Read the assigned portions of Immanuel Kantâ€™s (2008) Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals.
Kantâ€™s text and the textbook discuss two â€œformulationsâ€ or ways of expressing Kantâ€™s Categorical Imperative, the â€œFormula of Universal Lawâ€ and the â€œFormula of Humanity.â€ For each formula, Kant considers four test cases to explain how it applies: Suicide, False Promises, Cultivating Oneâ€™s Talents, and Beneficence.
- Engage with the text:
Choose one of these test cases (it can be from either formula), and explain in your own words the reasoning that leads to the conclusion Kant defends. You should first explain the Categorical Imperative itself, focusing on the particular formula you are considering, and then carefully show how that principle leads to a particular conclusion.
- Reflect on the theories:
Would a utilitarian come to a different conclusion? If so, explain why. If a utilitarian would come to the same conclusion in this case, could there be a variation in the case that would lead the utilitarian and Kant to come to different conclusions?
- Reflect on yourself:
Do you agree with Kantâ€™s conclusion? If not, explain the flaws in his reasoning. If you do agree, and you think a utilitarian would come to a different conclusion in this or a slightly varied case, why do you think that Kantâ€™s reasoning is superior to the utilitarianâ€™s? (You may want to consult section 4.3, â€œChallenges to Kantâ€™s Theoryâ€ for help with this section).