Unit 3 Discussion

Post and respond to the following topics on the course discussion board, and respond to other students' posts.

  1. Kant's critics complain that his theory often leaves us with two conflicting duties. Imagine a student who is finishing their college degree, who learns their mother has been diagnosed with cancer. The student's first instinct is to go home to take care of their mother. However, what if their mother asks them to stay in college to complete their degree program? How would Kant advise us to choose between these two conflicting duties (to their mother and to finish school)?

  2. In the past, doctors would often fail to tell a patient the truth about a diagnosis. For example, a doctor might decide to wait to tell a patient that they have a terminal illness until after the patient returns from a highly-anticipated vacation. Many communities would consider this decision to withhold medical information from a patient to be unethical and a violation of the patient's right to participate in their own treatment. Do doctors have a duty to tell their patients the truth, no matter what, even if the information might cause them great pain and suffering (or ruin a vacation)? Why, or why not?

  3. A famous Kantian example concerns two shopkeepers. One shopkeeper always gives correct change because they feel they should do so, even when they are tempted to do otherwise. Another shopkeeper always gives correct change because they want their customers to like them so they can receive their vote during an upcoming city council election. For Kant, the first shopkeeper, who lacks an external motivation to do the right thing, is more morally praiseworthy. Does this same distinction apply to companies? Should companies always act from the right intention even if doing so may decrease their profits or market share? Why, or why not?