What are Kantian Ethics?

I was going over some writing from when I was taking a course in Ethics while attending Bible College, and I thought the information would be good discussion material.  I do not recall the source material. If anyone recognizes any of this, please let me know, so I can attribute it appropriately.

Kantian Ethics can be best described as being good is a matter of reverence to ethical duty.

Ethical duties apply to everyone in all circumstances.  Ethical duties are not based upon the opinions of any individual, group, tradition, faith, cultural norm, or even God’s will.  Moral truth stands by itself. Moral principles must be logically consistent and not result in self-contradiction.  Reason is the sole foundation for ethics, the source of right and wrong as well as the judge.  Reason gives humans the freedom to choose between options, and so is the source of human freedom, value and duty. The results do not determine whether a thing is right or wrong, the motivation does.  This system leaves out the question of “What do I want?” and takes up the question of “What is right?”.  Ethical laws are not open to negotiation.

An example of how this ethical system would resolve a problem is as follows:

Suppose an employee who works in a job where he is not directly supervised needs to take off from work to take care of his sick children. The problem is that he has no personal time to use and needs to be paid for the time taken off.  At this company, sick time can only be used for personal sickness, not that of dependents or a spouse.

Kantian ethics dictate that one has to do one’s duty.  There are conflicting duties here: to care for one’s children, to not lie, to work the hours contracted to work and to make sufficient money to pay one’s bills.  In this case, a Kant follower would try to work it out with his manager to take the time off and make it up later, or work from home. If unable to do either of these, then he would have to attempt to find someone else to care for his children or try to take off without pay. Failing being able to do either of these, he would have to either not take off or quit his job and seek a new one later, depending on the age of the children.


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