Module VIII: Kant


Reading: First Section pp. 9-22; 38-49

Kant's reaction to utilitarianism: what did he like? what did he dislike?

Kant's emphasizes the importance of a "good will" or, the necessity of "willpower" to do the right thing

an emphasis on "duty"

an emphasis on our "rationality"

categorical imperative: this is Kant's mechanism for ethical decisions p. 38). 

It consists of two ideas:

1) do everything as if you are passing a law for everyone else to follow

2) treat everyone as an end, not as a means; that is, respect human dignity. (p. 45)

See Kant's four examples (pp. 38-40)

1) a question of suicide

2) a question of debt repayment

3) a question of using one's "natural gifts"

4) a question of generosity

See Kant's answers to these four situations (pp. 46-47).

The practical effect of Kant's philosophy is to deny us the luxury of making exceptions for ourselves. At the very least, Kantianism puts the burden of proof on ourselves to justify why we "give ourselves a break" that is, why we shouldn't make the hard moral choice instead of taking the easy way out. The practical first step in following Kant is to ask, if at all possible, what is the usual right thing to do in a situation like this, and what is the exception?

How do Utilitarianism and Kantianism differ? 
Make a comparison/contrast

Utilitarianism: Teleological
Kantianism: Deontological

“Two things fill the heart with ever new and increasing admiration and awe, the starry skies above, the moral law within.” - Immanuel Kant's epitaph