EECS 690 by dfhdhdhdhjr


									 EECS 690

January 27, 2010
• Typically, when anyone talks about
  Deontology, they mean to talk about
  Immanuel Kant. Kant is THE deontologist.
• Deontology is an ethical framework that
  holds that what makes an action right or
  wrong is something that is contained in the
  action itself, and not in its consequences.
• Deontology is the study of how to
  determine what our moral duties are.
• Kant regarded human rationality as a very
  important consideration, and for several
  – Rationality is what separates us from the rest of the
    animal world (following Aristotle here)
  – If some action is to be right or wrong, anyone must be
    able to determine which by means of reason (this
    allows morality to apply universally among rational
  – Rationality seems universally accepted as a measure
    of both moral agency and moral subjecthood.
   The Categorical Imperative
• The categorical imperative is Kant’s test to
  see if an action can pass as moral.
• Kant phrased this test in between 3 and 5
  different ways (depending on which Kant
  scholar you ask)
• We will focus on two of these.
 “The Kingdom of Sovereign Ends”
• Since reason is of supreme moral importance, it will be
  immoral to treat rational beings as if they are not rational
• In Kant’s language, “So act that you use humanity,
  whether in your own person or in the person of any
  other, always at the same time as an end, never merely
  as a means”
• In my language, “Don’t treat people like things. Ever.”
• Moral arguments that involve respect and dignity and
  personal autonomy as inviolable moral principles have
  the same intuition as Kant does here.
         The Universal Law
• Kant: “Act only in accordance with that
  maxim through which you can at the same
  time will that it become a universal law”
• One thing that makes this principle work is
  the idea that what is immoral for one
  person should be immoral for all others.
• This principle is easily confused with the
  “golden rule” but they are different.
  Consider the following example:
           Breaking promises
• If you’re considering breaking a promise,
  consider what would happen if it were a
  universal law for everyone to break their
• In such a case, promises don’t exist, so it is
  rationally impossible to will that as a universal
• If an action cannot be willed as a universal law,
  then it is not moral. The idea is, “If it’s not okay
  for everyone else to do it, why should it be okay
  for me?”
   Universality as a component of
• This perspective is inspired by David Hume
• Many components of morality take the form of
  widespread conventions. Promises can only
  exist as the norm, and not an aberration.
• Respect for property, nonviolence, government,
  law and order, etc. are all things that have to be
  the norm to exist at all.
   Similarities to Utilitarianism
• Utilitarianism and Kantianism will come to
  the same verdict in almost all practical
  cases, though the reasoning process is
  very different. (see Johnson case study)
• Both theories are extremely demanding
        Notable differences:
• Utilitarianism is a framework that tell you
  what to do, Deontology is a framework that
  mostly tells you what not to do.
• Deontology will come to a verdict on a
  type of action, Utilitarianism will not.
  (Deontology is inflexible, but consistent)
• Deontology does not consider
  consequences, does not require
         Hybrid approaches
• James Moor, among others proposes that
  Deontology will tell you what actions are
  morally unacceptable, and utilitarianism
  can select the best action from all the
  permissible actions.
• Another approach uses the framework that
  seems to best fit the given situation.

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