Philo 171
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 CABRAL Questions for the Third Exam

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PostSubject: CABRAL Questions for the Third Exam   Sun Mar 29, 2009 11:23 pm

1.Existentialism and even postmodernism, and their derivatives which are existentialist ethics and postmodernist ethics, respectively, arose as reactions to traditional/modernist ethical theories, a prominent example of which is the Kantian ethical theory. Existentialist and postmodernist ethicists argue that “morality robs a person of personal autonomy and freedom, consequently depriving him of true accountability and responsibility, eventually leading to a failure in morality.” How may you defend Kantian ethics against these criticisms? Is there a way we can resolve the apparent conflict between Kantian ethics on the one hand, and existentialist and postmodernist ethics on the other? Discussions should focus on concepts of freedom, autonomy, responsibility, accountability, and the general idea of what it means to be a moral person.

2. After careful considerations of the various ethical theories/views we discussed, what “personal moral system or code” can you come up with and which you can adopt? Be sure to talk about the values, precepts/ideas, and other elements that should comprise this “personal moral system or code”. Include your conception of freedom and accountability in this given moral system and your view of what it means to be a moral individual.
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Cabral, D.R.

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PostSubject: Re: CABRAL Questions for the Third Exam   Mon Mar 30, 2009 9:45 pm

Question #1

Kantian Ethics do not deprive in any way a person of his freedom or liberty, in addition that a Kantian is not bound to mere duty alone. The principles of Universality, Humanity and Autonomy underscores all considerations Kantians have to define what constitute what is “moral”.

The Principle Of Universality tells us that if we can envision a world wherein everyone operates under the principles or maxims from which our actions are grounded upon, then that must be something truly moral. This may well be a big clarifier that Kantians are free to choose, from a million many, how to live a life. Also, this freedom laid down before us comes at the price of being responsible and accountable for the choices we make. Kant's principle of the unconditional directive to do something (out of duty)- Categorical Imperative, may lead one, as existentialists or postmodernists, to believe that Kantians are merely guided by an imposed, restricted, stringent and singular way to be “morally right”. However, it merely reminds us of the fact that we are most free when we are most disciplined- free from the shackles of the instincts and inclinations that enslave us, or the whims and impulses that we find ourselves tangled into when we don't give something much thought, without being the rational and logical beings we actually are (and ought to be). Kantians believe that we can rise above our design- that human nature may have limitations and deficits (by being whimsical, swinish, at times), by being able to decide for ourselves to follow a duty (out or veneration and reverence for it), for which we may find unpalatable or despicable for our own preferences, but are willing to do nonetheless. Moreover, as individuals with faculties for reasoning and rationality, deemed able to foresee what consequences or implications that may arise as a result of our actions and the choices we make, we are made responsible and accountable. With great power- a highly unmatched cognition above all forms of life, an entity still evoking a sense of wonder to the seemingly all-knowing fields of scientific thought- comes great responsibility.

The Principle of Humanity states that a person must not be treated as a mere means, but most importantly, an end in themselves. This being said, Kantians value the sanctity of human life, that we are not emotionless automatons who operate under a crude system of cause-and-effect, and therefore, must be accorded such respect and wonder that may give further emphasis to the belief that we are indeed active agents in morality. Kantians value the interests of the individual, for the theory in itself looks into differentiating a praiseworthy action (something done that coincides with duty, but not as an outpouring for the respect of duty) and a act with true moral worth (done out of deeply- rooted observance of the duty's importance). A person may do something praiseworthy, or on the other hand, a truly moral act- but he is not in any way constrained to follow a single route. Indeed, he is still given the choice in how to live his life. Treating others as means may be instrumental in the completion of a duty, but Kantians respect the choice, freewill and life prospects of a person treated as such; thus, expect Kantians to weigh matters in such a way, that something “good” as following a duty using a person as a vessel to carry it out shall be overpowered by something “greater” as the unfailing desire to recognize the person as an autonomous being. In this sense, Kantian principles do not merely imply being duty-bound. It extends the spheres of responsibility of accountability from how a person submits to duty, to how his response in duty- boundedness would affect others (who are as autonomous and as free) as well.

The Principle of Autonomy emphasizes the point that we are really autonomous entities, capable of springing forth a new chain of events. We are active legislators and followers in a kingdom of ends. This means that as we ourselves make our own rules and decrees to shape our notion of morality, we are also subject to the carefully and fearfully formulated laws by others' who partake in this kingdom. We are free constitute our own system of nomenclature for the “morally worthy”, but in the process of its formulation, we are reminded that we are responsible for affirming these values; consequently, it is but natural that we live up to them. Moreover, we are made accountable by the fact the kingdom of ends gives us a healthy dose of “pressure” and “pleasure” in legislating. While it is true that we are called to obey our own ruling, we are made aware that the community of Kantians are also bound to obey such rule, and so our own conception of morality encompasses such a wide scope that it is but necessary to examine what for us is a “true moral act”. Others are as free as we are, and given the same responsibility of making moral laws for which they must be accountable to bear the results that it would incur; this, I, believe, makes the world a better place to live in- where everyone recognizes their autonomy would act carefully and thoughtfully with the global implications in mind.

Question #2

I have always believed that human beings are the most fascinating of all creatures ever created, or even conceived. In addition, I have always had an unparalleled respect for the potency of humans to create a world- after their own “image” (which, reminds me, of how He made clay and mud in His own likeness). As such, I accord to human a certain kind of awe, salutation and fear; for me, humans are free, and must be, accountable.

While it is true, that the world in general is characterized by maneuvers of luck, of gargantuan probabilities and possibilities, of chaos and and randomness, of patterns and guides- which may tell us that our lives are beyond our control, I really don't buy into so much melodrama and hopelessness. What I do believe is that, we are lords, masters and rulers of our own selves, and to this extent, are we are in full control. I am not dreamy or naïve not to recognize that the world exerts a powerful influence in many outcomes and circumstances, and these render us pessimistic about the madness of the world or may petrify us to inaction or apathy. However, I always think that our selves are too wide and too powerful a dominion to rule, and i believe that it overrides the capacity of the environment to dominate us. We are free- free to the extent that we can control what happens within us and to us, what thoughts we entertain and develop, what feelings we choose to succumb or relish, what beliefs we advocate and shout out. We are not free- to think that hapless beasts at our mercy are our equals, to believe that life is merely cause-and-effect, sprinkled with misery and sealed by doom, to say that we not free, in the strictest sense and full meaning of the word.

Freedom makes us assume responsibility. This makes us not run way from the price we have to pay, and this empowers us to make well thought- of decisions and guidelines as we go through the dilemmas we face. I don't want myself to fall into the trap of attributing what happens in my life to external forces, for I feel that this is cowardly and lackluster at best, and this somewhat bastardizes our our birthright as autonomous beings. As humans, I just feel that we are better than that- for we can shape our lives in the best possible way we can, maximizing what is dealt by a limiting environment, because a human being's fervor and passion is ferociously contagious, incinerating whatever gets in the way, reducing the impositions of the world into cinders. The freedom I have been blessed with is not something awarded to me. It is unconditional, it is undeniable and it is ultimate. The way I see it, with so much at stake then, I am called to exhaust, by all means necessary, my intellect and wisdom. I am to envision that whatever I do affects humanity at large, and in so doing, make my liberty bear fruits. I am fully responsible for myself, who, having received much, is compelled by my inner being to give back so much more than what is expected of me, and for humanity at large, for it is a community whom I believe is misguided, baffled and downtrodden, but nevertheless capable of becoming the Human Beings they actually are, and ought to be.

In a nutshell, I believe we are god-like. Of course, this was said not to mean that we are Superman or what have you. However, we can be SuperHuman- someone you and I can relate to. Our freedom is a superpower you and I can abuse or value, but can neither be forfeited nor be denied of. Responsibility and accountability remind us that liberty is not free- for we must be willing to pay the price that comes with the choices we make and the life we live.

As far as existing ethical theories are concerned, I guess I am pretty much able to accommodate every theory that have been presented to us in my belief system.

However, one really appealed to me. I even think that it coincides and is concurrent with the belief system I have held on for so long.

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CABRAL Questions for the Third Exam
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