us whether it is good or bad overall.

You should also consider responses to these strengths and weaknesses to develop them also.

The ultimate thing in developing these points is explaining 'why' something is a strength or a weakness. Look through the list of strengths/weaknesses and ask 'why is that a strength' or 'why is that a weakness'. And then, 'is it really a strength/weakness'.

Here's an example of a development of the emotion/cold/detached point:


For Kant, a Good will is one which has the right attitude morally. We should leave out personal feelings/desires and just do ‘duty for duty’s sake’. Eg if a friend is in hospital, we should go and visit them not out of empathy but because it’s our duty. Kant believed morality could rest on rationality. He argued that to be a human is to be in possession of a ‘rational will’. Since all humans have access to this rationality, a kind of equality and uniformity and absolutism can be generated for ethics. All humans rationally accept that 1+1=2. Kant hoped that by embedding morality in reason and rationality rather than something like God, all humans could come to the same moral views if only they could be led by their rationality.

This is why Kant argued we should be led by our duty be our only motivation.

However if the friend asked us why we were there and we said our duty they might feel offended. This is not an accurate understanding of the nature of human relationships. We need our feelings and desires, it’s what makes us human. We would be suspicious of someone who gave to charity without feeling empathy. If a parent claimed to help their child out of duty rather than love, we would find that disturbing. Therefore having the appropriate emotion regarding an action seems part of our conception of a good moral character but Kant seems unable to recognize this.

Bernard Williams claims it is inhuman to desire moral judgement to be free from emotion and an ethic like Kant’s which recommends it is therefore immoral. For example, giving money to charity because you feel empathy for suffering people seems like a moral act, but Kant would regard it as non-moral.

Kant would back up his theory however by pointing out that those who think it morally good to give money to charity out of empathy are actually committing themselves to the claim that the goodness of the act consists in their feelings of empathy, at least in part. If they asked themselves why it was good to give money to suffering people, however, satisfying the empathetic feelings of the giver would generally not be considered a reason. The deservedness of the receiver of charity is not thought by anyone to depend on the presence of feelings of empathy on the part of the giver. Therefore, those who think it morally good to give to charity out of empathy should recognize, Kant would argue, that the goodness of their act does not depend on their feelings. Acting out of feelings is therefore failing to act morally.

Nonetheless, ultimately, if not wrong, arguably it is at least impractical to expect humans to be able to prevent their emotions from affecting their moral judgements.
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