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Understanding Kant

 
 
imans
 
  1  
Reply Mon 18 Mar, 2013 09:36 am
im not familiar with kant, but i agree with the post clarifyin his position on ethics

there are two different truth

utalitarian one comes out of superiority

and the present value which is out of superiority freedom

when one free itself from superiority by recognizin it being to objective rights, then that present value is more true then objective superiority or its realities
and when truth is by definition exclusive then there is no other value at all

anyway, willin wishin meanin all those good intentions cant b but from smthg else that would b its sources, since it is pointin futur value
and when the value is not present then there wont b futur value of that

so the idea is about utalitarian vs true value

almost everyone seem to value smthg from what it can get from

and hates the principle of true value being constancy rewards, bc it is clear then that the individual will have to do all alone

utalitarian value lean on another fact of freedom rights

right sources is objective positive considerations
then objective could mean individual rights at least to stay objectively its own fact free

that is why too for someone true it would reject gettin rights as it does itself right but also to stay truly free so individually

so utalitarian ways is opposite to its sources
by enjoyin living from others lives and else creations while rejectin to deal with objective reality as it is

so it has no justification that support it but the idea of takin advantage from any value objective effects

truth is fundamental existence before anything else, while when truth is infinite superiority so perfection concept, then any conscious should constantly oblige itself to realize objective rights
but apparantly the opposite to that exist too

enjoyin the freedom constancy in not doing any conscious realisations but on the contrary on steppin on objective rights when they are seen so the freedom could still benefit more from what is supposed to b for rights powers
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Mon 18 Mar, 2013 12:12 pm
@joefromchicago,
joefromchicago wrote:
"Prevent murder" and "protect human lives" aren't acts,

I'm not saying they're acts. I'm saying they're possible maxims by which to act.

joefromchicago wrote:
they're motives.

Yes --- as it happens, they're that as well. But my argument does not depend on whether they are or not. It only depends on them being maxims.

joefromchicago wrote:
The categorical imperative isn't about motives, it's about acts.

That's not the way I would frame it, but no matter; I'll play along with your way for now. Even so, however, I claim that our accidental liar is home-free under the Categorical Imperative because his act is to execute on a generalizeable maxim. And that's all the Categorical Imperative demands of the act.

joefromchicago wrote:
You're still trying to turn Kant into a utilitarian.

How so? I said nothing about "desirable", "preferable", or any such Utilitarian concepts. All I said is this:
  1. "Save lives!" and "Prevent murder!" are possible maxims by which one might act.
  2. These maxims are generalizeable: they are logically capable for everyone to act on at all times.
  3. Because these maxims are generalizeable, acting by them is morally sound under the Categorical Imperative.
  4. That's what our accidental liar is doing.
  5. Therefore, my comment on Kant's article is: "The Categorical Imperative: You're doing it wrong!"
At which step in this argument am I introducing logical errors or non-Kantian concepts?
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Mon 18 Mar, 2013 12:34 pm
@Thomas,
Thomas wrote:
4. That's what our accidental liar is doing.

Footnote: I agree we'd have a genuine conflict between Kant's Categorical Imperative and Bentham's Principle of Utility if the lying was more than just accidental. If "you shall lie" was the maxim on which the liar acted, Bentham should still approve of this particular lie because of its desirable consequences. Kant, by contrast, should reject it because "you shall lie" is not a generalizable maxim --- as he himself explains in his article.

But that's just an aside, because this doesn't seem to be how Kant's adversary set up the thought experiment.
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Mon 18 Mar, 2013 01:07 pm
@Thomas,
Quote:
Therefore, my comment on Kant's article is: "The Categorical Imperative: You're doing it wrong!"

Another footnote: In my opinion, a constructive way for Kant to deal with the criticism would have been to acknowledge that his Categorical Imperative is incomplete: It has nothing to say about cases where every possible course of action violates a generalizable maxim. Hence, a respectable response for Kant would have been to think about possible resolutions of such conflicts. Instead, Kant gets all arrogant on his critic, pretending that the critic hadn't understood what Kant was saying. That's remarkably unphilosophic and petty for someone whose claim to fame comes from books titled "Critique of . . .".
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Mon 18 Mar, 2013 01:09 pm
@Thomas,
Thomas wrote:
I'm not saying they're acts. I'm saying they're possible maxims by which to act.

For Kant, a "maxim" is any rule by which one may act. So there are lots of maxims out there. An athlete, for instance, might have the maxim "always keep your eye on the ball" or a doctor might have the maxim "first, do no harm." That doesn't mean, however, that all maxims are ethical maxims. According to Kant, there's only one of those.

Thomas wrote:
That's not the way I would frame it, but no matter; I'll play along with your way for now. Even so, however, I claim that our accidental liar is home-free under the Categorical Imperative because his act is to execute on a generalizeable maxim. And that's all the Categorical Imperative demands of the act.

Since Kant explicitly said that lying is contrary to the categorical imperative, I'm not sure how you can say that your hypothetical liar is acting on a generalizable maxim.

Thomas wrote:
joefromchicago wrote:
You're still trying to turn Kant into a utilitarian.

How so?

Because you want him to be a consequentialist. You want, in other words, the ends to justify the means. If the end is "save lives," then that justifies lying, even though Kant specifically singled out lying as being contrary to the categorical imperative. For Kant, it doesn't really matter if the ends are good, bad, or indifferent: the consequences of an act are morally insignificant.

Now, I'll just add here that Kant never says that a person cannot violate the categorical imperative -- that's an important point that most people who engage in these kinds of discussions seem to forget. He just says that a person cannot violate the categorical imperative without acting immorally. In the story of the murderer who inquires as to the whereabouts of his intended victim, the person at the doorway is free to lie and say that the victim isn't there. It's just that, if he does lie, then he has acted immorally and must suffer whatever consequences arise therefrom. It matters not if he lies to save his friend, he has still acted immorally. And if he values his friend's life over his conscience, then he will probably not regret lying. That still doesn't mean, however, that he didn't act immorally by doing so.

Most disagreements come about when an attempt is made to whitewash an otherwise immoral act moral by adverting to the consequences of that act. In other words, you want the person at the doorway to be free to lie without breaching any moral rules. That can't be done. The liar commits an immoral act regardless of its consequences, even if he (or any objective spectator) values the consequences over the ethical breach. He may, in the end, be praised for his quick-thinking lie, but, according to Kant, he cannot be morally blameless.

Thomas wrote:
At which step in this argument am I introducing logical errors or non-Kantian concepts?

In the third step. As I noted before, just because a maxim is generalizable doesn't make it an ethical maxim.
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Mon 18 Mar, 2013 01:53 pm
@joefromchicago,
joefromchicago wrote:
Since Kant explicitly said that lying is contrary to the categorical imperative, I'm not sure how you can say that your hypothetical liar is acting on a generalizable maxim.

I can say that because good theories are frequently smarter than the theorists who invented them. Max Planck, for example, thought his energy quanta were just a pragmatic mathematical trick of no deep significance, when really they pushed theoretical physics down a rabbit hole into Alice-in-Wonderland psychedelia --- which experiments then turned out to confirm! Similarly, Newton never predicted the gravitational lens --- but his theories did. (At least they did that qualitatively. Quantitatively, the focal distance of Newton's gravitational lens would have come out too long by a factor of two; physics needed Einsteinian relativity to correct that. But the general point still stands.) With this in mind,my interest concentrates on the implications of good theories, not ipse dixits from the theorists who invented them. In particular, I see no reason to accept that lying violates the Categorical Imperative just because Kant said so.

joefromchicago wrote:
Now, I'll just add here that Kant never says that a person cannot violate the categorical imperative -- that's an important point that most people who engage in these kinds of discussions seem to forget.

Touché!

joefromchicago wrote:
He just says that a person cannot violate the categorical imperative without acting immorally. In the story of the murderer who inquires as to the whereabouts of his intended victim, the person at the doorway is free to lie and say that the victim isn't there. It's just that, if he does lie, then he has acted immorally and must suffer whatever consequences arise therefrom.

Yes, that was the missing piece of the puzzle. Thanks, Joe, that was helpful! It was also the answer that Kant should have given in his article. He could have just said that some situations leave you no choice but to act immorally. I wonder why he didn't.
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