Kantian ethics provides a helpful method to making moral decisions

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Kantian ethics provides a helpful method to making moral decisions

Kant argued for the use of a normative ethical theory based around the idea that all men have a similar common goal; his theory was absolute (meaning one must follow a common set of rules no matter the scenario) and deontological (focused on actions themselves rather than the outcome of said actions). Kant advised the use of this theory despite it being a priori, meaning he had no observations or experience of the theory in practice.

Kant believed that all men have duties which they ought to fulfil, not to gain a desired outcome or avoid a less desirable outcome, but simply because it is their duty. For example, if we can assume it is always wrong to kill people, it would be considered immoral to kill someone even if that action saved the lives of hundreds of people. Similarly, if you consider a foetus to be ‘alive’ then it would be immoral to terminate it no matter the affect it would have on the mother’s physical or mental health. Nearly everyone would find fault in the former, notably fewer for the latter, yet I would hope that the majority would still disagree. David Gauthier suggested that as morality is an agreed concept, designed so that people cannot run amok doing as they please with no consideration for others, an absolutist theory cannot function as rules are subject to interpretation. Let us briefly consider the foetus example once more, if the rule states that it is immoral to take a life, what should be considered a life? Does life start at conception or at birth, or maybe somewhere in between. For this reason, though an absolute theory should be applied to every situation, the rules do not necessarily mean the same thing for every single person.
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Kant said that in order to create a duty one had to pass it through three tests, the first of which being the law of nature. This law states that in order for something to become a duty it must be capable of being universalised, so everyone must be able to follow said duty ad infinitum. So, for example: ‘jump the queue’ could not become a duty as if everyone jumped the queue there would be no queue to jump. Though this seems sensible, it is possible that immoral acts could be universalised. For example ‘lie to people’ ...

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