Discussion Questions Kantian Ethics

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Discussion Questions

Kantian Ethics

Kant claims that a good will (defined loosely as the intention to do good) is good in itself (i.e., it has intrinsic worth), and even if our will fails to bring about the desired goal, the will itself is still valuable so long as it is good. Think of examples to support this claim.

Why are “talents of the mind “ (such as intelligence, wit, judgment, and courage) and

“gifts of fortune” (such as power, riches, honor and health) not intrinsically good according to Kant?

What is the difference between acting in accord with duty and acting from duty?

Which one has moral worth according to Kant?

Why is making oneself happy a duty according to Kant?

What’s the difference between a categorical imperative and a hypothetical imperative?

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Define “maxim.”

The first formulation of the categorical imperative is the “Universal Law.” It states that we must always act on the maxim whereby we can at the same time will that it become a universal law. Restate this formulation in your own words. How does this formulation differ from the Golden Rule (Do unto others as you would have done unto you)?

The second formulation of the categorical imperative is the “Means/Ends Principle,” which states that we must always treat people as ends and never as a mere means.

What does it mean to treat people as an “end”? What is the difference between

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treating people as a means and treating people as a mere means? Give examples to illustrate your answers.

Would it be possible or desirable to universalize the following maxims? a.

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Never work unless you absolutely must.

Always do your own thing, unless doing so hurts someone else.

Give nothing and expect nothing in return.

Sell all you have and give to the poor.

Let your conscience be your guide (in other words, go with your gut).

Never discriminate against anyone on the basis of race, religion, ethnicity, g.

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sex, gender, or sexual orientation.

Never physically punish a child.

Never lie.

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Describe some differences between utilitarianism and Kant’s ethics (deontology).

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