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Clarify the key features of a deontological theory of ethics - To what extent if any, do the weaknesses outweigh the strengths of this theory?

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Introduction

Clarify the Key Features of a Deontological Theory of Ethics. To what Extent if any, do the Weaknesses Outweigh the Strengths of this Theory? Claudia Bicen Kant's (1724-1804) Moral Law is a deontological theory of ethics based around the concept of duty and reason. Kant highlights the importance man's rational capacity and ability to think logically and separately from his own circumstances or preferences that distinguishes him from other creatures. This idea is expressed in Kant's greatest works, the Critique of Pure Reason (1781) and the Critique of Practical Reason (1788). Kant maintains that reason binds man to man since reason is an innate intellectual power which exists more or less equally in all men. Thus, such reason enables the individual to resolve his own problems in a way possibly acceptable to everyone. Kant argues that by using reason, one can find the answers to moral dilemmas that are right for everyone. Furthermore, Kant's moral Law is independent of God, i.e. a secular ethic. Kant defines the following words; 'analytic' as a statement where the predicate is included in the subject, thus necessarily true; 'a priori' where the truth is known independent of experience; 'synthetic' as a statement where the predicate is not including in the statement and 'a posteriori' where the truth is based on experience. ...read more.

Middle

Thus Kant would see it as immoral to be friends with someone for own rewards and selfishness. The third definition is similar to that of the first. The formula of the kingdom of ends affirms 'so act as if you were through your maxims a law making member of a kingdom of ends'. This last definition refers to self discipline and responsible behaviour because true good some from inside and acting upon it. From these definitions it can be concluded that there is great emphasis on universalisability. Kant maintains that to test if an action is moral it must be able to be applied consistently and logically to the rest of the world. The importance of Kant's moral law has increased rather than weakened with the years because without doubt various features of the theory remain attractive. Most importantly one must note the theory's ability to take good account of justice. It manages to be able to correct the utilitarian viewpoint that punishment of the innocent can be justified due to majority benefit, because the moral worth of an action comes from the intrinsic rightness of an action justice of the individual is safeguarded by the universal and objective character of the categorical imperative which obliges duties upon us all. ...read more.

Conclusion

What Kant appears to overlooks his problem in exclusion of exceptions. In Kant's contradictions in nature he maintains that telling lies and breaking promises are always wrong because they can never be consistently universalised, thus one can never lie or break a promise with no exceptions. However there are examples when such concepts can lead to serious dilemmas when duties conflict. Consider that one promises a friend that they will hide them from a murderer and later the murderer asks where they have hidden the friend. To tell the truth would be to break a promise, but to keep the promise is to lie. Kant's moral law provides us with no answer to such dilemma and therefore the theory is weakened because it fails to help us in every situation. Therefore in conclusion, clearly there are valid strengths and weaknesses of Kant's moral law. However I feel that the strengths outweigh the limitations of this theory. Such idea is clearly reflected in the fact that Kant's theory has become increasingly popular and accepted over the years. This has to show how successful Kant's ideas are even though they have been faced with criticism. However, one can ask themselves if there could be any moral law without weaknesses. ...read more.

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