Applying an Ethical Theory
PHI 208 Prof. Emilia Sorensen
November 17, 2014
The long debated question of the importance of men and women and their roles has raged on for years. Should men and women be treated equally, that truly is the question that seems to have more answers than resolution. Applying the question to Deontology and the work of Immanuel Kant, the answer would be all people regardless of gender should be treated equally. However, these theories do not take into account the actions of the male or female in question. The question still remains, should men and women be treated equally or should it be based on the situation, all accounts will be taken into further consideration. Deontology is an ethical theory that only focuses on the act itself, not on the actions the act itself will bring about. Deontologists do acknowledge that actions bring on certain reactions but do not believe the reaction should be taken into consideration when determining if an act was moral or not. “Deontology, taken in its largest sense, is meant that branch of art and science which has for its object the doing on each occasion what is right and proper to be done “(Louden, 1996). Immanuel Kant’s categorical imperative takes this and breaks it down into rules and with these rules assumes that all people are moral. These rules have no “but” to them, they are straightforward, basically if you do this, you are moral or immoral. For example, if you kill someone, no matter if it is in self-defense or cold blooded then the person is considered immoral. This theory is not complicated and very to the point, it is easy to follow and has many supporters. Using Immanuel Kant’s’ categorical imperative to address the issue of men and women being treated equally then men and women should be treated the same. No matter if one is the bread winner and one stays at home, or if one is a high level executive and the other is a secretary. “Act in such a way as to treat humanity, whether in your own person or in that of anyone else, always as an end and never merely as a means” (Kant, 2008). A woman staying at home to take care of a household is no less important than her husband who goes to work every day and brings money into the home. They are both important to each other, one is not the others object to use as they please. This reminds me of what the teachers would say in school, treat others in the same way as you want to be treated. The theory of Deontology, although very clear and fair in deciding if an act is moral or immoral is not perfect. One flaw with this theory is that it does not look at the other side of an action. “One other classical, or traditional, theory remains; it does not look at the consequences of our acts or at the acts themselves and the rules that guide these acts” (Mosser, 2014) For example a man and a woman both work at the same company, and do the same job. Under the rules of Deontology when it’s time to give raises, they both should receive one. Many people in the working world would like this to remain true, but in normal circumstances the boss would check performance. One may receive a raise and one may not depending on their job performance. According to the theory this would be wrong, and immoral and has nothing to do with ones gender. The question of men and women being treated equally is an ethical question that can be addressed in many ways. Using the rules of Deontology by Immanuel Kant, one would say that men and women should always be treated equally no matter the situation. However, is this fair in every situation? Many times not looking at the result of an action actually causes the action itself to be unethical. The battle of the sexes continues to rage on, and the question of what is right and what is wrong is never a clear cut answer.
Kant, I. (2008). Groundwork for the metaphysic of morals. In J. Bennett (Ed. & Trans.),...
References: Kant, I. (2008). Groundwork for the metaphysic of morals. In J. Bennett (Ed. & Trans.), Early Modern Philosophy. Retrieved from http://www.earlymoderntexts.com/pdfs/kant1785.pdf (Original work published in 1785).
Louden, R. B. (1996). Torward a genealogy of 'deontology '. Journal of the History of Philosophy, 34(4), 571-592. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/210600328?accountid=32521
Mosser, K. (2013). Understanding philosophy. San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education, Inc.
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