GRADUATION!! (Grad School)

Monday, May 11

Kant and his infernal Universal Law!

For those that haven't heard me rant, I have a 7 am Ethics class. I have been heard to say that "no one has ethics at 7 in the morning". Seriously, who can even think clearly at that time. Interestingly enough, this class is quickly becoming one of my favorites. (Ten times better then the dreaded Bio class)

Today's discussion centered on Immanuel Kant. I have to admit that I struggled with the reading and his theory of Universal Law. The Prof asked that we focus on the following quote:
"Act only according to that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law."

Talk about over my head. My poor professor kept trying to explain it to me but I just wasn't catching on. I kept circling back to my understanding of Kant's statement and what I perceived he was saying regarding "willing that it should become Universal Law" My brain kept getting stuck on the fact that that there is no universal categorical imperative. In other words, there is no law or action that everyone follows with out exception. No rule that everyone agrees is always the right answer in a specific situation. Therefore, if all of our actions had to be based on the need for it to become universal law.....we would never act on anything.

Finally, towards the end of class, one of the students chimed in and I think I have finally started to get a grasp on the concepts here. Kant isn't saying that you have to act in a way that you can expect all others to act as well. I was right in thinking that there is no universal imperatives. What Kant suggests is that every time you act you should look at what the outcome would be if everyone else handled the situation the same way you did. If what you did became the norm...hypothetically, would that be good or bad for society. Then again, this seems to take things to an extremist point of view:

If I do X in this situation, what would happen if the whole world did the same thing? If the result is not good, then you can't do it.

But then if you take Kant's theory and say....
If I don't do X in this situation what would happen if the whole world never did the same thing?
What is to say that it wouldn't be a bad thing if the whole world was acting in X manner or not acting in X manner.
(I would like it noted that I wasn't the only one struggling with this reading, it made for quite a discussion as everyone had a different opinion)

Anyway.....that was today's rambling in my head. I will get a week recap up soon. It has been a fun one, despite my Bio teacher assigning me a Research paper and a presentation both due this Thursday. Now I am off to read Aristotle.....wish me luck. ;)


Amy said...

This post makes my head hurt.

Rae said...

Lol! You should try it at 7 am. ;)

Amy said...

I thought accounting was bad at 7 am but I think ethics might be worse.