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Deonthology

The term deontology comes from the Greek word deon, meaning duty and
science (or study) of (logos).
The theory of deontology states we are morally obligated to act in accordance
with a certain set of principles and rules regardless of outcome. In religious
deontology, the principles derive from divine commandment so that under
religious laws, we are morally obligated not to steal, lie, or cheat.

We are still addressing the question of HOW we should be moral

What is the opposite of Utilitarianism?

Deontology
An approach to ethics that judges the morality of an action based on the rightness or
wrongness of the action itself, not on the consequence of the action.

The morality of the action is also based on a strong sense of duty and following rules.

Immanuel Kant
1724 - 1804, German philosopher





What does Kant say?
In order to act in a morally correct way, people must act from duty.
The consequences of an action dont make it right or wrong. Rather, it is the
motive of the person doing the action, and the action itself that determines
whether it is morally right.

Three Categorical Imperatives formulations of Kants
The First Formulation of the Imperative
Act only according to that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should
become a universal law without contradiction. Immanuel Kant, Groundwork of
Metaphysic of Morals


Second Formulation of the Imperative
Act in such a way that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the
person of any other, never merely as a means to an end but always at the same
time as an end. Immanuel Kant, Groundwork of Metaphysic of Morals
Third Formulation of the Imperative
Therefore, every rational being must so act as if he were through his maxim
always a legislating member in the universal kingdom of ends. Immanuel Kant,
Groundwork of Metaphysic of Morals

Why cant the consequences of an action tell us whether it is right or wrong?
What are some faults/shortcomings of utilitarianism?

So how do we know whether an action is moral according to Deontology?
The Categorical Imperative

The Categorical Imperative
3-Part Test:
1. "Act only according to that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it
should become a universal law without contradiction."
2. "Act in such a way that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the
person of any other, always at the same time as an end and never merely as a
means to an end
3. "Therefore, every rational being must so act as if he were through his maxim
always a legislating member in the universal kingdom of ends."

What does this mean?
1. Only do things that you wish everyone else in the world to do too
2. Dont take advantage of other people

How is Deontology Different from Utilitarianism?
Think of the major differences between the two philosophies.


Are you a Utilitarian or Deontologist?
In the following scenarios, do you agree or disagree with the statement?
Why do you think your answer is moral?

A family of five people runs to the door of your house and says they need protecting
because a crazy man is trying to kill them. You hide them in the house. Three minutes
later, the crazy man asks if the family is hidden in your ask. What do you say?


It is absolutely necessary to help people in need. If there are starving people in Africa, it
is your moral obligation to send money or supplies.

Agent-Centered Deontological Theories
The most traditional mode of taxonomizing deontological theories is to divide
them between agent-centered versus victim-centered (or patient-centered)
theories (Scheffler 1988; Kamm 2007).

Mental-State focused Agents
On the first of these three agent-relative views, it is most commonly asserted that
it is our intended ends and intended means that most crucially define our agency.
Such intentions mark out what it is we set out to achieve through our actions. If
we intend something bad as an end, or even as a means to some more beneficent
end, we are said to have set ourselves at evil, something we are categorically
forbidden to do (Aquinas Summa Theologica).

Example

we can intend to kill and even try to kill someone without killing him; and we can
kill him without intending or trying to kill him, as when we kill accidentally

Non-mental State Focused Agents
The second kind of agent-centered deontology is one focused on actions, not
mental states. Such a view can concede that all human actions must originate with
some kind of mental state, often styled a volition or a willing; such a view can
even concede that volitions or willings are an intention of a certain kind (Moore
1993, Ch. 6)

First causings of evils like deaths of innocents
First, causings of evils like deaths of innocents are commonly distinguished from
omissions to prevent such deaths. Holding a baby's head under water until it
drowns is a killing; seeing a baby lying face down in a puddle and doing nothing
to save it when one could do so easily is a failure to prevent its death.
Second, causings are distinguished from allowings
In a narrow sense of the word we will here stipulate, one allows a death to occur
when: (1) one's action merely removes a defense the victim otherwise would have
had against death; and (2) such removal returns the victim to some morally
appropriate baseline (Moore 1993; Kamm 1994, 1996; Moore 2008; MacMahan
2003). Thus, mercy-killings, or euthanasia, are outside of our deontological
obligations
2.2 Patient-Centered Deontological Theories
A second group of deontological moral theories can be classified, as patient-
centered, as distinguished from the agent-centered version of deontology just
considered. These theories are rights-based rather than duty-based; and some
versions purport to be quite agent-neutral in the reasons they give moral agents.

Example
In Transplant, where a surgeon can kill one healthy patient and transplant his
organs to five dying patients, thereby saving their lives, the universal reaction is
condemnation. This is same with Trolley and Transplant (or Fat Man) (Thomson
1985).

Contractarian Deontological Theories
Somewhat orthogonal to the distinction between agent-centered versus patient-
centered deontological theories are contractualist deontological theories. Morally
wrong acts are, on such accounts, those acts that would be forbidden by principles
that people in a suitably described social contract would accept (e.g., Rawls 1971;
Gauthier 1986), or that would be forbidden only by principles that such people
could not reasonably reject (e.g., Scanlon 2003).