May 9, 2013 · 7:00 PM
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TOPIC: The Philosophy of Immanuel Kant
Immanuel Kant was a very influential German Philosopher whose thoughts have very much shaped modern philosophy, and even law. He is most notable for what he called the "Categorical Imperative" which, stated simply, can be thought of as "it's not okay for me to do something if it would be contradictory or undesirable for everyone to be able to do so." If universality produces a contradiction, then he would say we have a perfect duty to oppose said action as immoral. If universality merely produces an undesirable outcome then we would have an imperfect duty to oppose said behavior.
This robust philosophy manages to work very well in a wide range of applications. However, like many moral philosophies, things get strange around the edges. Kant, for instance, valued human reason as the only attribute worth moral consideration. That is, he didn't believe in animal rights. Furthermore, his philosophy relies heavily on the idea of consent due to the fact that any formulation of "it is permissible to do x to you without your consent" would be contradictory and not all human beings are capable of giving informed consent (infants consenting to baths comes to mind).
Does the categorical imperative work well enough to be considered a universal maxim?
Where does it fail?
Can Kant and animal rights be reconciled?
Can we know the will of another well enough to not be morally paralyzed by Kantian ethics?
Location and Price:
This meetup will be just outside the cafe in Half-Price Books (near the fish tank and crystal display). There is also a suggested (but by no means mandatory) $2 donation to help cover the cost of maintaining this meetup group.