Moral Worth Kant View

Kant’s view that morality is that our actions are bound by duty and rules. Deontology as a whole is summarized by the idea that following the rules is the only path to being moral, and breaking the rules is immoral (Alexander et al.). This means that doing an action with your sake of duty in mind clearly as more moral worth than actions done without regard for ones duty. In Kantian ethics, maxims determine what one should do. “You must never steal”, is an example of one such maxim. Stealing is thus never permissible. This means that it would be more permissible for you to starve to death than for you to, for instance, take bread from a wealthy supermarket.

In other moral theories, actions themselves are morally fluid, while their results are never fluid. There is a famous thought ethics thought experiment with a forked train track with five people on one fork, and one person on the other fork. A train is barreling towards the fork with five people on it, and you have the choice to flip a switch, dooming the one person on the other fork while also rescuing the five. If you follow deontology and believe in the maxim of “do not kill”, it would not be permissible for you to pull the level to change the tracks and save the five people. If you had pulled the lever you would be directly responsible for the death of the unfortunate single fork person. I argue that in this scenario, inaction on your part directly kills the five, while saving the one. From a teleological perspective, you would be responsible for their deaths, since the end of your (in)action caused it. If your adherence to rules causes the world to become a worse place, it is clear that your rules are something that should not be followed.

Work Cited

Alexander, Larry, and Michael Moore. “Deontological Ethics.” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Stanford University, 21 Nov. 2007. Web. 01 May 2017.