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The Categorical (unconditional) Imperative (command)
An unconditional obligation/duty that applies to us all without exception.
Kants Moral Criteria
Good will (Good will is about acting from, or on, principle).
Universal acceptability (A rule that every rational person would accept).
Humanity as an end, never as merely a means to an end (do not use others to achieve your goal).
Problems with Kant
The theory is inflexible.
It does not give us answers when we are faced with conflicting interests.
It allows us to abrogate our responsibilities.
An act is morally right if, and only if, it best promotes an agent's long-term interests.
An agent can be an individual, an organisation, a group or a country.
People are so constructed that they must behave selfishly.
Truly unselfish actions are impossible because all actions are motivated by self-interest.
The belief's, attitudes and responses of others may impact upon one's interests.
By pursuing long-term self interest an egoist's actions may be contrary to his immediate interest, but beneficial in the long-term.
Problems with Egoism
Psychological egoism is not a sound theory.
Ethical egoism is not a true moral theory.
Egoism misunderstands the nature and point of morality.
- Ethical egoism ignores blatant wrongs.
- The idea underlying the theory is unsound.
Misconceptions About Egoists
Egoists believe in 'eat, drink and be merry' (egoists will endure unpleasantness for the advancement of long-term interests).
All egoists endorse hedonism (egoists may hold any theory of what is good).
Egoists cannot be gracious, act honestly or help others (egoists will benefit others if, in doing so, it will promote their long-term interests).
Identify the moral agent.
Identify negative consequences.
Identify positive consequences (for the agent) of the action/decision.
Weigh up consequences to determine long-term interest.
State clearly the result of your analysis.
Applying Virtue Ethics
What virtues can you draw upon in order to make an ethical decision?
What would an 'excellent' person do?
Make a clear statement based on your analysis.
A virtue is the means between a vice of deficiency and a vice of excess.
Cowardice - Courage - Foolhardiness
Parsimony - Generosity - Wastefulness
Brashness - Modesty - Self-righteousness
Problems with Virtue Ethics
How do we determine vices and virtues (when does a vice of deficiency/excess become a virtue? What some see as a virtue, others may view as a vice).
Ethic of Care
The well-being of the individual is dependent upon the well-being of the community.
To maintain the well-being of the community is to enhance one's own well-being.
An ethic of caring recognises this interdependence, and contains a moral imperative to administer to the well-being of others.
Problems with Ethics of Care
How far do we extend 'community'?
How do we know what is best for the community?
Applying Ethics of Care
With whom do we have a relationship?
Are we considering the effect that the action will have on ourselves and those with whom we have a relationship?
Is justice being done?
Empathise - put yourself in their shoes.
Is equality being achieved?
What is the right thing to do?
Is anyone suffering?
Will this action/decision enhance their wellbeing?
We should always act to produce the greatest possible balance of good over bad for everyone affected by our actions.
The greatest good for the greatest number constitutes what is right and what is wrong.
The maximisation of happiness for everyone is our only moral obligation.
We apply the utilitarian standard to a specific act.
The utilitarian standars should be applied to moral codes as a whole.
We should apply the utilitarian standard only to the assessment of alternative moral codes.
Those groups who can affect, or are affected by, the achievement of an organisation's purpose.
Problems with Utilitarianism
How far should we extend the list of stakeholders?
We cannot know with certainty the consequences of an action/decision.
How does one accurately measure happiness?
The minority loses out.
Identify all stakeholders.
Determine positive consequences for each stakeholder/group.
Determine negative consequences for each.
Weigh up consequences to determine the greatest good for the greatest number.
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