PSU PHIL 001 - Kantian Approaches to Some Famine Problems

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Kantian Approaches to Some Famine Problems (pg. 138)Onora O’Neill• A simplified account of Kant’s Ethics:o Kant supposedly hard to understand with demanding requirementso Goals: reduce difficulties, show implications of a Kantian moral theory for action toward those who do/might suffer famine, compare Kantian and utilitarian approaches and assess strengths and weaknesses o Only going to explain 1 part of the theoryo He gives many versions of Supreme Principe of Morality, that don’t look like each other or like Utilitarian’s Greatest Happiness Principleo Kant’s Supreme Principle: the Categorical Imperative –focusing on the Formula of the End in Itself• The Formula of the End in Itself: o “Act in such a way that you always treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, never simply as a means but always at the same time as an end”o Each of our acts expresses one or more maxims (the principle on which one sees onself as acting)o Taking the terms maxim and intention as equivalento Whenever we act intentionally, we should be able to state our maxims o According to Kant, when determining if an act is right or wrong, we should look at our maxims and not the likely result. Check that act we have in mind does not use anyone as a mere means, treats them as ends in themselves• Using Persons as Mere Meanso Use someone as mere means= involve them in scheme of action to which they couldn’t really consento Not wrong to use someone as a means as long as they are consenting (using teller to get money but they are using you to earn their living)o Using them as a MERE means is wrongo False promising= treating the acceptor of the promise as a mere means—thus it is wrongo Standard way of treating people as mere means= deceiving them, coercing them• Treating Persons as Ends in Themselveso Kant: duties of justice are the most important of our dutieso If we fail in these duties, we have used others as mere meanso Even if we don’t use them as mere means, we may be failing to use them as ends in themselves completelyo Must not treat people as mere means, must respect them as a rational person with own maxims. One should also seek to foster others’ plans and maxims by sharing some of their endso To act beneficently: to seek others’ happiness, intend to achieve some things that others aim at. o Beneficence must be selective.o Sharp distinction between requirements of justice and of beneficence in Kantian ethics. This study source was downloaded by 100000820816648 from on 03-24-2022 15:12:54 GMT -05:00 Justice: must act on no maxims that use others as mere meanso Beneficence: must act on some maxims that foster others’ ends, matter of judgment for which oneso Kantians consider only the proposals for action that occur to them, check that these use no other as mere meanso Kant’s theory= less scope than utilitarianismo One can usually tell whether one’s act uses others as mere means, even if impact on human happiness is unknown• Kantian Deliberations on Famine Problemso Kantian theory does not require us to turn our attention first to those who suffer most—could deal with those closer to home. Not obliged to help the starving.o Contrast between theory that makes massive but indeterminate demands and a theory that makes fewer but less unambiguous demands and leaves other questions like allocation of beneficence unresolvedo Kantian ethics silent on moral status of unintentional action• Kantian Duties of Justice in Times of Famineo Requires that we do no injusticeo This can be difficult in situations where it is easier and seems more necessary o One should not cheat/seek more than one’s fareo Should not take advantage of others’ desperation to divert goods into black market and get moneyo Transactions that look like sales can be coercive if one party is desperateo All forms of corruption that deceive or put pressure on others are wrongo Kant justice requires that in famine situations must still fulfill duties to help otherso If unfulfillable, wont judge wrong person who did their besto When no means to fulfill particular obligations, Kantian principles may require generation of sacrifice. Won’t require to seek to maximize happiness of later generations, only to establish security and posterity needed for present obligationso Could one avoid deception and coercion by simply doing nothing about famine situation?o Common in writings in ethics/social policy to distinguish between one’s personal responsibilities and one’s role responsibilities (“As an individual I sympathize, but in my official capacity I can do nothing”)o Kantians would play down this distinctiono When we take on positions, we add to our responsibilities those that the job requires and do not lose any personal responsibilitieso It is hard to identify coercion and deception in complicated institutional settings• Kantian Duties of Beneficence in Times of Famineo Many opportunities for beneficenceo Area where primary task is to develop others’ capacity to pursue own ends—extreme poverty, cannot pursue any of their ends—this is more important than sharing ends with people who can pursue their own• The Limits of Kantian Ethics: Intentions and Resultso Kantian ethics can only assess intentional actsThis study source was downloaded by 100000820816648 from on 03-24-2022 15:12:54 GMT -05:00 Usually used on individuals, but can be used on anything with a decision making procedure (corporation)o Might seem great limitation that it cannot examine results. o Good intentions might lead to bad results, or bad intentions might produce no resultso However, we cant just claim our intentions—they reflect what we expect the immediate results of our actions to beo Where people’s voiced opinions ignore normal/predictable results of what they intend to do, we assume these were not their real intentionso If the real intention uses no other as mere means, he/she does nothing unjusto If some of his/her intentions foster others’ ends, they’re sometimes beneficento Can use Kantian arguments to decide whether an action is wrong even though don’t have full scope of results. They will not cause harms that they can foresee without being reflected in their intentions.This study

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PSU PHIL 001 - Kantian Approaches to Some Famine Problems

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