Phil 20008 Kant’s Justification of Moral Duty Paper Mid-semester Essay

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Phil 20008: Mid-semester Essay Semester 1, 2019 Any citation style may be used so long as you are consistent. Chicago author-date is easy to use. Word length: 2000 words (50% of final grade). Papers may not exceed word length by more than 10% (including footnotes and quotations, but excluding bibliography). There is no lower word limit, but a paper that is significantly short is unlikely to have the level of depth that we are looking for. Paper topics:

1. John Stuart Mill’s “proof” of utilitarianism has been much criticized. Explain what you take to be the most plausible reconstruction of his “proof”. Critically evaluate it.

2. Mill argues that a utilitarian should not only take into account quantity of pleasure, but also quality of pleasure. To do this he differentiates higher from lower pleasures. Briefly explain why and how he makes this distinction. Is it a useful distinction? Defend your view.

3. In “Alienation, Consequentialism, and Morality” Peter Railton sets out to defend act consequentialism against the objections that it is a cold and unfeeling doctrine and that it is too demanding. Briefly explain Railton’s rejoinder to these objections. Does it succeed? Why or why not?

4. Objections to utilitarianism often proceed by considering what a utilitarian is committed to saying about a particular case or cases and claim that this is the wrong answer. This argumentative strategy gives considerable theory-building weight to our intuitions about particular cases. How much weight are they being asked to bear? Can they bear this much weight? Defend your view.

5. Consequentialism takes many forms from the simplest, act utilitarianism, to pluralist rule- consequentialism. Which version of consequentialism do you take to be most plausible? Defend your view.

6. The following is a famous and controversial passage from Kant: Suppose then, the mind of this philanthropist were over-clouded by his own grief, which extinguished all sympathy with the fate of others, and that while he still had the means to benefit others in distress their troubles did not move him because he had enough to do with his own; and suppose that now, when no longer incited to it by any inclination, he nevertheless tears himself out of this deadly insensibility and does the action without any inclination, simply from duty; then the action first has its genuine moral worth. (Kant, Groundwork.) Discuss.

7. Briefly explain Korsgaard’s “Practical Contradiction Interpretation” of Kant’s Formula of Universal Law (FUL). Next, apply this interpretation of the FUL to a case of your own choosing, explaining your reasoning. Use the bulk of your essay to evaluate whether, on this interpretation, the FUL can provide an adequate test to identify immoral maxims of action.

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Phil 20008: Mid-semester Essay Semester 1, 2019 Any citation style may be used so long as you are consistent. Chicago author-date is easy to use. Word length: 2000 words (50% of final grade). Papers may not exceed word length by more than 10% (including footnotes and quotations, but excluding bibliography). There is no lower word limit, but a paper that is significantly short is unlikely to have the level of depth that we are looking for. Paper topics: 1. John Stuart Mill’s “proof” of utilitarianism has been much criticized. Explain what you take to be the most plausible reconstruction of his “proof”. Critically evaluate it. 2. Mill argues that a utilitarian should not only take into account quantity of pleasure, but also quality of pleasure. To do this he differentiates higher from lower pleasures. Briefly explain why and how he makes this distinction. Is it a useful distinction? Defend your view. 3. In “Alienation, Consequentialism, and Morality” Peter Railton sets out to defend act consequentialism against the objections that it is a cold and unfeeling doctrine and that it is too demanding. Briefly explain Railton’s rejoinder to these objections. Does it succeed? Why or why not? 4. Objections to utilitarianism often proceed by considering what a utilitarian is committed to saying about a particular case or cases and claim that this is the wrong answer. This argumentative strategy gives considerable theory-building weight to our intuitions about particular cases. How much weight are they being asked to bear? Can they bear this much weight? Defend your view. 5. Consequentialism takes many forms from the simplest, act utilitarianism, to pluralist ruleconsequentialism. Which version of consequentialism do you take to be most plausible? Defend your view. 6. The following is a famous and controversial passage from Kant: Suppose then, the mind of this philanthropist were over-clouded by his own grief, which extinguished all sympathy with the fate of others, and that while he still had the means to benefit others in distress their troubles did not move him because he had enough to do with his own; and suppose that now, when no longer incited to it by any inclination, he nevertheless tears himself out of this deadly insensibility and does the action without any inclination, simply from duty; then the action first has its genuine moral worth. (Kant, Groundwork.) Discuss. 7. Briefly explain Korsgaard’s “Practical Contradiction Interpretation” of Kant’s Formula of Universal Law (FUL). Next, apply this interpretation of the FUL to a case of your own choosing, explaining your reasoning. Use the bulk of your essay to evaluate whether, on this interpretation, the FUL can provide an adequate test to identify immoral maxims of action. ...
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1

KANT’S JUSTIFICATION OF MORAL DUTY
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Kant’s justification of moral duty
Sympathy and compassion based on moral motivation in the philosophical field have taken
into deliberation the emotion issue. Before, Plato primarily focused on sources of motivation,
where several other philosophers fabricated a debate concerning roles that emotion plays in
characterizing how virtuous a person bases choices of personalized actions. Consequently, there
are various striking contrasts which can be found among several moral, philosophical traditions
and the roles they give to emotions, particularly those evaluated negatively and positively. For
instance, utilitarianism is in most cases exhibited as a theory that articulates sympathy ideals
whereby, a morally correct action is always favored by an individual who is correspondingly
sympathetic to pains and pleasures of all emotional beings. Additionally, on an alternative level,
utilitarianism seems to predominantly evaluate actions that are highly motivated by compassion
and sympathy thus evaluating those motivated by spite and malice.
Deontology, as it is mostly referred, or rather Kantianism has an entirely distinct structure
and a distinctive attitude regarding emotions1. It depicts morality as a rational agent of selfimposed laws, and therefore, emotions are perceived to be intricate in the formulation of
regulations. Kant essentially has a pronounced role in providing an explanation of what emotion
entails bringing about the aspect of respect for the laws and rational agents. However, he designates
respect as a kind of effect within individuals of their own mysterious ethical freedom rather than
trustworthy legislation sources. As a result, emotion lies at the core of a utilitarian perception,
whereas Kantianism denies that no single emotive action can be seen as an ethical foundation.

1

Cavallar, Georg. "Cosmopolitanisms in Kant's philosophy." Ethics & Global Politics 5, no. 2 (2012): 95118.

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Therefore, to take into consideration an evaluation of specific effects, we tend to assert that actions
propelled by sympathy do not carry any moral worth and that ethically valuable motives are the
intellect of duty. Indeed, cumulatively the role played by emotion is diverse in virtue moral
tradition, which tracks back to Aristotle.
This paper will therefore generally discuss emotions, particularly moral emotions.
Characterization of compassion and sympathy will be provided as different moral emotions, which
embody particular desires and beliefs. This provides an account regarding why I think moral
emotions are valuable and should be instilled in children.
Also, philosophic...

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