Kantian and Utilitarian Case Study

Topics: Morality, Immanuel Kant, Deontological ethics Pages: 3 (967 words) Published: April 27, 2012
Kantian Ethics
It is clear from the case study that Alistair knows the contract is unorthodox. The problem he faces is whether he should overlook the bribe or report it to the board. The board of directors expects Alistair to tell the truth and report the bribe because of: his position as Chief Legal Officer, the board has a very strong ethics policy and they are wary of unethical activities. Immanual Kant theorised that moral rules are based on reason, in other words the ability to think and form logical judgements.(2) He believed that this moral reasoning is a priori, which meant that there is no knowledge needed of the outcome of an action to know if it is right or wrong.(2) His theory is an example of a deontological theory – the rightness or wrongness of our actions depends on if the action fulfils our duty. (1) Nothing is good in itself except a good will (to act from principle).(1) Our actions only have moral worth if we act from duty.(1) The morality of our actions is thus determined by our motivation for the action, which is influenced by our sense of duty, and not the consequences thereof. Kant believed in an absolute moral law that he called the Categorical Imperative. It is this imperative that determines our duty.(2) Two formulations of this imperative can be used to determine the morally correct action that Alistair should choose. The first formulation, The Formula of Universal Law: "Act only on that maxim through which you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law [of nature]."(2) Alistair has two possible maxims to act upon. These maxims, if it were universally applicable, are: “Anyone may lie in order to promote increasing human welfare” and “Everyone always tells the truth”. The first maxim is contradictory. If people had the option to lie, it negates the system of trust on which the world is built. When, for example, I put my money in the bank, I trust them to keep it safe. If the first maxim was universally accepted, I...
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