Kants Ethics And Our Duty
Kant’s famous First Formulation of the Categorical Imperative reads, “Act only according to that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law.” Kant taught morality as a matter of following maxims of living that reflect absolute laws. “Universal” is a term that allows for no exceptions, and what is universal applies always and everywhere. Don’t forget about the second formulation of the categorical imperative which states, “Act in such a way that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of another, always at the same time as an end and never simply as a means.” It is just as important.
Initial Post Instructions
For the initial post, address one of the following sets of questions:
What are the personal and/or communal ethical factors that may be involved in determining the moral position of either side given a contemporary debate, such as those concerning animal rights, stem cell research, abortion, the death penalty, and so forth?
Elaborate in detail the ethical positions arrived at by using the Kantian categorical imperative relative to the long standing debate surrounding the death penalty or abortion. Argue the ethics from the point of view of the prisoner or from the fetus
Evaluate the ethical positions in part two. You will want to detail whether they are convincing, logical, correct, consistent, etc.
Minimum of 2 sources cited (assigned readings/online lessons and an outside scholarly source)
APA format for in-text citations and list of references
1. The neglect of animal rights can come in so many forms. This could include, in its extreme form, the outright killing of animals for the sheer and perverted pleasure of it. One of Kant’s criteria for the First Formulation of the Categorical Imperative is one’s maxim or moral belief would be morally permissible if it were conceivable in a world where such maxim is the universal law. In its most extreme form, if the universal law allowed the outright killing of animals for sheer pleasure (for example, all people killed animals with that mindset), there would eventually be no animals in the world. That maxim of neglecting animal rights would be nullified by the sheer absence of animals due to massive killings. No animals, no animal rights. Hence, failing this test, the neglect of animal rights is not morally permissible.
The right to commit abortion fails Kant’s First Formulation in much the same way as the neglect of animal rights. Abortion, if done by all people (assuming everyone is a rational agent, given that a human being is considered a rational creature in general), would eventually result in a world without people. If there were no people, there would be know morality (for morality is the realm of rational agents like human beings). Hence, abortion is not ethically permissible.
2. Both the use of stem cell research (particularly embryonic stem cell research) and the death penalty fail the test of Kant’s Second Formulation. The second formulation (which Stanford University alternatively calls “the Humanity Formula”) calls all rational agents to respect the humanity of people per se and not simply because they are “a means to an end.” This means people should be valued for simply “being human” and not for their social value, status, or importance in the public’s eye. Hence, for obvious reasons, stem cell research cannot be morally permissible because it partially advocates the using of embryos for scientific research and applications (human embryos die in this process, as Healthline states in the link below). The killing of embryos subject to stem cell research clearly indicates lack of respect for the embryos’ humanity. This is despite the fact that among the products of this type of research is treatment of some terminal illnesses.
Abortion does not pass Kant’s Second Formulation in a similar way to the conduct of stem cell research. The fetus in the womb is still a human being, and its killing cannot be justified by any reason whatsoever. This is simply because the fetus already has humanity in him. He or she may not be a practicing rational agent yet, but that human already has the basic component parts that will make him a rational being once he is born.
Lastly, the death penalty fails Kant’s Humanity Formula. This killing of prisoners is implemented for the utilitarian end of discouraging heinous crimes. Despite the apparent nobility of this policy, Kant advocates that a person, no matter how vicious, does not lose his humanity. Therefore, criminals cannot simply be disposed of in this manner despite their apparent uselessness to society.
3. There is no doubt that stem cell research, abortion, and the death penalty fail Kant”s Second Formulation. Stem cell research and abortion both involve the death of early-stage human beings for utilitarian purposes. Some may argue that a fetus or embryo is not yet a human being (and therefore, not rational agents), thus they cannot be protected by Kant’s Humanity Formula. However, this is far from true because both entities already contain the parts that will make them rational agents in the future. Robert P George and Patrick Lee, in an excerpt from the scientific journal EMBO Reports, states “human embryos are indeed human beings and, as such, deserve a level of respect that is incompatible with treating them as disposable research material (see NCBI URL below for more information).” Being thus under the protection of Kant’s Second Formulation, it is not morally permissible to kill either fetus or embryo for whatever ends.