QUESTION: articulate and then evaluate the ethical positions of EUTHANASIA using Kantian ethics (that is, the categorical imperative) relative to the long-standing debate (that is your topic chosen in the week three assignment).9.2. The Categorical Imperative The idea that moral rules have no exceptions is hard to defend. It is easy enough to explain why we sometimes should break a rule—we can simply point to cases in which following the rule would have terrible consequences. But how can we defend not breaking the rule in such cases? We might say that moral rules are God’s inviolable commands. Apart from that, what can be said? Before the 20th century, there was one major philosopher who believed that moral rules are absolute. Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) argued that lying is wrong under any circumstances.
He did not appeal to religion; instead, he held that lying is forbidden by reason itself. To see how he reached this conclusion, let’s look at his general theory of ethics. Kant observed that the word ought is often used nonmorally: • If you want to become a better chess player, you ought to study the games of Magnus Carlsen. • If you want to go to college, you ought to take the SAT. Much of our conduct is governed by such “oughts.” The pattern is this: We have a certain desire (to become a better chess player, to go to college); we recognize that a certain course of action will help us get what we want (studying Carlsen’s games, taking the SAT); and so we follow the indicated plan. Kant called these “hypothetical imperatives” because they tell us what to do if we have the relevant desires. A person who did not want to improve her chess would have no reason to study Carlsen’s games; someone who did not want to go to college would have no reason to take the SAT. Because the binding force of the “ought” depends on having the relevant desire, we can escape its grip by letting go of the desire. So, for example, I can avoid taking the SAT by deciding that I do not want to go to college. Moral obligations, by contrast, do not depend on having particular desires. The form of a moral obligation is not “if you want so-and-so, then you ought to do such-and-such.” Instead, moral requirements are categorical: They have the form, “You ought to do such-and- such, period.” The moral rule is not, for example, that you ought to help people if you care about them or if you want to be a good person. Instead, the rule is that you should help people no matter what your desires are. That is why moral requirements cannot be escaped by saying “I don’t care about that.” Hypothetical “oughts” are easy to understand. They merely tell us to do what is necessary to achieve our goals. Categorical “oughts,” on the other hand, are mysterious. How can we be obligated to behave in a certain way regardless of our goals? Kant has an answer. Just as hypothetical “oughts” are possible because we have desires, categorical “oughts” are possible because we have reason. Categorical oughts, Kant says, are derived from a principle that every rational person must accept: The Categorical Imperative. In his Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals (1785), Kant expresses the Categorical Imperative as follows: Act only according to that maxim by which you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law. This principle provides a way to tell whether an act is morally allowed. When you are thinking about doing something, ask what rule you would be following if you actually did it. This rule will be the “maxim” of your act. Then ask whether you would be willing for your maxim to become a universal law. In other words, would you allow your rule to be followed by all people at all times? If so, then your maxim is sound, and your act is acceptable. But if not, then your act is forbidden. Kant gives several examples of how this works. Suppose, he says, a man needs money, but no one will lend it to him unless he promises to pay it back—which he knows he will not be able to do. Should he make a false promise to get the loan? If he did, his maxim would be: Whenever you need a loan, promise to repay it, even if you know you can’t. Now, could he will that this rule become a universal law? Obviously not, because it would be self-defeating. Once this rule became a universal practice, no one would believe such promises, and so no one would make loans based on them. Kant gives another example, about giving aid. Suppose, he says, I refuse to help others in need, saying to myself, “What do I care? Let each person fend for himself.” This, again, is a rule that I cannot will to be a universal law. For at some point in my life, I will need the help of others, and I will not want them to turn away from me.. Get Nursing Assignments Help