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phi 208 question




Deontology holds, in opposition to Utilitarianism (and other consequentialist theories), that the right thing to do does not depend on what you get out of it. Some things are right or wrong because they just are that way. Keeping a promise is something that obligates us to keep it because of the nature of that act.The act of murder is just categorically wrong. We have a duty to keep our promises and we also have a duty to not murder. The most famous deontologist, Immanuel Kant believed in these rules but thought that people needed a reasonable explanation of why they are obligatory. In explaining this, Kant thought he needed to have something that could apply to many different types of actions and would be such that it could motivate us. To figure out if an action is right or wrong, the theory asks us to apply the ?Categorical Imperative,? which in essence asks us, ?What if everyone did that?? This would explain why it is wrong to break promises, because if everyone did then we could never trust anyone. In using our reason to answer this question, we find that if the general action we are about to perform could not be universalized (made okay for all people to do) then we ought not to do it.;In another way, deontology relies upon our ability to reason things through in order to make sure that we are creating universal rules that everyone can live by. In a different formulation of this way of thinking, the Categorical Imperative gets shortened down to the principle of ?Do not use people as means to your own ends.? As people have an inherent dignity, we ought to respect that dignity and not treat them like we would objects. Many students draw a connection between the Categorical Imperative and the Golden Rule, but they are not the same and have some crucial differences. However, they do share in the claim thatour actions should promote respect for other?s (and our own) rational ability.;Kant?s ideas give us a way to understand morality in its most general sense. Utilitarianism might do well to help us quantify the pleasures and pains associated with an act, but Deontology instead worries about the intentions someone has in performing the act itself. This gives us an interesting tool for looking at different forms of applied ethics. Instead of looking at outcomes, we would instead focus on the obligations that individuals or organizations have. This puts many more obligations onto an individual or group but in the name of promoting good will towards all those involved. The good of all those involved also plays a part in the duties that individuals mayhave to speak up when they think their organization is not acting out of good will. This is a very relevant issue given the recent whistleblowing cases involving people like Edward Snowden or the recent problems at General Motors. On the one hand, individuals have a duty to protect their respective organization, but on the other the individual has a duty to speak up when others might be harmed by my organization?s actions. This conflict of obligations is not always clear cut and raises many more ethical questions.;Question that needs answered;The Discussion this week will have us applying Kant?s second formulation of the Categorical Imperative to the topic of business ethics. The second formulation is concerned with the treatment of others. For Kant, because people are rational, can decide for themselves how they want to live, and have an inherent worth, meaning should not be used as we use objects. Indeed, the reason that anything (in the sense of objects) has avalue is because humans put a value on it. People are value givers, not something to be used. To get a sense of this: what would gold be worth if there were no humans? For Kant, he thinks we ought to respect others for these reasons. We ought not to use others towards out own ends. That does not mean that we cannot enter into agreements with others for work. We just need to make sure that we are not using them merely as an object to get what we want. While objects have a price, we can put a price on what our skills are worth. For Kant, the distinction here is something between employment and slavery. In employment, employers and employees make an exchange of pay for work completed. I may be a cabinet maker and someone will pay me for my skills in that field so that they can get a place to but their dishes. This respects me as someone who can choose what to do with their time. Slavery, on the other hand, treats people as objects to be used (or abused) as their owner sees fit. To move this to the level of business, we know that sometimes business take advantage of others, while others seem to promote the well-being of others. For this discussion you will likely want to bring in examples from the internet to help support your understanding. This also raises the issue of how high the standard is for Kant?s theory and if it is practical.


Paper#75207 | Written in 18-Jul-2015

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