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Critically Evaluate Whether The Main Features Of Kant’s Deontological Approach Are Too Restrictive And Fail To Be Applicable To Modern Ethical Issues, Such As Euthanasia

1268 words - 6 pages

Critically evaluate whether the main features of Kant’s deontological approach are too restrictive and fail to be applicable to modern ethical issues, such as Euthanasia.

The main features of Kant’s deontological approach are in many ways restrictive and it can be argued that they fail to be applicable to modern ethical issues. However to say that they are exempt from providing any form of solution to modern ethical issues is a failing in the understanding of his ethics. The statement itself must be broken down, particularly the word ‘restrictive’, which indicates some form of limitation in Kant’s approach, specifically towards euthanasia. This presents us as philosophers with problems ...view middle of the document...

Kant’s deontological approach starts with the idea that the only thing of absolute value is to have a good will (i.e. to have the right intentions). By using apriori reason he believes we should be able to universalise actions by applying the categorical imperative. This deontological framework of his ethic is designed to allow someone to make clear and rational decisions, while also providing both an impartial and egalitarian pathway, because by not being consequentialist, he avoids the fatal flaw of utilitarianism: bad acts can have good consequences. Therefore, the only right thing is to do what reason dictates. This, as mentioned before, makes his ethical approach cold in light of an ethical issue such as euthanasia; this is because Kant would not be interested in the level of suffering of the patient or relatives. Despite this, he would most certainly argue that through reason we could figure out what the most loving thing in the situation would be. That said, one must be precautious in universalising something such as euthanasia because if you universalize the maxim “I should help [X Person] to die” this is giving the universal maxim that everyone should be helped to die, which in itself is a self-contradiction. In creating a universal maxim, you would have to take into account the level of suffering, despite the fact that Kant negates the level of suffering as being relevant: “I should help [X Person], who is terminally ill, suffering unbearably and desperate to die, to die”, because through this statement you create a much more universally acceptable maxim such as “anyone who is terminally and incurably ill, suffering greatly and has freely chosen to die, should be helped to die.” Though, even this, creates complications. If one is to unviersalise the action to take with regard to euthanasia is it essentially infringing upon someone’s autonomy. If we forget for a moment that Kant’s ethic is impersonal, that doesn’t necessarily stop it from being flawed. Take for example the maxim like mentioned above; if we were to make it into a law of nature, in this case it seems irrelevant what the person chooses because if we choose that someone in a particular state (“who is terminally and incurably ill”) should naturally die, they would die regardless of their wishes anyway. We would not, however, be able to will this, as it is a contradiction of the will as the person isn’t the one who has chosen to die, instead we have the made the decision for them.

Kantians may disagree by arguing that this rule can be bypassed if the person has the lost the ‘will to live’ so to speak. Take for instance, the Kantian law of not treating ‘humans as a means to and end’, which, again, creates...

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