Kant’s Theory

Emmanuel Kant opposed the utilitarianism theories of morality. He believed that some acts are prohibited whether they bring happiness or not (Cummiskey, 1996). Determining the rightness or wrongness of an action depends on its moral fulfillment. For instance, even if an act produces more good than harm, if it is morally wrong, then it should not be done. For example, if killing someone will create peace because killing is considered morally wrong, it should not be done. Therefore some acts such as theft, murder, or lying are wrong regardless of their consequences or context.

I slightly agree with the utilitarians when they argue that morality depends on context and consequences. However, Moral acts do not merely depend on principles and ethics as Kant argues, context and consequences influence moral actions. On the other hand, morality is universal and it is based on the categorical imperative such that one cannot claim that a certain moral command does not apply to them even if they utilitarians.

In the case study, the consequences of the disease should not force people to quarantine, rather, everyone should take responsibility for their health based on their values, norms, and rules. Even if quarantine reduces the spread of the disease, the state should determine whether it is right to force people into it. The state cannot justify that lack of quarantine will increase casualties because it is morally wrong to deprive people of their rights to go out. Additionally, according to the categorical imperative that morality is based on, if the state cannot make quarantine their law, then it should not be made a general law.

Deontology is based on the duty-based principles which explain people have a duty to act accordingly regardless of consequences (Misselbrooke, 2013). The principles apply universally to everyone, therefore, other homeland security measures such as immigration should apply to both the state and the citizens. For example, if a citizen is prohibited from traveling abroad, a government agent should also be prohibited.


Student Responses

Nicholas Megill

Noting that Kant’s theory and other philosophical theories depend on each other for a rationale ethical theory is true. I agree with the fact that context and consequences to some extent affect moral behavior (Irwin, 2020). However, as you noted, contemplating moral action also depends on moral ethics and norms. Therefore, one philosophical theory cannot stand on its own but they work hand in hand. Also, as you noted that morality is universal, everybody is entitled to act accordingly. Additionally, in the case of homeland security measures, I agree that deontology is universal and applies to all. Whatever the government thinks applies to citizens should also apply to it regardless of the consequences.

Maryam Khan

I strongly agree that morality depends on an individual’s beliefs and values. As you noted, something that is right for someone might be wrong for someone else. This explains that people hold different beliefs and make moral judgments based on what they believe in (Wainryb, 1993). Also, as you explained, if moral laws are to be made, it should be done if we are only ready to execute them. Again, growing up in basic teachings and religious cultures helps one become morally upright. It is delighting you stated that even though rules and regulations are there to be followed and navigate survival, individual principles constitute the larger percentage of survival in society. Morality, therefore, is individualized based on beliefs, values, and norms.

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Cummiskey, D. (1996). Kantian consequentialism. Oxford University Press on Demand.

Irwin, T. (2020). Utilitarianism. Ethics Through History, 232-255. DOI:10.1093/oso/9780199603701.003.0020

Misselbrook, D. (2013). Duty, Kant, and Deontology. British Journal Of General Practice63(609), 211-211. DOI: 10.3399/bjgp13x665422

Wainryb, C. (1993). The application of moral judgments to other cultures: Relativism and universality. Child Development64(3), 924. DOI:10.2307/1131227