Do Your Duty

Wed, Sep 26

Regardless of your take on the basis of moral truths -- you still need to make moral decisions.  What do you need to do to be a moral person? In this class, we consider the one major theory for how to act well: duty-based ethics.  In particular, we will discuss the theory of philosopher Immanuel Kant.  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.  We will consider how Kant's views of dignity and autonomy bear on recent debates about data and family courts.

Key Concepts: Rational Agency, Person (Kantian defn.), Autonomy, the Principle of Control, the Categorical Imperative