Do Your Duty

Wed, Feb 17

Immanuel Kant is famous for believing that rationality is the basis for morality -- the most important focus of ethical decision-making is respecting the freedom and dignity of rational beings. He also gives us a theory of inviolable moral imperatives -- rules you must follow, no matter what, to do what is right. Today we will discuss whether we have inviolable moral duties and the importance of freedom and rational choice in living the good life.

By the end of class, you will:

  1. Understand Kant's ethical view and how it differs from utilitarianism
  2. Evaluate the "categorical imperative" both as a moral rule and as the source of moral obligations, and consider whether you have inviolable duties       
  3. Appreciate the importance of the "good will" and "acting from duty" on Kant's ethical view.

Read This:

PHILOSOPHICAL TEXT:

Interactive Essay: Act from Duty (Kant) 

APPLICATION TEXT:

The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas (Short Story by Ursala K. Le Guin)

Do This:

Complete these steps before you come to class

  • Consider the following prompts (you may want to write responses to these in your journal or talk about them with a friend):
    • Would you walk away from Omelas? Should you? Why or why not?
    • One thing that makes Kant unique is his insistence that there are some things that are absolutely morally prohibited, regardless of consequences. Do you tend to think that this is true, or do you think that any action -- even those normally considered immoral -- can be acceptable if the consequences are serious enough?

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