Fulfilling the duties we should all live by.

Lesson Objectives

Appreciate the desirability of universal ethics (absolutism)

Appreciate the difference between Ethical Absolutism & Ethical Relativism

Appreciate Kant's realization that Ethics would now arise from reason alone

Understand Kantian Deontology and why duties are central to Ethics

Understand the difference between Hypothetical & Categorical Imperatives

Appreciate why after World War II the idea of Kantian Ethics fell flat

Key Terms

Ethical Absolutism

Ethical Relativism

Universal Ethics


Hypothetical Imperative

Categorical Imperative


Autonomous Lawmakers

Deontology & the Problem of Consequences

The Search for Universal Values

Isn't Good Universal?

• The appeal to a universal good can be found in it's application

• If there's a good that everyone must follow, then it can be applied equally

• This gets rid of a lot of unjust things like favortism and discrimination

• If justice is about fairness and fairness is about equality, shouldn't laws be?

Do we not all share some values?

• All cultures generally protect their children

• All cultures generally promote truth-telling

• All cultures generally prohibit harming someone without just cause

Religious Ethics

• Insofar as religions are universal ( ...and some aren't) their ethics are as well

• The universal Christian ethics of prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance

• The unverisal Islamic ethics of caring for orphans or keeping promises (17:34)

• The universal Hindu ethic of non-violence (ahimsa)