Emily Best: Here are the reading notes over Birsch Chap. 5:

Kantian Ethical Theory

Immanuel Kant (1724-1804):
-says that there are moral laws that exist which apply to all persons.
-most influential deontologist
-believed persons had a duty to obey the moral law; "Kantian ethics" centered around acting from respect for the moral law

Kantian Ethics
-relation between rules and actions: For any action, we can identify a personal rule that guides the action
-Kantian insight: there are moral laws, and these laws apply to all persons
-all persons are moral equals
-moral laws are universal (must be followed without exceptions; place obligation on everyone regardless of their desires)
-key ideas: moral equality and ethical consistency

Rational beings:a person who is abe to deliberate, follow rules, make decisions, and support those decisions with reasons
Must be able to:
-understand idea of moral law
-decide how to act based on reasoning about personal rules of action and moral laws
-act from respect for the moral law

Categorical Imperative: The ethical standard of Kantian ethics
-determines the legitimate rules or more specific moral laws that should guide action
-Two formulations:
1. Act only from those personal rules that you can at the same time will to be moral
2. Act in regard to all persons in ways that treat them as ends in themselves and never simply as means to accomplish the ends of others

Which rules are moral laws?
-appeal to: 1. consistency, 2. universalizabliliy, and 3. moral equality
1. must determine the personal rule on which they propose to act
2. only act from rules that are internally consistent
3. only follow rules that are universal
4. only act from rules that treat people as moral equals
5. never act from rules that treat people merely as means to accomplish the ends of others
-legitimacy of moral laws is not connected to consequences

Examples of moral laws:
-People should keep their promises
-It is unethical to enslave people

Justifications/Strengths of Kantian ethics:
1. Kantian ethical theory makes ethics rational (provides reasons to support moral rules and allows us to reach agreements with other people over moral problems)
2. Asserts that people are all moral equals (prevents predjudice like racism or sexism)
3. Allows for the universalizability of moral guidelines and judgements (provides a justification for taking firm nd confident positions on various moral issues)

Basic Ethical Themes:
1. Good and bad are objective; not connected to emotions or attitudes of specific individuals (moral law is baed on reason and has nothing to do with emotion)
2. Rightness or wrongness of something depends on the reasoning that guided it
3. Follow the rules that could be willed to be moral laws, with no exceptions
4. Focus should be the individual, or rational being (if individuals use reason correctly, everyone will arrive at same set of legitimate rules of action)

Kantian Ethics vs. Ethical Egoism:
-both assume ethics is rational
-both agree good and bad are objective
-both say focus of ethics should be on the individual

-Kantian ethics accepts impartiality, moral equality, and universalizablility; while ethical egoism accepts none
-Determination of good and bad: Egoism= consequences to individual, Kantian= reasoning that precedes action
-Kantians connect good and bad to following general rules without exceptions; while Egoists evaluate actions on case-by-case basis

3 Problems with Kantian Ethics:
1. Question about the correct description of an action (must decde on rule to guide the action, so if it is unclear it will cause problems)
2. Could have conflicting moral laws
3. It allows no exceptions to moral laws

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