Once Again: What Is Kant’s Ethics?

Who is Kant? What is his ethics? Why is it relevant for our life? This course revisits the backbone of my courses titled “Ethics in Focus”. More specifically, by incorporating my unique expertise in the knowledge of how Kant takes apart parts of the philosophy of his predecessor and then reconstructs his own philosophy out of these parts, in this course we learn the usefulness of the methods of close textual reading and the history of philosophy. Familiarising ourselves with these methods, we will be in a position to access and offer solutions to contemporary ethical issues.

This class will be delivered online via the online platform Zoom. Enrolling students need to ensure they have an email, a reliable internet connection, microphone/speakers and access to a tablet, smartphone or computer.

SUGGESTED READING

Required readings are listed below. Copies will be distributed throughout the course.

  • Baumgarten, A. G.: Ethica philosophica [Philosophical Ethics], 3rd ed. (Halle, 1763) [As there is no translation of this work into a modern language, I will provide my own].
  • Baumgarten, A. G.: Elements of First Practical Philosophy (Bloomsbury, 2020).
  • Kant, I.: Metaphysics of Morals (Cambridge University Press, 1991).
  • Kant, I.: Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals (Cambridge University Press, 1997).
  • Kant, I.: Critique of Practical Reason (Cambridge University Press, 2015).

COURSE OUTLINE

  • The methods of close textual reading and the history of philosophy: What is close textual reading? What are the advantages and disadvantages of this method compared to other methods in philosophy? What is the history of philosophy? What are the advantages and disadvantages of this method compared to other methods in philosophy? What do all these methods mean to ethics? Why is Kant relevant in this context?
  • The categorical imperative: The most famous theory in Kant’s philosophy which you might have learned previously (if any) might be the categorical imperative. What is it and why does it attract many objections? Is it a useful theory to think about contemporary ethical issues?
  • What is duty? Admitting that there are some categorical imperatives we ought to abide by, why are these imperatives binding? Kant explains the bindingness of these imperatives by the concept of duty. What is it and how it is similar to or different from the same concept we use in our daily life? How is Kant’s theory of duty useful for thinking about contemporary ethical issues?
  • Perfect and imperfect duties: According to Kant, while there are some duties that that we ought to abide by without exception, which are the categorical imperatives, there are also other kinds of duties that we ought to aim at, but the violation of which is not necessarily culpable. What is the crucial difference between these kinds of duties and what are the examples of each? How is this distinction relevant for thinking about duties today?
  • Duties towards oneself and others: Kant devises the distinction between duties towards oneself and duties towards others. How are they different? Traditionally, in philosophy prior to Kant, there had been another category, namely duties towards God. Why does Kant omit this category? What does this omission mean for thinking about ethical issues today? Is the distinction between duties towards oneself and others sufficient? Or is this distinction even unhelpful today?
  • What have you learned? What have you learned about Kant’s ethics? What do you think are the benefits of the methods of close textual reading and the history of philosophy? How much have you been convinced about the applicability of these methods to thinking about contemporary ethical issues?

PLANNED LEARNING OUTCOMES

By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  1. Understand some of the major theories and debates in Kant’s ethics.
  2. Understand and analyse arguments in the relevant literatures.
  3. Evaluate these theories and arguments critically.
  4. Develop their own views and arguments through consideration and analysis of the views and arguments presented in the course.
  5. Engage constructively and respectfully with the views and arguments of others, even if they disagree with them.
$192 Limited / $173

<p>Who is Kant? What is his ethics? Why is it relevant for our life? This course revisits the backbone of my courses titled “Ethics in Focus”. More specifically, by incorporating my unique expertise

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03 May

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