Solid example against Kantian ethics ?

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sun_tongsiri
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Solid example against Kantian ethics ?

Post by sun_tongsiri » October 16th, 2020, 3:48 pm

As the title suggests, I am struggling to find an easy-to-reach example of the action that proves Kantian ethics isn't always right.

[background] My friend argued that normal people always do doesn't make them right. He picked an example of the consumption of alcohol. He said that "imagine all people in the world drink alcohol at the same time, the outcome will be bad, therefore; drinking alcohol is always bad. ". I argued that alcohol is part of human life since the dawn of civilization. It is one of the recreational drink that people can enjoy together, if drink moderately, it won't cause a problem. I even criticise his method that "imagine all people drive a car at the same time, the outcome will be bad. Is driving a car bad?"

Anyway, the point is he always emphasize on using Kantian philosophy and doesn't acknowledge other philosophy of ethic such as utilitarianism. (he sometimes call utilitarianism selfish tho...)

please suggest a good example to contradict against Kantian ethics and show other form of ethic is important too.

Thank you

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Arjen
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Re: Solid example against Kantian ethics ?

Post by Arjen » October 16th, 2020, 5:00 pm

I can't. Your friend is right. Morality is the difference between good and bad in actions. And that is what Kantian ethics is all about. Plus, utilitarianism is per definition immoral. So, there you have it. You should think about what your friend has to say about that and why.
The saying that what is true in theory is not always true in practice, means that the theory is wrong!
~Immanuel Kant

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Re: Solid example against Kantian ethics ?

Post by Jack D Ripper » October 16th, 2020, 9:25 pm

sun_tongsiri wrote:
October 16th, 2020, 3:48 pm
... He said that "imagine all people in the world drink alcohol at the same time, the outcome will be bad, therefore; drinking alcohol is always bad. ". ...

Your friend is wrong. He seems to have no understanding of Kant at all. Kant, with his Categorical Imperative (do an online search for "kant categorical imperative" without the quotation marks) wanted people to universalize the maxim (rule) of one's action, not the action itself. Trying to universalize the particular action would lead to everything being wrong. For example, if my wife and I have sex tonight, I am not going to will that everyone have sex with my wife tonight. That would be impossible and horrible. What is to be universalized is the maxim, or principle, or rule, upon which my action is taken. I recommend that you read Kant's Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals (unfortunately, there is no standard English translation of the title of this short book; the German is Grundlegung zur Metaphysik der Sitten). I like the translation by Lewis White Beck:
"A wise man ... proportions his belief to the evidence." - David Hume

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Re: Solid example against Kantian ethics ?

Post by Jack D Ripper » October 16th, 2020, 9:27 pm

Just to be clear, my comments above do not show Kant to be wrong. What is wrong is your friend claiming that Kant wanted to universalize actions rather than principles upon which actions are taken. You friend shows no understanding of Kant at all.
"A wise man ... proportions his belief to the evidence." - David Hume

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Re: Solid example against Kantian ethics ?

Post by Jack D Ripper » October 16th, 2020, 9:49 pm

sun_tongsiri wrote:
October 16th, 2020, 3:48 pm
... I even criticise his method that "imagine all people drive a car at the same time, the outcome will be bad. Is driving a car bad?"

...
You are right that that is a counterexample to your idiotic friend's claim. That shows that your friend is an idiot. But it is not a refutation of Kant, as Kant did not say what your idiot friend says that Kant said.

See what I state above about the rule or principle or maxim upon which an action is based, rather than a particular action, being universalized, to get an idea of what Kant said, rather than what your idiot friend says that Kant said.

Just to keep this in perspective, I do not agree with Kant. I think he is overrated. But he was not the idiot your friend depicts him as being. He was much better than that.
"A wise man ... proportions his belief to the evidence." - David Hume

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Re: Solid example against Kantian ethics ?

Post by Arjen » October 17th, 2020, 2:37 am

@@Jack D Ripper I am guessing those are misquotes or short and garbled versions of ehat his friend said.
The saying that what is true in theory is not always true in practice, means that the theory is wrong!
~Immanuel Kant

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Re: Solid example against Kantian ethics ?

Post by chewybrian » October 17th, 2020, 6:28 am

In theory, I'm not sure there is an exception. I should take the action that I wish others would take in the same situation, with the same knowledge. I should do the best I can to follow the golden rule. But, am I qualified to make a fair judgement of which action is best?

The limitation is my understanding, and this limitation is universal. The weakness is the human tendency to suffer from all sorts of cognitive bias, such that we don't really know which action is the best, as we can't see things fairly and impartially, and we don't even know when we have enough information to make a sound judgement.

Image

Do you want lots of people making ethical judgements from the tip of "Mount Stupid" (the "I know everything" summit")? We are more likely to have confidence and strong opinions when we are not well-informed, and think that a complex issue is simple. I'm both more likely to act and to choose poorly when I am less informed than when I am best able to judge which action is best.

So, I'm not sure this qualifies as an exception, but we should be deferring to the experts in many cases where we do not. People vote confidently on issues they don't even understand, for example. If there is a solution to this problem, it seems it must involve telling people what to do for their own good, which has its own set of problems, but in theory might be better that Kantian ethics. In practice, people abuse their power and it goes badly.

People would benefit greatly from being forced to exercise, to limit their sugar intake, to quit smoking, to fund their 401k, etc. If we can't be trusted to make simple, slam-dunk decisions like this, can we be entrusted with difficult ethical decisions?
"If determinism holds, then past events have conspired to cause me to hold this view--it is out of my control. Either I am right about free will, or it is not my fault that I am wrong."

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Re: Solid example against Kantian ethics ?

Post by Sculptor1 » October 17th, 2020, 6:49 am

sun_tongsiri wrote:
October 16th, 2020, 3:48 pm
As the title suggests, I am struggling to find an easy-to-reach example of the action that proves Kantian ethics isn't always right.

[background] My friend argued that normal people always do doesn't make them right. He picked an example of the consumption of alcohol. He said that "imagine all people in the world drink alcohol at the same time, the outcome will be bad, therefore; drinking alcohol is always bad. ".
Not that would be fine.
Practically no one is going to drink alcohol all at the same time for verious reason.
1) on average nearly half the population of the world are engaged in activities that would mean they could or would not drink, such as being asleep.
2) Many would choose not to because they do not like drink.
3) Kant's CI does not enforces the same behaviour on others such offers suggestions for forbearance.
4) Drinking is not any kind of problem. Drinking to excess where bodily functions are compromised is bad, and would be bad for all. The CI applies to excessive drinking.
There is no problem here.
I argued that alcohol is part of human life since the dawn of civilization. It is one of the recreational drink that people can enjoy together, if drink moderately, it won't cause a problem. I even criticise his method that "imagine all people drive a car at the same time, the outcome will be bad. Is driving a car bad?"
I think the critique relies on "all at the same time", which is just stupid.

Anyway, the point is he always emphasize on using Kantian philosophy and doesn't acknowledge other philosophy of ethic such as utilitarianism. (he sometimes call utilitarianism selfish tho...)

please suggest a good example to contradict against Kantian ethics and show other form of ethic is important too.

Thank you
It is bad to kill.
But if the only way to protect your child is to kill another person then there is a contradiction.

All people should be honest to the police.
However a conflict may occur in a police state where unjust laws are causing the incarceration and persecution of political activists. Should you inform on them?

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Re: Solid example against Kantian ethics ?

Post by Sculptor1 » October 17th, 2020, 6:50 am

Sorry about the typos

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Re: Solid example against Kantian ethics ?

Post by Arjen » October 17th, 2020, 7:25 am

chewybrian wrote:
October 17th, 2020, 6:28 am
So, I'm not sure this qualifies as an exception, but we should be deferring to the experts in many cases where we do not. People vote confidently on issues they don't even understand, for example. If there is a solution to this problem, it seems it must involve telling people what to do for their own good, which has its own set of problems, but in theory might be better that Kantian ethics. In practice, people abuse their power and it goes badly.

People would benefit greatly from being forced to exercise, to limit their sugar intake, to quit smoking, to fund their 401k, etc. If we can't be trusted to make simple, slam-dunk decisions like this, can we be entrusted with difficult ethical decisions?
I am just guessing that this is to counter Kantian ethics?

I am just going to say: If people can't be trusted to judge: why vote? Totalitarianism seems fine...
Oh wait....power corrupts and the ones that didn't know how to judge are actually the ones that want that kind of power....

Just between you and me: The major problem with people not being able to judge has to do with upbringing. Parents getting angry over everything and not explaining things makes people unprepared. Then people pretend like they actually do know what tod o out of feeling embarrassed and stop listening in order to feel secure. The others do know how to do that. And they do know that they will make mistakes and they do know to change their opinion(s) when proven wrong. Which means that, if you want people to judge, you should trust them to judge. As of a young age. And help them to judge, with proper education and perhaps parental courses. And guess what, that is exactly how I would want to be treated if it would turn out that I am unable to judge. Which is an argument in favour of Kantian ethics!

:P
The saying that what is true in theory is not always true in practice, means that the theory is wrong!
~Immanuel Kant

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Re: Solid example against Kantian ethics ?

Post by Terrapin Station » October 17th, 2020, 11:41 am

sun_tongsiri wrote:
October 16th, 2020, 3:48 pm
As the title suggests, I am struggling to find an easy-to-reach example of the action that proves Kantian ethics isn't always right.
There's nothing aside from feeling the same way as Kant to suggest that Kantian ethics is ever right. Ethical stances aren't something one can get correct/accurate or incorrect/inaccurate. Ethical stances are ways that individuals feel about behavior.
My friend . . . picked an example of the consumption of alcohol. He said that "imagine all people in the world drink alcohol at the same time, the outcome will be bad, therefore; drinking alcohol is always bad. "
"If everyone in the world drank alcohol at the same time, the outcome would be bad" is a matter of opinion. It can't be correct or incorrect. It' s a way that someone feels about the situation. Different people will feel different ways. I don't feel the same way that your friend does. I'd have no problem with everyone drinking alcohol at the same time. (I also wouldn't say that this is even an ethical issue, but we can leave that aside for now.)

Furthermore, "X is morally bad if it would be morally bad (or disapproved of, or whatever we'd want to say) just in case everyone did it (at the same time)" is (a rather arbitrary) opinion to hold. Sure, some people feel this way, but it's just a way that one can feel. One can also feel differently, and not agree with this construction.

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Re: Solid example against Kantian ethics ?

Post by Jack D Ripper » October 17th, 2020, 11:42 am

Arjen wrote:
October 17th, 2020, 2:37 am
@@Jack D Ripper I am guessing those are misquotes or short and garbled versions of ehat his friend said.
I have encountered people before who, after hearing about Kant, think about universalizing actions rather than principles upon which the actions are taken. There is no way one would get that example about everyone drinking at the same time from an application of Kant's categorical imperative. One gets that from getting the categorical imperative wrong, and pretending that it is actions that are to be universalized. One can tell this because the example is universalizing an action rather than a principle (or maxim or rule).
"A wise man ... proportions his belief to the evidence." - David Hume

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Re: Solid example against Kantian ethics ?

Post by Terrapin Station » October 17th, 2020, 11:45 am

Jack D Ripper wrote:
October 16th, 2020, 9:27 pm
Just to be clear, my comments above do not show Kant to be wrong. What is wrong is your friend claiming that Kant wanted to universalize actions rather than principles upon which actions are taken. You friend shows no understanding of Kant at all.
Yeah, he's not capturing what Kant had in mind, but on the other hand, what counts as a principle versus not (and in contrast to actions) is hardly factual, and even if his friend captured what Kant had in mind, that wouldn't make Kant any more sound on ethics.

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Re: Solid example against Kantian ethics ?

Post by hegel » October 17th, 2020, 12:32 pm

sun_tongsiri wrote:
October 16th, 2020, 3:48 pm
As the title suggests, I am struggling to find an easy-to-reach example of the action that proves Kantian ethics isn't always right.

[background] My friend argued that normal people always do doesn't make them right. He picked an example of the consumption of alcohol. He said that "imagine all people in the world drink alcohol at the same time, the outcome will be bad, therefore; drinking alcohol is always bad. ". I argued that alcohol is part of human life since the dawn of civilization. It is one of the recreational drink that people can enjoy together, if drink moderately, it won't cause a problem. I even criticise his method that "imagine all people drive a car at the same time, the outcome will be bad. Is driving a car bad?"

Anyway, the point is he always emphasize on using Kantian philosophy and doesn't acknowledge other philosophy of ethic such as utilitarianism. (he sometimes call utilitarianism selfish tho...)

please suggest a good example to contradict against Kantian ethics and show other form of ethic is important too.

Thank you
Kant gives a story about a murderer at the door. A person comes to your house, perhaps holding a gun, asking where a particular person is. It is clear the person is out to kill this person. Kant replies that it is always wrong to lie so you should tell where that person is.

Sane people reject Kant's argument. It is not more moral to tell the truth than help someone commit murder.

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Re: Solid example against Kantian ethics ?

Post by Arjen » October 17th, 2020, 12:37 pm

Jack D Ripper wrote:
October 17th, 2020, 11:42 am
Arjen wrote:
October 17th, 2020, 2:37 am
@@Jack D Ripper I am guessing those are misquotes or short and garbled versions of ehat his friend said.
I have encountered people before who, after hearing about Kant, think about universalizing actions rather than principles upon which the actions are taken. There is no way one would get that example about everyone drinking at the same time from an application of Kant's categorical imperative. One gets that from getting the categorical imperative wrong, and pretending that it is actions that are to be universalized. One can tell this because the example is universalizing an action rather than a principle (or maxim or rule).
All we know is that either one of them misinteroreted. Due to the shortened explanation, we can't judhmge who did the misinterpreting.
The saying that what is true in theory is not always true in practice, means that the theory is wrong!
~Immanuel Kant

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