Kant's Moral Theory (Part 1 of 2)

Kant's Moral Theory (Part 1 of 2)

so if I ask you whether you think it's ever okay to boil a human baby to death most of you would say no absolutely it's always wrong and what that shows is there is a little bit of kantianism in you okay whether you want to admit it or not there's some kantianism in you or you might let's say you're trying to steal something and there's several voices within you several emotions and desires that are conflicting and so on but one of the voices says it's just wrong period that's kantianism okay so there probably is kantianism within your morality and arguably it's the foundation of your morality it's the ground of it so the first point as we get into kantianism is it's a type of deontological ethics there's other types and it's often contrasted with utilitarianism so in canton ism we're going to emphasize the motive in the act utilitarian emphasize the consequences for the Kantian you should never misuse people even if it brings about good consequences but for the utilitarian maybe it's OK in some cases if it maximizes the consequences for the utilitarian like John Stuart Mill he says that rights are just nonsense on stilts intrinsically rights aren't intrinsically valuable but for kin rights are very important you should in no other words you should not violate a person's rights there's a moral obligation to do that even if it brings about good consequences so hopefully that gives you a sort of a feel for the difference again a Kantian recognises the importance of keeping promises treating people as they deserved a very treated and following one's duty all for their own sake not just because they bring about good consequences all right that's what a canteen would say so look at the chart to compare and contrast them a bit more and when I go ahead and get into his moral theory and a good book that I'm going to start with is the grounding for the metaphysics of morals so as a preparatory remark note that Immanuel Kant is not claiming to discover or create a new morality rather he's describing the common morality that we already share so all of you said you against slavery you think child abuse is wrong torturing kittens for fun is wrong okay so we seem to share certain moral beliefs and Kant like Newton is going to discover the hit principles that govern our moral beliefs and by the way Kant has several arguments for why these hidden principles are a priori which means they're not these principles aren't based on looking at how people behave but we know how they ought to behave I'll priori in a sense you don't have to get into that though so Canton is writing for the person who thinks you know that you that it's wrong to lie in most cases and kill unnecessarily or easily break promises he's not really writing for the sociopaths Psychopaths or for the person who's looking for a reason to be moral he'll explore that later but in the beginning he's just uncovering the hidden principles of morality so his first point in this book is that the only thing good without qualification is a good will a good motive and this is crucial for understanding Caunt utilitarians think happiness is the sole intrinsic good but they're wrong because happiness can be good or bad so for example if I cheated my way to the top and I'm now very happy you might say my happiness is bad right or if I find pleasure and torturing kittens you might say oh that's a morally bad pleasure where if I somebody has courage and killing people and they show great courage and doing that you might say yeah courage mental abilities all these can be used for good or ill also they're not good without qualification but according to can a good will is the only thing good without qualification and to kind of clarify this he gives us the examples of two soldiers and that's why you see the little purple heart up there both soldiers are going to attempt to save these 20 people in the line of fire right and both are heroic but the first soldier gets shot and killed okay the second sholde soldier tries it and succeeds he saves the twenty people now even though the consequences were different you probably think of both soldiers as morally praiseworthy as heroes and that's the point we call both heroes and we hold them in the same moral regard even though one succeeded in one failed and this should make it clear that morality is about good motives not about good consequences mostly about good motives the proper objects and moral judgments are motives not the consequences that lie beyond our trol right so the only unconditional good is a good will so for some reason can it's going to have to or Kant believes and he will explain later that the good motives good wills are under our control whereas the other things are okay that's going to be important okay to clarify this even further look at these three shopkeepers we went over them in class so the first shopkeeper treats customers fairly because it's in her self-interest right imagine a young ignorant customer walks into the door but all three shopkeepers refrain from cheating the customer even though they could now the difference is they do it from different motives so the first shopkeeper acts out of prudence so she reasons that if she treated the customers poorly word might spread and she would lose business so it's in her self-interest to treat everybody fairly okay the second shopkeeper acts from emotion of love and empathy and so on and she treats the customer well because she is inclination and love and so on for the customer now the third shock keeper treats the customer well because it's her duty this third shopkeeper you can imagine maybe doesn't feel empathy and love and doesn't care about self-interest or maybe she does I don't know but she's acting from duty right not from her feelings so they're all performing the same action but they differ in their motives so what's the right what's the most moral of who's the most moral here of these three shopkeepers and most of my students say shopkeeper to write shopkeeper keeper to has this this wonderful emotional set or she actually cares for people but according to Kant only shopkeeper three is acting morally and that's going to take a lot of explaining but the basic reason is only shopkeeper three is acting from duty the others are acting from inclination or self-interest and notice that freedom in autonomy is really central to this concept of what it means to act from duty and to be moral so we don't hold two-year-old moral responsible because we don't believe they have free will also if I fall off a building and kill somebody you probably won't home anymore are we responsible or not as morally responsible as if I went out and premeditatedly got a gun and killed somebody right and that's because you believe in the first case I didn't act with freewill in the second case I did so you hold me morally responsible based on whether or not you think I had free will despite modern objections um so this second shopkeeper is acting from feelings and emotions but what happens when she feels bad the next day you know today she feels empathy to tomorrow she might feel like knocking your head off so the point is that she doesn't have free will over her emotions and feelings but morality is based on free will so morality can't be based on these feelings and emotions now I'm jumping the gun a bit early but the main point is according to Kant only the third shopkeeper is acting from duty and therefore moral all three are in accord with duty but only the third is from now there's a common misunderstanding that it rises at this point and some people think that Immanuel Kant is prising the person who has very base desires you know they just hate the customers and yet they treat them fairly out of duty all right it seems like Kant is saying that if you hate the customers and you treat them fairly then you're morally better than the merchant who loves the customers and treats them well but also acts out of duty and ken is not saying that Kant says elsewhere that it's good and proper to have love and good inclinations like the psychic shopkeeper does indeed and he believes we have a duty to cultivate such emotions in ourselves but his point is that the moral worth of the Act lies in acting from duty acting from duty right that's where the freedom is that's the moral worth and so on now in my personal opinion I agree with can't but I also like virtue theory as a supplement to Kant so the ideal shopkeeper in my mind is a blend of two and three shopkeepers two and three someone who acts from duty but this person has also integrated their life so that their desires and emotions are in chord with their duty and everything's harmonized like in Plato's soul so that's interesting sidenote okay so let's see where we're at so far the only thing good is acting from a goodwill and goodwill means acting from duty right not just in accord with it and acting from duty is acting because we somehow know what we ought to do but what is this odd what is this duty what constitutes duty so at this point can it's going to explain that he's going to explain the two types of aughts that we experiences and he calls these Ott's imperatives imperatives or commands there Ott's that we experience the first type is called the hypothetical imperative and there's actually two types of hypotheticals we don't need again to and the second type is the categorical imperative in the categorical imperative is a source of morality so the hypothetical imperatives are based on my goals and desires they're based on what I want so if I want to be a ballerina then I ought to practice ballet but if I don't want to be a ballerina than that hypothetical imperative that hot that I ought to practice ballet doesn't arise if I want to be a merman then I ought to practice swimming right and so on so I experience hypothetical imperatives when I have certain desires and you might experience different imperatives because you have different desires but categorical imperatives are different because they're always there they're there regardless of my goals and desires they're not based on what I want they Pleau they flow from my nature that I can't escape my rational nature so and all these categorical imperatives are always there they're like the beating of my heart they're always there whether I know it or not whether I pay attention to it or not they tell me things like I ought not to steal even though my strongest desire may be to steal they tell me I ought not to break promises even though it may be in my self-interest I think or I ought not to merely use people as tools even though it would be great okay why not I ought not to boil babies to death and so on so all these categorical imperatives constitute morality for Kant and he's going to have to explain more of what they are and where the come from so in the these slides here what you see is some comparisons between the hypothetical and categorical imperatives you might want to pause them and then you see an activity where we distinguish between the two and of those four statements only the third one is categorical because it says you should not lie because lying is wrong period the first one's hypothetical because if you're just seeking our reward in the afterlife you haven't even entered the moral sphere according to Kant you're you're just because of what you want you're changing desires is what that is based on that hot we're number two you should be honest because if you aren't you might get in a difficult situation and embarrass and stuff again that's not morality that's based on a fear of embarrassment so on number four you should not lie because God says so that's not a categorical imperative for Kant morality is not based on belief in God even though can't believe in God he doesn't believe morality is based on belief in God he does in a deep sense believe that morality supports a sort of faith in God that's different but yeah you don't need to believe in God to be moral according to Kant so anyway that's the hypothetical categorical imperatives and now we want to look more closely at the categorical again you might be a bit confused at this point say well don't our duties our aughts our categorical that's come from our culture and again Khan would say no it's the the categorical odd is the out that tells you which cultural beliefs are right and which ones are wrong yeah you might say isn't this just my conscience and perhaps it is but can't here is investigating exactly what conscience is and he's saying it's the categorical imperative deep in a deep sense right so yeah let's look at the categorical imperative then let's see here okay the first formulation let me make sure I got the slide up here okay so he's going to give us different formulations he says there's three and he gives us five I believe and the first formulation is to act on that maximum that you can at the same time will that it become a universe law so his idea here is let's see here – whatever you're about to do ask yourself what if everybody were doing it at all times in all places okay the and this would be the maximum the rule you would be following now when you say that if it leads to a logical contradiction then it's not permissible in a moral sense and what I'm going to do here is just stop and pick up in the next video to explain the rest of this Thanks you

What if the human baby is actually Hitler, but he accidentally used the shrink machine and turned himself into a baby; and now baby Hitler is furiously trying t navigate himself to the nuclear launch button to start of WW3. Now, would you still boil Hitler alive if you knew that when the officials arrive they wouldn't belive that Hitler has become a baby, and you're sure he's going to hit the switch and kill many more millions of people (possibly billions)?

Kant is just a man and the reality is: the fact that man inherently knows that certain actions are wrong doesn't mean "Kant is in them." It means that divinity (the inborn power of light and goodness from the Most High) is in them.

Besides, if one were to believe that divinity doesn't help guide the reasoning of man to determine what they believe is wrong, then on what basis is boiling a baby actually bad? Depending on the person, boiling the baby can be a good thing.

And even if there is no valid reason or circumstance to permit the action of boiling the baby, then who is to say that the individual boiling the baby is wrong if that said, condemned individual is simply doing it because it feels good to them and brings them extreme gratification? Are they really wrong?

wow, I am only a few minutes into this video, and great job!! wow, so clear, so helpful, so glad I found this, thank you for your work and help in elucidating the work and genius of Kant!

This has been a lifesaver. I'm learning Kant for my Social and Ethical Issues in Homeland Security class and Penn State and this has really helped me understand the information. Thank you! 🙂

I had to comment, as I have only just only come across this and it has given me more understanding of Kant than 5 years of philosophy ever has, in two brief videos. I cannot thank you enough for this clear, concise video with excellent examples. It has helped me enormously in my understanding of Kant and being able to evaluate his theory in different circumstances (I'm doing an essay on the ethics of 'Three Parent Babies' if you have heard of it (a type of genetic modification)) – before my arguments were hazed by misunderstanding, but this has helped me endless amounts with being able to apply and evaluate by using the theory to evaluate my essay topic!

'the only thing good without qualification is a GOOD will'
…. read: the only thing good without qualification is a qualified (good) will. how circular, kant!!!

how could we reference the example you say Kant uses of the two soldiers? Is this in Groundwork on the Metaphysics of Morals?

OH MAH GAWD, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THE CLEAR PRESENTATION! I finally understand Kant's moral theory!^___^

This was really well done. The truth is, morality cannot be consequentialist. All who think that way, I find tend to take many things for granted not seeing the logical entailments of their own deep-seated beliefs concerning morality. Also, a categorical deontological understanding of morality can deal with consequences so long as the deontological operation is at the foundation. Very good job teachphilosophy.

Your assessment of number 4, however, "you should not lie because God says so," is not shown to be distinct from the categorical moral concern. You just profess that it is. Furthermore, when you go on to say "you don't need to believe in God to be moral according to Kant" as your explanation of proposition 4, aren't you setting up something of a Straw Man? I mean proposition 4 inherently has nothing to do with BELIEF in God. So, your only relevant dealing of proposition 4 comes in where you go on to say, "he does in a sort of deep sense believe that morality supports a belief in God." So based on what you wrote and this last thing I quoted you saying about morality supporting a belief in God, for all we know, proposition 4 is reducible and actually identical to proposition 3 via logical equivalence.

11:20 Number 4 is actually directly tied with 3. If God says so, then it iS Right or IS wrong. So 4 leads to 3 which leads to being Morally right. This video is very helpful..


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