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Chris Acton October, 2001 Kantian ethics. Immanual Kant Immanual Kant was born in 1724 and lived until the age of 80. He was the son of a saddler, and he was born in Knigsberg in East Prussia. After leaving the university he spent a number of years in private tutoring, but taking his master's degree in 1755, he settled to teach a variety of subjects as Privatdozent. In 1770 he was appointed to the chair of logic and metaphysics at Kningsberg. It was after this that he entered on his greatest, "critical" period. He never left Kningsberg, and he never married. His aim was to make morality a fact like science from a deontological point of view. He says that acting from a sense of duty is good, and acting on that duty is absolutely good. He says that having a good will is more important than the consequences of the act so doing ones duty is always moral because it is a good will. Kant says one should do their duty for no reason other than it being their duty. I think he says this because if you are doing your duty, which is moral, therefore, a good thing, it can't be morally wrong?
Categorical imperatives are the product of reason and you ought to do such and such, regardless of what you want. It is an absolute duty that ignores our emotions. To illustrate this imperative you could imagine a person needing to borrow money, and promising to repay it even though they know they cant. The maxim for this would be: "Whenever you need money borrow it and promise to repay it even though you know you cant." This rule couldn't be universalized because if it was, people wouldn't believe anyone and nobody would ever lend money, even to people who may repay the money. Kant says this rule doesn't work because of the bad consequences but instead he simply says it doesn't work. Lying is an ethical dilemma because sometimes it may bring out more good for a greater number of people than if the lie was not told. He says that lying is always wrong because it couldn't be universalized. There would be no trust between anyone and if a lie is to be successful then it must be believed to be true, so if there was a universal law it would never work anyway.
Kant ignores the fact we have emotions and this is obvious because he thinks all human life is equal. I don't know how he can say that he would save the person closest to him no matter who the people were. He thinks we are almost robots. He also says that consequences do not matter but the act of a rational person is based upon the consequences that the act produces. So how can he ignore consequences and have a totally duty based theory. He contradicts himself. For example if a CRAZY gunman wants some friends of mine and they are hiding in my cellar, what do I do if the gunman knocks on my door? Do I tell the truth like a rational person and let them die or do I tell a lie to save lives? Well, Kant says that if I tell a lie, no matter what the consequences are, I am not rationale. So telling the truth and letting them die is the rational thing to do. Kant wants the world to be perfect and wants everyone to follow his theory, and in an imperfect world, his theory sound unconvincing when we look at some dilemmas. His theory is great but not in practice. ?? ?? ?? ?? Chris Acton Kant essay 20/04/07 2
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