Kant's Ethics


The purpose of this assignment is to get you acquainted with Kant's Moral Philosophy. Please follow the instructions as written below.


Follow the link below to listen to a 15 minute podcast on the essentials of Kant's moral philosophy by noted philosopher and teacher Nigel Warburton. You will probably have to listen to the podcast a couple of times, as Warburton speaks quickly. Once you have listened through it, complete the questions given below. Write the answers as you would for any of our standard reading assignments, and follow the same rules for formatting, etc.. Bring this assignment with you to class with you on Tuesday, April 15. We will discuss it, and everyone's paper will be collected. This will be a credit/no credit assignment. Review the Assignments Page if you don't remember what that means.

You will find that the questions also serve as a template for taking notes on the podcast, so you may want to have them ready to hand while you listen. Though there are many you will find that the answers to them are shorter than the answers to our usual questions. You can also use the supplementary materials at the bottom of the page for extra help.

The Podcast

"Kant on Ethics" by Nigel Warburton

The Questions

1. What matters most in Kant's ethics, according to the podcast?

2. Compare and contrast Kant and Aristotle on virtues like courage.

3. What did Kant think about consequentialist moral theories, like Mill's Utilitarianism?

4. What is prudence? How is acting in accord with prudence different from acting in accord with duty?

5. What does Kant say about those who lack compassion but act out of a sense of duty? Why does he say this?

6. If it isn't virtues or consequences that ground the moral worth of any act, according to Kant, then what is it?

7. What is the difference between categorical and hypothetical imperatives, according to Kant?

8. What is the first formulation of the Categorical Imperative? How does Warburton explain it?

9. Kant holds that maxims that accord with the Categorical Imperative are rational and universalizable. Warburton uses the example of promising to illustrate these properties. Give another and explain it thoroughly.

10. What is the second formulation of the Categorical Imperative? How does it connect with the idea of the autonomy of persons?

11. The third formulation of the Categorical Imperative is that of the Kingdom of Ends. Summarize Warburton's explanation of this third formulation.

12. How does Kant think of the relationship between emotions and morality? How is this different from Aristotle's position on that relationship?

13. How does Kant's approach to morality contrast to that of John Stuart Mill?

14.What is the first criticism of Kant's ethics that Warburton discusses? Explain this criticism in as much detail as you can.

15. How does Warburton think that the idea of a responsibility for animal welfare provide a counter-example to Kant's moral theory?

16. The second criticism is based on the role emotions play in Kant's ethics. What is the heart of this objection? How do you think that Kant might answer this objection?

Supplementary Materials

Click here to return to the Course Plan and Assignment Schedule.

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