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kellhus == good guy?? posted 18 May 2004 in The Darkness That Comes Beforekellhus == good guy?? by Peter, Auditor

I was hoping this wouldn't be asked cos there is at least one person here who will be able to point out why I have totally misinterpretated it, namely the resident philosophy graduate Mr Bakker... Damn

I won't go into the argumentation for it except very briefly because I am a little rusty on this (been nearly a year since I last had to study it for exams).

Basically Kantian ethics was developed by Emmanual Kant, a german philosopher of the late 18th century. It is a deontological theory, that is to say that morality is based upon following certain rules or duties rather than aiming for some supposedly desirable goal (as with utilitarianism).

Essentially, Kant uses a type of argument called the Transcendental Argument through which one can determine a priori what are pre-conditions of certain things (I am not sure of this, the actual argument is more complex I am sure and this may actually be wrong... perhaps Myself could intervene here, he/she mentioned that he/she was interestred in Kant). through this argument Kant claimed he had found that if there is to be such a thing as morality then it must be universalisable. Universalisability essentially encompasses the idea that morality must be consistent, a rule cannot apply to one person in one situation but not to another in another situation with the same relevant criterion.

That was the main argument bit which I am going to talk about, now on to what the theory claims we should or should not do. Kant, through more argumentation develops what he calls the Categorical Imperative which states that one should only act upon such maxims as one may at the same time will to be universal laws. This may seem a little weird, but he then clarifies what he means with an example. Imagine a person wished to universalise the maxim "always make lying promises" (i.e. promises which you have no intention of keeping). The problem is that if this maxim were made into a universal law (universalised) then all no one would ever intend to keep their promises and the institution of promising would cease to exist. The problem does not lie with the fact that no one could ever make any promises any more, that would be consequentialist, instead the problem is that when someone used the word "promise" post universalisation it would not mean anything and therefore the statement "always make lying promises" would cease to have meaning. Universalisation of this maxim destroys the meaning of the maxim and therefore the maxim cannot be universalised. As I understand the Categorical Imperative I think the same system can be applied to lying and theft, and possibly more things beyond this...

Kant argues that the Categorical Imperative may be reformulated into what he calls the Practical Imperative which states always treat rational human nature not simply as a means, but also always as an end in itself. I have to admit I cannot remember how he does this and at the moment I do not have access to my book with this in because it has been lent out to a friend... <!-- s:oops: --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_redface.gif" alt=":oops:" title="Embarassed" /><!-- s:oops: -->

One final point, how I defend myself against a nihilist... The Transcendental Argument does not require that I make a judgement about the nature of morality before agreeing that it exists (if it exists then it is like this) and from there on in I believe it follows a logically sound path. Someone who denies the existence of morality does so at the same time as I affirm its existence and as such there is no argument between us, merely faith. You have faith that there is no such thing and I that there is.

Sorry if this is rather long and probably not all that interesting to most people... view post


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