de Silentio wrote:
Act only according to that maxim by which you can at the same time will that it become a universal law. - Kant
From what I understand, Kant's moral philosophy is derived from his metaphysical philosophy. I have just begun trying to understand Kant's metaphysical philosophy, so I have not had the chance to see how. Perhaps another could expound on this.
Either way, I feel that deontologists have the advantage of looking beyond the surface of actions. What is right in an action comes from the universality that is the human condition. If an act can be universal good for mankind, then it is the right action to perform, not when it has the most benefit, but all the time. Why should right and wrong be determined per situation? Should whimsical humans be trusted with this responsibility?
Perhaps I stated the question wrong.
It's always seemed to me that deontological moral theories have a giant black hole in them. They state you should follow certain rules. For example, Kant's categorical imperative.
How will I, or anyone else for that matter, benefit from following the categorical imperative?
How do deontologists determine if an action is wrong? Ignoring Kant for now, why would you follow a law like "Thou shalt not kill?" Why would you follow a law with no rationale behind it?
Followers of the categorical imperative might say that an action is wrong because if it was a universal law the world would be worse off. But say you were in deep poverty and had to rob someone for food and money. But if everyone
robbed each other, the world would be worse off, so this action is ethically wrong, according to the categorical imperative, even though you might've saved your family by robbing that person for food and money.
[quote]You might find Rule Utilitarianism interesting. As opposed to Act Utilitarianism, a Rule Utilitarianist will come to the same conclusions about an action as would a deontologist.
... No they wouldn't.
A rule utilitarian follows certain general rules because the consequence of acting against those rules would not cause the greatest amount of pleasure/least amount of pain attainable.
For example, not killing unless your life is in imminent danger is a general 'rule'.
On the other hand, a deontologist follows a rule just because the rule says you should follow it. The deontologist isn't concerned with the outcome of the actions (or then he'd be a consequentialist and not a deontologist).
Deontologists say you should judge the action, not the consequence of the action.
Again, with the exception of Kant, how should we judge an action?
How do we ascertain if an action is right or wrong?
You need a rational basis for everything. Consequentialists have one but deontologists don't. You can't just judge an action without judging its results.