This week our main discussion will focus on explaining and evaluating the deontological ethical theory as discussed in Chapter 4 of the textbook. Your instructor will be choosing the discussion question and posting it as the first post in the main discussion forum. The requirements for the discussion this week include the following:
- The total combined word count for all of your posts, counted together, should be at least 600 words, not including references.
- You must answer all the questions in the prompt and show evidence of having read the resources that are required to complete the discussion properly (such as by using quotes, referring to specific points made in the text, etc.).
Discussion: Applying the Categorical Imperative
To ensure that your initial post starts its own unique thread, do not reply to this post. Instead, please click the “Reply” link above this post.
Please carefully read and think about the entire prompt before composing your first post. This discussion will require you to have carefully read Chapter 4 of the textbook, as well as the assigned portions of Immanuel Kant’s (2008) Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals.
Thames, B. (2018). How should one live? An introduction to ethics and moral reasoning (3rd ed.). Retrieved from https://content.ashford.edu
- This text is a Constellation™ course digital materials (CDM) title.
Kant’s text and the textbook discuss two “formulations” or ways of expressing Kant’s Categorical Imperative, the “Formula of Universal Law” and the “Formula of Humanity.” These two principles go together, for the full context of the categorical imperative. They only make full sense when combined. See the announcement this week for more on Kant and his system of philosophy.
For each formula, Kant considers four test cases to explain how it applies: Suicide, False Promises, Cultivating One’s Talents, and Beneficence.
- Engage with the text:
Choose one of these test cases (it can be from either formula), and explain in your own words the reasoning that leads to the conclusion Kant defends. You should first explain the Categorical Imperative itself, focusing on the particular formula you are considering, and then carefully show how that principle leads to a particular conclusion.
- Reflect on the theories:
Would a utilitarian come to a different conclusion? If so, explain why. If a utilitarian would come to the same conclusion in this case, could there be a variation in the case that would lead the utilitarian and Kant to come to different conclusions?
- Reflect on yourself:
Do you agree with Kant’s conclusion? If not, explain the flaws in his reasoning. If you do agree, and you think a utilitarian would come to a different conclusion in this or a slightly varied case, why do you think that Kant’s reasoning is superior to the utilitarian’s? (You may want to consult section 4.3, “Challenges to Kant’s Theory” for help with this section).
- Discuss with your peers:
Consider whether your peers have provided different analyses and/or responses than you did (or would, if it’s a different topic). If it is, raise some questions about their view that could lead to good discussion about your differences. If your responses were similar, think about a problem or worry that could be raised about your views, and discuss with your peer how to address it.