Business Ethics for the 21st Century: Chapter 1 (pp. 18 - 24):

Deontology, Kant, and Rights

1. Explain the term deontology. How does deontology differ from utilitarianism?

2. Describe some historical influences (philosophical and religious) that led to deontology.

3. How would the deontological position regard individual and cultural relativism? [What is meant by universalism?]

4. How did Kant view hedonism? Explain the difference between moral reasons for acting and prudential reasons (p. 19). Explain how the same act can have more or less moral value, depending on its "motive."

Deontology and the Categorical Imperative

5. What is a maxim? Does every action presuppose or imply a maxim or rule for that particular action? Explain.

6. What is meant by an imperative? Give some examples. Distinguish categorical from hypthetical imperatives. Give some examples of each.

7. What is wrong with hypothetical imperatives? What kinds of things do they depend on?

8. What is the one fundamental categorical imperative (as opposed to numerous "subordinate" categorical imperatives)? State it as exactly as you can (see p. 20).

9. How can the categorical imperative be used to test specific maxims? What does it mean to ask whether a maxim can be universalized?

10. According to the author, if everyone broke promises, then "promises would no longer exist in such a world, and thus the making of a 'false promise' would be impossible." (p. 21) [How is this similar to consequentialism and anticipation of consequences? If we ask, "what if everyone did this?" -- does the "if...then..." imply a test of moral principles in the light of consequences?]

Deontology and Autonomy

11. What does Kant mean when he says that each person is an "end-in-itself"? How does he restate the categorical imperative to reflect this belief? [It is often called Kant's practical imperative.]

12. Does mean that human beings can never be treated as means in any way? Explain.

13. What does it mean to respect the autonomy of other persons? What is meant by autonomy? What gives humans their dignity? What is meant by self-determination and [how is it opposed to determinism]?

14. [Is lying ever justified for Kant?]

15. According to Kant, is happiness what is most important? Explain.

16. What does it mean to say that human beings have rights? How are rights related to duties?

17. How are the rights of a corporation related to corporate responsibility? Distinguish legal rights from moral rights.

18. Distinguish negative rights from positive rights. Give examples of each. What are some examples of positive rights as they pertain to workers in the workplace? Discuss the debate over the link between such rights and corporate "duty."

19. How do rights "trump" consequentialism?

20. Examine Debra's dilemma from the deontological position. Why could the action suggested by Ben not be made into a universal law?

Objections to Deontological Ethics

21. Does Kant's view seem a bit "cold" and austere? Explain.

22. [What role might empathy or compassion or love play in ethics?] How might Kant's defenders respond to this criticism of acting out of "duty" alone?

23. What are some difficulties with the categorical imperative as determining the universal moral law? Is lying always wrong? Discuss. [Can one have objectivism without universalism? Can lying be obligatory in one situation and prohibited in another?]

24. Is emphasis on rights always a good thing? How might the utilitarian regard such emphasis?

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