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Explain the distinguishing features of a deontological ethical theory.

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Introduction

Explain the distinguishing features of a deontological ethical theory. Deontological theories are those that believe that an action is not determined right or wrong by the consequences butg by something else. Immanuel Kant is the key instigator in deontological ethics. Kant's aim was to establish 'a completely isolated metaphysic of morals which is not mixed with any theology or physics or metaphysics. To understand Kant's theory we must first distinguish between two kinds of statements; analytic statements and synthetic statements. Analytic statements are necessarily true. They are a priori arguments that includes the predicate within the subject. For example, all bachelors are male is analytic as the meaning of the subject (bachelor) includes the predicate (male). Synthetic statements do not include the predicate within the subject and are based on experience hence they are a posteriori. For example, by saying all bachelors are happy is not necessarily true, it depends upon the experience of the bachelors that make them happy or not. ...read more.

Middle

Kant says that the only thing that does not need proving is good will. Good will wills good to occur and therefore the motive is good. Good will can occur by humans using reason to make moral decisions, as reason is the measure of all moral conduct. To achieve the 'summon bomum' (the highest from of good) we must assume that human beings are free, because without freedom we cannot make a decision between right and wrong. If we are not free than we are not moral agents. Kant distinguishes between two imperatives or commands under which human beings act: * Hypothetical Imperatives are moral judgements based on 'if.' We make moral judgments as a means to an end that involves rational thinking. For example 'if you want good grades, you must revise,' we can reject the command (revise) if we are willing to reject the 'if ' on which the command rests. ...read more.

Conclusion

Although there is only one categorical imperative, Kant argued that this principle can be formulated in three different ways: 1. The Formula of the Law of Nature: Act as if the maxim of your action were become through your will a universal law of nature. 2. The Formula of the End Itself: Act in such a way that you always treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, never simply as a means, but always at the same time as an end. 3. The Formula of the Kingdom of Ends: So act as if you were through your maxims a law-making member of a kingdom of ends. Kant thought that each of these three formulations would produce the same conclusion regarding the morality of any particular action, with no exceptions. Therefore, each of these four ways gives a step-by-step plan in order to determine whether an action is right or wrong. ?? ?? ?? ?? Michael Swift U6E ...read more.

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