Instigator / Pro
11
1583
rating
17
debates
73.53%
won
Topic

Kantian Ethics vs Utilitarianism

Status
Finished

All stages have been completed. The voting points distribution and the result are presented below.

Arguments points
3
3
Sources points
4
4
Spelling and grammar points
2
2
Conduct points
2
2

With 2 votes and same amount of points on both sides ...

It's a tie!
Parameters
More details
Publication date
Last update date
Category
Philosophy
Time for argument
Two weeks
Voting system
Open voting
Voting period
Two weeks
Point system
Four points
Rating mode
Rated
Characters per argument
30,000
Required rating
1500
Contender / Con
11
1707
rating
39
debates
71.79%
won
Description
~ 363 / 5,000

BOP is evenly shared.
Pro will argue for Kantian Ethics.
Con will argue for Utilitarian Ethics.
Free will is assumed.

The crux of the discrepancy in these moral theories is the focus on consequences in determining the moral value of an action.

The judges should look to determine which moral theory is more persuasive.

I hope this turns out to be a fun debate!

Round 1
Pro
DEFINITIONS

A Priori (Knowledge) - knowledge that is acquired independently of any particular experience
A Posteriori (Knowledge) - Knowledge that is acquired from observations or experiences
Pure inquiry - inquiry for A Priori knowledge
Empirical inquiry - inquiry for A Posteriori knowledge
Duty - A moral obligation or responsibility
Rational Beings (Persons)- An individual with the capacity to use reason
Maxim - Subjective principle for volition (the reason you do something)

__________

  If there was a universal moral law, and I was motivated to act according to a sense of duty to it, what would that look like?

  Thank you Undefeatable for accepting this debate. I was inspired to create this debate after reading "Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals." Most of the ideas that will be expressed by my side relate to that book. I hope I do it justice. Ethics is the study of what we ought to do. To answer the question of "how should we act," we must understand the structure of ethical discussion and decision making. 

There are 4 levels of ethical discussion:
1. Particular case
2. Area rule - a rule that applies to an area of ethical responsibility
3. Overall principles - principles that apply to every area of responsibility, entire moral life
4. Basis of which upon those principles rest.  

  In Kant's case, the principle is the categorical imperative. But before we arrive here, we must establish some important ideas:

  •   The good will is the only thing that is good without qualifications - the good will is good in itself. Taken just in itself, it is to be valued more highly than the satisfaction of any preference it could achieve. It sparkles like a jewel even in the darkest of situations, regardless of how fruitful it may be. 
  •   The proper use of reason is to create a will that is good in itself, rather than good as a means.

  When making ethical judgements, there are two sources of input:

1. Empirical
2. A Priori principle
(I.e. "stealing is wrong" has the empirical description of the act, known as stealing. And the concept of wrong is the A Priori principle.)

  Thus, there is an A Priori principle that is applied to factual situations. This A Priori principle is the categorical imperative.

  In addition, Kant makes a distinction between categorical imperatives, and hypothetical imperatives:

  • Hypothetical imperatives - oriented to ends/inclinations. Are not unqualifiedly good.
  • Categorical imperatives - without qualification, tells you what's right.
(I.e. Hypotheticals are typically "if-then" statements. Maxims like, "If I shortchange my customers, then I will lose business," or, "If I save this baby, I'll be a hero" are examples of hypothetical imperatives. A categorical imperative is universal, such as, "don't lie" or "don't steal." They are A Priori principles that we apply to factual situations.)

Kant formulates the categorical imperative in three ways (three and four are usually grouped together), that are all essentially the same idea:

  1. Universalizability principle
  2. Principle of respect for persons
  3. The autonomous will



UNIVERSALIZABILITY PRINCIPLE

  This principle was formulated in three or four ways in the book, but because they are so similar, I will list only  one here:

  • Act as though the maxim of your action were to become, through your will, a universal law of nature.
  This principle can apply to any maxim for moral action. (I.e. Suppose I need money and I want to ask my friend for money, claiming I can repay; but knowing I cannot. I can universalize the maxim "lie to get what I want" and observe the contradiction unfold: If it were the moral norm for people to lie whenever they want some end, then trust for persons would not exist. Because trust for persons is necessary for lying to be successful, then we are left with a world where lying is impossible. "If everybody can lie to get what they want, then nobody can lie to get what they want" is a blatant contradiction; that is to say the maxim, when universalized, contradicted itself. Therefore, "lie to get what I want" cannot be a categorical imperative or a moral law.)


PRINCIPLE OF RESPECT FOR PERSONS

  This principle is a reformulation of the previous one, but the transition is a little muddy, so bear with me. The principle reads thusly:

  • Always treat persons as ends in themselves, rather than mere means.
  Essentially, this is a reformulation of the first principle, because it universalizes the maxims for using people as mere means. Now, does this mean that trade and commerce are unethical? This is where we must make a distinction between "mere means" and "mutual means." Mutual means is consensual and can be universalized, whereas using someone as a mere means cannot be universalized without contradicting itself. Persons are to be considered as ends in themselves, because they are the end setters. Without persons to set ends, there would be no ends. 


THE AUTONOMOUS WILL

  With this formulation, the autonomous will is contrasted against the heteronomous will:

  • Autonomous Will - Will governed by itself
  • Heteronomous Will - Will governed by another
  Kant argues that the will is acting heteronomously when it is a slave to desire; that one is acting more like an animal in this state than a Rational Being. The will is only acting autonomously only when it is guided by Reason, out of a sense of duty.  Building on this idea, there are two kinds of duties:

  • Perfect duties - Duties that can be completed in a single action (i.e. duty not to murder, not to commit suicide)
  • Imperfect duties - Cannot possibly be completed in a single action (i.e duty of self-improvement, helping others, etc.)

__________

CONCLUSION

  In conclusion, Kant lays out a theory of Ethics that determines what's right by whether or not reason permits the action's maxim. Motive is paramount in this theory, and Reason alone can guide us to moral law, A Priori. Because a universal, guiding principle of morality can only be established through reason, via weighing the coherence of maxims, then the actions that have moral worth are those done out of a sense of duty to the moral law.

  I will address the flaws of Utilitarianism after my opponent presents their case.
Con
I. Lack of Clear Decision

The core problem of Kantian ethics lies in its inability to tell you what you *should* do, only what you should *not* do. The Universalism test only tells you we shouldn't do something when we reach a logical contradiction. But there may be multiple actions where, no matter what you do, you reach an impasse and it becomes impossible to know what is the correct decision. The vagueness of "goodwill" clashes with the idea that you must evaluate the consequences within universalism. For example, let us say I have goodwill to learn computer programming to improve goodwill thinking. But others' will clash against mine. Under universalism, everyone learns programming. Terrorists would want to try to hack into NASA and use the programming for malicious means. Despite my goodwill, and others being completely irrelevant to my personal decision, Kantian ethics may dictate that me--or even more generally, everyone--should not learn to program, because it will result in a contradiction. But if I do not learn programming, with everyone having never learned to program, computers cannot exist. Our world would go back to the older ages where communication was slow, countless companies would go out of business due to lack of online interaction, and the coronavirus would stilt the entire world. So should we learn programming, or not? Kant doesn't know. This leads to my second argument.

II. Everything in Moderation

It seems ridiculous that Kant asks us to visualize what would happen if *everyone* did something. This is impractical as there is nearly no law that would be safe when you apply to all people in the world. There are always specific extenuating circumstances and situations where you must consider everything around you to resolve the problem. It is commonly said that if everyone gave to the poor, there would be no poor to give to, causing a contradiction with Kantian ethics. It seems more reasonable with Utilitarianism considering your actual impact on the people to determine if you did good, or did wrong. As Mill believes, "good action is proportional to the greatest good it may produce". Utilitarianism is more flexible, hence allowing Act Utilitarianism to tell us two different actions in two situations. Kant would have us act the same way no matter what is at stake because the action itself would somehow be "moral" or "immoral". This leads to my third argument.

III. Lesser vs Greater Evils

Unfortunately, Kant gives us a dichotomous view of the world. Something is either moral or immoral, despite the contradiction laid out in point I. Utilitarianism offers a balance that allows us to weigh ideas against each other. For example, Kant might say that killing and lying are both immoral, but when it decides between the two, you would likely find him out of ideas. Kant is not sure whether there are lesser or greater evils. But clearly, the merely logical contradiction cannot tell us how moral or immoral something is. For example, physical pleasure is one of the lower goods in utilitarianism, while your life is a higher good. You would rather save a life rather than merely have sex with someone. On the other hand, everyone having sex is not contradictory, and neither is everyone saving lives. Kant can't tell us which is more significant.

IV. Universalism is Utilitarianism

I already noted how universalism is consequentialist but here I will show you why the logical contradiction highlights that Kant is vouching for utilitarianism. Look at the proposed situations-- there is hardly any difference compared to utilitarianism. If everyone lied nobody could trust one another and even utilitarianism would note the detrimental effect and say not everyone should lie to each other. Or if everyone stole from one another there is no "greater good"; therefore it's pointless to have everyone steal from one another. The assessment of whether the world is worse for wear sounds a lot like "assessing the consequences" to me. The universality test would fail itself when pitted against intentions! Pro must point out why Universalism is not Utilitarianism to prove it superior, otherwise, they are the same and equally persuasive.

V. Consideration of Motivation

Utilitarianism's goals may seem ironic as "good" is not truly defined, but it also looks within what we desire. Instead of merely thinking of doing something because you desire it as Deontology states, Utilitarian wants to achieve it. Why is this important? Well, based on universalism itself, if everyone attempted to avoid something but it failed because it was a self-fulfilling prophecy, then this is a contradiction. Deontology is left gawking at what else to do. Utilitarianism resolves the problem by thinking about all the possibilities and what is gained in each situation. Indeed, even in non-contradictory cases, there is a huge difference between universalism giving everyone a toy doll and giving everyone a cruise to wherever they wish. Universalism does consider whether people want something or not, but utilitarianism thinks further ahead, weighing motivation against each other. There may be small contradictions, but we must accept these, as humans are flawed and will always make mistakes. Nevertheless, in utilitarianism all acts will generally result in a net happiness if followed through, while minimizing suffering. If we ignore universalism due to being contradictory, then Deontology may end up with many problems within a worse world, thus, we end up following utilitarianism anyways.

VI. Consideration of persons

Another flaw of universalism is resolved through utilitarianism. While once again universalism considers *everybody*, which is still ridiculous, utilitarianism is more realistic and only consider those actually involved in the problem. For example, let's say we have 100 shareholders in a small business. Utilitarianism would think about how each shareholder individually may impact the business when investing and tossing aside the stock. We are considering the status quo and able to flexibly think about timing and situation depending on who is giving more or less money. Universalism unrealistically considers that all 100 shareholders would either invest or toss away simultaneously. Both are horrific. If all shareholders toss in their money with no one to sell, then the stock market crashes, as no one has money left to buy more and no one will sell it. If everyone sells the business, other potential investors might think the business is going out -- why else would all the shareholders seem to give up? And the problem is that the business still goes into depression. As you can see, universalism is nonsensical. In no situation would everyone act the same.

VII. Intuitive nature

How many times have you heard your parents say "this is what is good for you"? Indeed, how would someone else know from their will, what you desire? Under utilitarian nature, Mill would think about what the parents have to gain, and yourself as well. But despite your worries and your problems, Kant would say not to worry so long as it is not "logically contradictory". This is severely counter-intuitive. Good is good, this is self-evident. But the logical contradiction is very easy to avoid. Kant could argue that parents have authority and obligation over the children. It is fine to ground them. It is fine to take away their phone and privileges. Even if all parents committed corporal punishment, while the child is still under the care of the parent, there is no logical contradiction, as the fear of the power and pain still prevent the child from acting out. We don't know how far ahead Kant thinks. Does he consider the fact that the child may be more rebellious in the workplace? Influenced by violence to instill more violence on their children? Commit crimes now that they have been freed from potential abuse? In contrast, Utilitarianism considers all of these. It looks as far ahead as possible and thinks of the actions most likely to resolve the problem. Maybe it's too risky to use corporal punishment under circumstances. Maybe there are better methods. Utilitarianism is easier to follow and a better moral system.

Conclusion: Kantian ethics are very vague and ill-defined. Universalism fails itself and is basically utilitarianism. On the other hand, utilitarianism is realistic and looks at the practical application of your actions and ideas that realize themselves. It's evident that utilitarianism is superior to Kantian ethics.
Round 2
Pro
  Thank you for you response. I will defend my side, and then attack Utilitarianism. The Categorical Imperative is concerned only with moral actions; decisions of right and wrong. These supposed problems my opponent mentions with the Kantian Theory are nothing more than common misconceptions.

__________

Clarity of Decision

"The core problem of Kantian ethics lies in its inability to tell you what you *should* do, only what you should *not* do."
  The first formulation is a limiting formulation, meaning, it tells you what you cannot do. But the second formulation informs how you, as an individual, should be treated. As such it is the positive, "should" formulation my opponent requested.

" The vagueness of "goodwill" clashes with the idea that you must evaluate the consequences within universalism. For example, let us say I have goodwill to learn computer programming to improve goodwill thinking. But others' will clash against mine. Under universalism, everyone learns programming. Terrorists would want to try to hack into NASA and use the programming for malicious means. Despite my goodwill, and others being completely irrelevant to my personal decision, Kantian ethics may dictate that me--or even more generally, everyone--should not learn to program, because it will result in a contradiction. But if I do not learn programming, with everyone having never learned to program, computers cannot exist. Our world would go back to the older ages where communication was slow, countless companies would go out of business due to lack of online interaction, and the coronavirus would stilt the entire world."
  My opponent doesn't say what about "good will" is vague. Also, his examples do not actually refute Kantian Ethics or the principle of Universalism. They break down into two separate examples:

  1. Person learns programming to improve good will thinking. But terrorists use it for hacking. This means that universalism cant universalize actions.
  2. Person does not learn programming because of the terrorists. But universalize not learning programming, then computers aren't gonna work or exist.
  Notice that both of these are examples of Hypothetical Imperatives, not Categorical Imperatives. In these examples, the first problem is that the decision to learn to program isn't a moral decision. Secondly, the decision is being made, not on the universalizability of the maxim of moral action, but instead on the result of universalizing the action itself. Thirdly, these are decisions being made on the basis of the desirability of the outcome, not the application of moral principle.

__________

Maxims for Moral Action

"It seems ridiculous that Kant asks us to visualize what would happen if *everyone* did something. This is impractical as there is nearly no law that would be safe when you apply to all people in the world."
  This is another example of universalizing action, rather than the reason for moral action.

"There are always specific extenuating circumstances and situations where you must consider everything around you to resolve the problem."
  If one recalls my framework from the beginning, I laid out that the "particular case" is only the first level of ethical discussion. Kant seeks determine the principles that apply to all cases, on the foundation of Reason alone.

"It is commonly said that if everyone gave to the poor, there would be no poor to give to, causing a contradiction with Kantian ethics"
  This isn't a contradiction, it would just solve the problem of there being poor people. Also, this isn't necessarily a truism.

"Unfortunately, Kant gives us a dichotomous view of the world. Something is either moral or immoral"
  There are maxims for moral action that can be applied as A Priori moral principles, or they contradict themselves when universalized. While dichotomous, it is not falsely dichotomous, nor is it as simplistic as my opponent lays it out. This is not contested.

__________

Another Misconception

"The assessment of whether the world is worse for wear sounds a lot like "assessing the consequences" to me."
  Here my opponent lays bare, his fundamental misunderstanding. The application of the first formulation doesn't consider the consequences beyond what would undermine the maxim of moral action. It doesn't matter if a world where everyone lied would suck or not, or be uncomfortable, but that the maxim, if willed to be a universal moral principle, would contradict itself. Utilitarianism weighs only the consequences, and not the maxims.

__________

Further Rebuttals

  First my opponent states:

"Utilitarianism's goals may seem ironic as "good" is not truly defined..."
  But later says:

"Kantian ethics are very vague and ill-defined..."
  However, I have tried to be very clear on my definitions, so I encourage my opponent to specify which word he would like me to define more clearly.
____________________

SECTION 2: UTILITARIANISM

  Utilitarianism, being a wholly consequentialist theory of ethics, is predicated on cost-benefit analysis.

"good action is proportional to the greatest good it may produce".
  One of the best examples of why Utilitarianism falls short is the Ford Pinto Case. Utilitarianism has to put a dollar value on human life to conduct a moral decision in this case. The Ford Pinto had a gas tank in the back, that when struck at around thirty mph or so, would ignite and kill or maim the passengers. There was a small piece the company could install to prevent this. To determine what to do, they employed a cost-benefit analysis. Cost of lost lives to the company vs. cost of installing the safety equipment. Ford priced human life at $200,000, which I'm sure many would jump to say is too low (or too high for some). 

" Based on the numbers Ford used, the cost would have been $137 million versus the $49.5 million price tag put on the deaths, injuries, and car damages, and thus Ford felt justified not implementing the design change.[1]"

  So, how does Utilitarianism make this decision based only on the amount of good produced. Good for whom?

  Secondly, while Kant gives us the means for determining categorical imperatives of morality, Utilitarianism can only grade moral actions arbitrarily based on cost-benefit analysis. So, while Kantians and Utilitarians may arrive at conclusions like, "don't lie," Utilitarianism cannot speak to moral law, because it's very flexibility as a theory of ethics means that qualifiers can change what's moral. This means that utilitarianism fails on the level of moral principles, which Kant gives us the tools to identify. Moral decisions In Utilitarianism are always going to be hypothetical imperatives, because the moral value of an action is determined in Utilitarianism by the satisfaction of it's ends or inclinations. The perceived good of lying or not lying determines the moral value of the action of lying in a totally situationally dependent way, constraining it to the lowest level of ethical discussion. 

  Therefore, Utilitarianism can never speak on moral principle. 

  Finally, it was stated above that Utilitarianism weighs only the consequences and not the motive. Suppose a mad scientist creates a machine that can control the weather. His intent is to hold the world hostage and become the ultimate ruler. Much to his surprise however, he flips the switch and the machine malfunctions, creating perfect weather everywhere on Earth. Crops grow like never before and humanity is launched into a golden age of prosperity as a direct result of this scientists actions. Utilitarianism would say that the scientist was acting morally. Under Kantian Ethics, the scientist's actions, although resulting in much good, had no moral worth. 

__________

CONCLUSION

  In conclusion, when it comes to ethics, Utilitarianism can never discuss moral principles, because moral action is situationally dependent; and It cannot price human life for determining what it would call moral action. Kantian Ethics however, provides the means of determining moral principles, via Reason alone. When considering actions in the realm of right and wrong, mind your motive!





Con
Clarity of Decision

Pro states that the maxim of the moral principle is different from the action itself, but fails to tell us why or how. Intending to learn to program will ultimately still result in the same contradictions in the two different worlds. He has not told us what Kant would think when it comes to the maxim "desire to learn program" or "desire to not learn program" as a universal rule.

Maxims for Moral Action

Pro repeatedly claims that maximizing the reason for action is different from the action itself, however, he still fails to remedy the problem of easily finding a loophole within universalism. For example, now I could have the reason for exterminating humanity, and everyone kills each other. After nuclear war ensues, nobody survives. I had the intention to do something and I succeeded with everyone using the same reason and achieving their goal. Yet, for different reasons, such as the value of human life and freedom, it's clear that my human-extinct world would fail Kant's ideals. Where do these reasons for actions come from? Who decides it? Pro says "goodwill". Whose goodwill? If it's a psychopath, then he could easily say he means good for the world, and after everyone dies we have no more pollution, no more ruining environments, so on and so forth. Kant would disagree here, but for unclear reasons.

Access the consequences

Of course, utilitarianism and universalism are not the same. However, by the fact that the maxim is applied to everyone, we have to see what happens in the world where this reason is applied. Due to the cause-and-effect relationship, it seems unavoidable that intentions are only a slice of the pie in Kantian ethics. If Kant was correct about reason being the sole idea necessary, he could ground intention on itself rather than the results of applying the maxim. 

Pro has dropped consideration of motivations. He has also dropped consideration of persons. Extend both arguments.

SECTION 2: UTILITARIANISM

Here pro points out that some flawed proponents of utilitarianism put a value on human life. But of course, human life is a much higher good than money. Remember that Mill argued that no amount of lower goods could defeat a higher good. After all, I cannot pay you one billion dollars to force you to kill yourself. You have no use of money after you are dead. Secondly, he points out the problem with act utilitarianism in which you can only flexibly act in a specific scenario. Here I refer to rule utilitarianism, where you always follow the same decision that will likely result in the greatest net benefit. Though sometimes it will fail, most times it will still result in good. For example, both Kant and Mill can agree to always save an innocent life, no matter how much money there is to gain otherwise. As a result, even society as a whole would be able to find some moral reasoning to follow, in addition to individuals flexibly deciding as a separate moral agent. Kant on the other hand would consider one person doing something the same as everyone doing the action. Of course, this remains illogical and unaddressed by Pro.

Pro also says that utilitarianism is morally flawed because it's possible to commit some immoral act but still be considered moral overall. I see no contradiction here. The realism of real life is that bad people often make mistakes too when they commit crimes. They can sometimes result in unexpected good. But most times it would still result in bad and Rule Utilitarianism would say that society as a whole should not do the action. It was merely in the specific case that it becomes a moral result. So you can still look at the case by case basis, advocating for the specific scenario where the coincidence occurred. You can also still impose the general rule that people should not do it. 

Since I have extra space I will stack upon another argument.

VI. Alienation of Minority/Majority

Sadly, Kant denies all actions that may be fruitless or in pursuit of something unusual. For example, he would say that the desire to be homosexual, or being homosexual, is universally undesirable. Because if everyone followed homosexual acts, we would go extinct, which contradicts our nature to survive. Yet he denies our rights and freedoms to express our different love, merely because it may fail as a maxim. So long as a majority of people are heterosexual and continue to reproduce, there is no extinction of humanity. He unacceptably oppresses the minority's actions. On the other hand, utilitarianism would support homosexual nature, as it has no harm to others, and will bring a lot of love and interconnection between humans. Though we have lost some potential people to come into the world, the good of love and social connection can potentially outweigh the potential where they were lonely and depressed without a relation.

Another example is that some people like to sit at home and just perform for their family. Most people are mediocre, and this is perfectly acceptable, by definition of mediocre. Yet Kant would try to apply this as a maxim to all people and ask us, "what happens if everyone was mediocre"? Well then, there would be few to none scientific advances, no powerful leaders to help unite the country, so on and so forth. Human progress would stagnate. So he would tell everyone not to be mediocre. But even if everyone strived to work better, it would only raise the bar, and everyone would still be mediocre. They would just be a better "mediocre". So nothing would change by following the maxim of "don't be mediocre in life", despite the contradiction formed from following the maxim of being mediocre. As you can see, what applies to a minority or even a majority completely fails when applied to Kant's maximal logic.
Round 3
Pro
  Thank you for your response. I'm assuming your use of the term "universalism" is a shorthand for "Kantian Ethics." Since I used the last round to primarily strike down my opponent's misconceptions about Kant, this round will start by building my case a little more, and end with my rebuttals.

  "A good will isn't good because of what it affects or accomplishes, it's good in itself. Even if by utmost effort the good will accomplishes nothing it would still shine like a jewel for its own sake as something which has its full value in itself." - Immanuel Kant

  Kantian Ethics is about doing the right thing for the right reason. In Kant's view there are two motives for moral action:

  • Duty
  • Inclination
  When we are pursuing some desire, or preference, we are acting out of inclination. Kant argues that the moral value of an action comes from the motive of Duty. He gives two examples to make this idea more plausible:

  1. Imagine a shopkeeper who considers shortchanging his customers. He thinks to his prudence, that if he does shortchange his customers, then his business will lose reputation and ultimately lose profits. This reasoning leads him to deal honestly with his customers and give them the correct change.
  The shopkeeper has done nothing wrong. But Kant argues that his action has no moral worth, because he did the right thing for the wrong reason. His motivation, was self-interest.

      2. Imagine that a Person has an absolutely miserable life, but recognizes the duty to preserve oneself, and therefore does not commit suicide.

  This example serves to bring into light the motive that matters for morality. The motive that matters for morality is doing the right thing for the sake of duty. The relevant motive to morality can only be the motive of duty, and not the motive of inclination.  Only when one is acting morally, out of a duty to the moral law that one gives oneself, is one acting autonomously. Only then is one's will not determined or governed by external considerations, or inclinations.  

   As autonomous beings, we should be acting out of a sense of duty to the moral law we give ourselves. The reason we should respect the dignity of persons is because we are all rational beings. The exercise of that capacity for reason makes us worthy of dignity. Since it's the same capacity for reason, it is unqualified by the particulars of circumstance. It's the same Universal capacity for reason that delivers the moral law. So, to act autonomously, is to act according to a moral law we give ourselves, exercising our Reason. Not the particular reasons we have because of circumstance, but the reason that legislates A Priori, regardless of empirical ends

__________

UTILITARIANISM:

  I argue that the fundamental structure of Utilitarianism is inadequate to determine moral action for the right reasons. The calculus may lead to moral action, but it will always be for the wrong reasons, and therefore it is inadequate and unreliable as an ethical theory.

  "Here pro points out that some flawed proponents of utilitarianism put a value on human life."
  The example is of a dollar value for human life being necessary to conduct a Utilitarian decision. The point is that the ethical theory falls flat when it comes to making actual moral decisions because "the most good for the most number" will always be focused on the satisfaction of inclinations, rather than duty. Therefore, Utilitarianism can never make moral decisions. It may make decisions that are in line with the moral law, but it will always be by flawed reasoning. 

"They can sometimes result in unexpected good. But most times it would still result in bad and Rule Utilitarianism would say that society as a whole should not do the action. It was merely in the specific case that it becomes a moral result. So you can still look at the case by case basis, advocating for the specific scenario where the coincidence occurred. You can also still impose the general rule that people should not do it. "
   Both Rule and Act Utilitarianism are derivatives of "the most good for the most number."  Act seeks to determine moral value in the framework of the particular case, and Rule seeks to determine moral value in the framework of area rules, but they are both focused on the wrong motive for determining moral value; because, the satisfaction of inclination is not where moral value lies, and neither is it in the consequences.

__________

FURTHER REBUTTALS

  1. 
Pro states that the maxim of the moral principle is different from the action itself, but fails to tell us why or how. Intending to learn to program will ultimately still result in the same contradictions in the two different worlds. He has not told us what Kant would think when it comes to the maxim "desire to learn program" or "desire to not learn program" as a universal rule.
  I'm obviously stating that the maxim is where moral value is found, this was the purpose of the "scientist example." I have already stated that "learn to program" isn't a moral maxim. It's not a moral decision so this isn't actually a refutation.

2. 
"For example, now I could have the reason for exterminating humanity, and everyone kills each other."
  This implicitly violates the dignity of persons. Therefore, it cannot be a morally good maxim. Additionally, it undermines itself because if there are no people to kill, then theres no reason to kill. This refutes the rest of my opponent's points in the related paragraph.

3a. 
"However, by the fact that the maxim is applied to everyone, we have to see what happens in the world where this reason is applied. Due to the cause-and-effect relationship, it seems unavoidable that intentions are only a slice of the pie in Kantian ethics. If Kant was correct about reason being the sole idea necessary, he could ground intention on itself rather than the results of applying the maxim. "
  Kant is often misread this way as my opponent has done throughout. That is, as being fundamentally consequentialist (the world would be worse off if everybody lied, or stole, etc.). However, the principle of Universalizability is a test to determine if a maxim corresponds with the Categorical Imperative. The reason one should Universalize their maxim as a test is to determine if they are privileging their particular needs and desires over every other Person's. The reasons for one's actions should not depend on their particular circumstances being more important than somebody else's.

3b.
For example, he would say that the desire to be homosexual, or being homosexual, is universally undesirable.
  This implicitly assumes that homosexuality is a choice, which I dispute in most cases. Also, this isn't a moral question, so ethics don't apply. And if it was a moral question, it wouldn't violate the dignity of persons because it would be an example of mutual means. My opponent has again read consequentialism onto Kant, but has failed to grasp that these consequences are A Posteriori, and a categorical imperative is an A Priori principle. So these consequences do not speak to the moral value of the maxim of moral action.

3c.
"Kant would try to apply this as a maxim to all people and ask us, "what happens if everyone was mediocre"? "
  Nope, because this again is not a moral action. Also, the way this is formulated, the actual maxim is unclear, so this is a terrible misconstruing of Kant's ideas. Perhaps my opponent will elaborate how this is a moral action and what the maxim of moral action even is in his response.

4.
Pro has dropped consideration of motivations. He has also dropped consideration of persons. Extend both arguments.
  I did not drop them. My refutation in "Clarity of Decision (Round 2)" was equally relevant to the example in my opponent's "Consideration of Persons" section: the shareholder example is not an example of a moral question. My opponent's "Consideration of Motivation" section does not attack what Kant is actually saying, but instead a straw man.

__________

EXAMPLES FOR MY OPPONENT TO ADDRESS

  1. Suppose I push someone down with the intention to hurt them, and they land on their head. But their injury causes them to become a virtuoso at the Piano overnight, making millions as a composer.
  2. Suppose I push someone down with the intention to hurt them, but I'm weak, they land softly, and there is a $100 bill on the ground where they fell that they wouldn't have seen otherwise.
  3. Suppose I'm walking down the street and I trip and fall. When I stretch out my arms, I catch a baby that fell from the third story.
  In any of these scenarios, was I acting morally? These are both examples of good consequences resulting from bad intentions, but the degree of good results does not inform one of the moral value of the action. In all examples, the moral value of the action is derived from the motive.

__________

CONCLUSION

  In conclusion, Kant lays out a framework for moral action that is rooted in Pure Practical Reason. Imperatives are "oughts." And categorical "oughts" are necessarily A Priori. The only actions with moral value are those done out of duty to the moral law that we must necessarily give ourselves in order to act truly autonomously. Measuring consequences cannot reliably convey the moral value of the action, as the examples provided in this debate have served to demonstrate. Clearly, Kant gives us the tools to determine how to do the right thing for the right reason. I await my opponent's response.
 

Con
Pro points out that Kant's ideal comes from duty, yet does not tell us where this duty comes from. His example of the shopkeeper ultimately wounds down to the actual result of his actions which ruin or help the shop (utilitarianism). He mentions a more controversial idea where everyone has the duty to preserve their lives and must never suicide. But by this logic, you should also not risk your life to protect your country, nor stand up for your friends, etc. resulting in a contradiction when put to universalism.  Pro also misinterprets Kant's stance on people's suicide, as Kant values honor higher than your own life: "No matter what torments I have to suffer, I can livemorally. I must suffer them all, including the tormentsof death, rather than commit a disgraceful action. Themoment I can no longer live in honour but becomeunworthy of life by such an action, I can no longer live at all. Thus it is far better to die honoured and respectedthan to prolong one's life . . . by a disgraceful act . . . .If, for instance, a woman cannot preserve her life anylonger except by surrendering her person to the will ofanother, she is bound to give up her life rather thandishonour humanity in her own person, which is whatshe would be doing in giving herself up as a thing tothe will of another". [source]

As you can see, the more we discuss the apparent "duties" we have, the more problems we run into. It seems more reasonable to expect that people will follow their desires, and with utilitarianism resulting in the ultimate culmination of desires, the logical world is far more likely to follow Mill's ideal than Kant's ideals. The "duty" has little to no impact if there is no reasoning to drive it forward. 

In fact, if duty is the only thing that matters, we encourage people to become robots and lose their freedom of will. We encourage them to learn nothing about the why, and only teach them about the how. But isn't the duty to keep people's liberty and freedom still yet one of Kant's ideals? Because, if nobody protected people's freedom, we justify dictators and masters ruling over slaves. By contrast, utilitarianism promises people rewards or detrimental results if people follow specific actions.

Pro claims:   The example is of a dollar value for human life being necessary to conduct a Utilitarian decision. The point is that the ethical theory falls flat when it comes to making actual moral decisions because "the most good for the most number" will always be focused on the satisfaction of inclinations, rather than duty. Therefore, Utilitarianism can never make moral decisions. It may make decisions that are in line with the moral law, but it will always be by flawed reasoning. 

Pro completely drops the idea that higher and lower goods can resolve the problem of our lives apparently being equal to dollars. He claims that the inclination rather than duty is a problem, but does not tell us why. I argue that throughout our entire survival and evolution we have followed inclination rather than duty. We have valued our personal survival because we wanted to survive, not because it is a "duty". In fact, good will arguably comes from our desires and wants. For example, I want my kid to succeed. As previously mentioned, Kant would likely think it's good to even exert corporal punishment, so long as no logical contradiction forms from following the maxims. Pro has not countered the idea that good will comes from our desires. However, if my corporal punishment DOES result in a logical contradiction, it seems more likely that this failed because of utilitarianism. The RESULT of applying my punishment FAILED to END in my good will CULMINATING together. In the end, I can cross apply my "Intuitive Nature" argument here and kill this idea. Kant says we MUST do something, because it would be good will. Or perhaps, the action displays good will in itself, and therefore we must do it. But Pro fails to answer my question of whose good will, and the "categorical imperative" is ill defined as a result.

Pro waves away programming as a moral decision, deciding to lose this contention. He has not told us whether we have the duty to program or not to program. This fulfills my point that Categorical Imperative cannot come to a clear decision about many real life actions. Voters should note this when judging the argument.

Pro tells us that people's dignity matters, but does not tell us why. He also decides to ignore the psychopath's "good will". Here I would like to ask pro, does Kant also think other animals' lives matter? 

Pro says: However, the principle of Universalizability is a test to determine if a maxim corresponds with the Categorical Imperative. The reason one should Universalize their maxim as a test is to determine if they are privileging their particular needs and desires over every other Person's.

Pro ignores the fact that testing everyone's DESIRES together *cough cough* counters the exact idea of duty and good will being the only thing necessary for Kant's ideals. He also ignores the fact that universalization depends on RESULTS, which is suspiciously similar to utilitarianism.

On homosexuality, Pro tries: Also, this isn't a moral question, so ethics don't apply. And if it was a moral question, it wouldn't violate the dignity of persons because it would be an example of mutual means. My opponent has again read consequentialism onto Kant, but has failed to grasp that these consequences are A Posteriori, and a categorical imperative is an A Priori principle.

Pro has failed to show why the A Priori defeats the A posteriori ideas. He mentions that the "mutual means" is sufficient to justify the oppression of homosexuals. I will leave it to voters to judge whether this mere assertion is enough. If Kant was correct in our duty to protect others' rights, then he contradicts himself by looking down upon homosexuals.

Pro tries to refute the shareholder scenario by saying it is not a moral decision, but fails to tell us why. I await for further clarification on how supporting or being detrimental to the business is not a moral decision.

Pro lists three examples which utilitarian persons would all say they are good actions in the specific scenario (act utilitarianism). But in general most times if you push someone down stairs they will suffer sever harm (rule utilitarianism). So we may let you get off easy due to pure coincidence for the act, while harshly forbidding violence as a society. These questions are not difficult to answer.

Pro goes in circles for this entire debate. He only has universalism to back up the "duty" perspective -- if the moral action can work as a universal maxim, then surely it should be done. And if it results in logical contradiction, then it should never be done. But he has failed time and time again to show how this is not looking at the results. Not only so, he is also disregarding the realistic perspective with desires and different ideals clashing against each other. Realistically speaking, Kant's controversial "don't lie" rule fails itself. Because if everyone was forced to be brutally honest and could never lie to each other, relationships would break due to mistakes, people would hardly interact with each other. Our world regularly speaks white lies to each other, but families and friends have survived despite such. In fact, without malicious intentions and following Kant's "good will" principle, it is entirely possible to have an entire world speak white lies without logical contradiction. If we assume in Kant's world we know everyone is laid with good intentions and dignity for others, then the sacrifice of the truth is worth it. It would be difficult to find out a lie spoken with good intentions. A good friend would understand the lie with good intentions. So even Kant's assumption and maxim lies in the evil of man. He is working with the real world and he KNOWS that people don't have good will, contradictory to his ideals. But if we universalize his rule, then why shouldn't we assume that people are already following their duty and doing good will? In fact, under the perfect universalized universe, small white lies would work fine. Parents tell fictional stories all the time. We know they are lies, but we enjoy them nevertheless. By the flaw of Kant applying his rules to the practical universe, it seems to me that he is really advocating for utilitarianism, but enforcing his own beliefs as some type of dictator himself. 
Round 4
Pro
  Thank you Undefeatable for this debate.  I have to work soon so this won't be too long.

CONCLUSION

  Moral truth must come from theoretical deduction. From the beginning we have moved from a set of true statements and deduced moral obligations. If we are to act morally then we are to act in accordance with our duty to the moral law, out of a sense of reverence for the moral law. Only when we bend our will to the moral law we give ourselves, rather than acting merely out of desire are we acting autonomously.

  The idea of Universal Moral Laws must necessarily be reasoned, since if one isn't using reason, then they are being unreasonable. Fundamentally, if one asks, "is it reasonable to use reason?" then that Person has already committed to using Reason. Therefore, Reason must be the foundation.  We use A priori theoretical deduction (Pure Practical Reason) to deduce from our set of truth statements, a moral imperative. Since it has been demonstrated through force of example that moral value is derived from the motivation of a moral action, then a motive that is in line with the autonomous will is a logical necessity. Additionally, a motive is necessary that is not in violation of the restrictive qualifier of being a "maxim that could be willed into a universal moral law"; that is to say, without undermining its own reason for volition. And finally, the motive must be one that treats rational beings the way they ought to be treated; that is, with their innate dignity respected. This innate dignity comes from the quality of being able to use Reason.  Any motive of moral action that is motivated by anything other than duty, is motivated by inclination. Inclination seeks to satisfy some end by its own nature. Since the consequences are not where moral value lies, then any motive of inclination is necessarily either amoral or immoral. That leaves only the motive of duty. Deductively, duty is the correct motivation. Furthermore, acting out of a sense of duty to the moral law we give ourselves ties perfectly with Kant's idea of true autonomy. One is only acting autonomously when they are choosing freely; but, a slave to desire is not choosing freely. One must will over their wants to respect their duty that they give themselves in order to be truly autonomous.

  We have demonstrated conclusively that cost benefit analysis is completely inadequate to make moral decisions. Consequentialist reasoning can never determine moral value by looking at the consequences of a moral action, because moral value isn't held in the consequences, as many examples have demonstrated. Since Utilitarianism is completely consequentialist, it can never determine moral value. While it may stumble into the right answer sometimes through the calculus, it will always be for the wrong reasons. Utilitarianism cannot put a price tag on human life when the calculus demands it. My opponent states rather, quite arbitrarily, that human life is a higher good than money. By whose standard? John Stuart Mill's? While I agree that human life is usually worth more than money, the people at Ford didn't make that assumption because if they did, their company would have to be willing to go bankrupt to save even a single human life. Now, if Ford went belly-up, then many many workers would have been out of a job, unable to feed their families. How can a Utilitarian possibly conduct a moral decision here when not every cost can be calculated and/or the calculus is human life vs. human life? Utilitarianism is inadequate to make moral decisions in every aspect.

  In the end, my opponent's arguments have all boiled down to misunderstandings and misreadings of the subject matter.  

FINAL REBUTTALS

1.
"...If, for instance, a woman cannot preserve her life anylonger except by surrendering her person to the will ofanother, she is bound to give up her life rather thandishonour humanity in her own person, which is whatshe would be doing in giving herself up as a thing tothe will of another"."
  This reads to me that he was simply stating that if any person is put in a position where they have to be a slave to the will of another against their will, then death is preferable. And frankly, I thinks that's right. At least I know I'd rather die than be a slave until my back breaks.

2.
"...Categorical Imperative cannot come to a clear decision about many real life actions...."
  Categorical Imperatives are necessarily applicable to the empirical input of ethical judgements. So this is a null point, and based on a misunderstanding of what a Categorical Imperative actually is. They tell you what's right without needing to be qualified by circumstance.

3.
" ...So we may let you get off easy due to pure coincidence for the act, while harshly forbidding violence as a society."
  Here my opponent has unknowingly contradicted himself. He claims that good action is equal the to amount of good produced. So under act Utilitarianism, example 1, and 2 are all morally good actions. But under Rule Utilitarianism, violence is condemned by society as a rule, rendering it's moral judgement of example 1 and 2 as morally forbidden actions. The two brands of Utilitarianism my opponent has brought forth contradict each other. This further substantiates the fact that Utilitarianism will only every stumble into correctness about moral action, because it is looking in the wrong place.

4.
 In fact, under the perfect universalized universe, small white lies would work fine.
  My opponent touts a strawman here, based on his not understanding of the qualifiers of moral imperatives. 



Vote Pro!
Con
Pro has essentially dropped everything except for a "moral grounding". Taking a step back, we realize that Kant's application of the Universalism theory to real life rationalization has little to no difference than consequentialism. The problem with Kant's ideals is that no matter what we cause, there is always something that is right and wrong. Throughout all the dilemmas I proposed, Pro has found trouble answering the moral decisions. In contrast, Utilitarianism is able to come up with a decision and bite the bullet on the outcome. Even while punishing people for rules that would generally decrease utility, utilitarian's are also able to make up for having a good result.

In real life, we apply utilitarian theory much better than Kantian ethics. For example, murder is a great crime, but within self-defense it is far more justified. Our different circumstances give rise to different contexts that subtly change, regardless of motivation or intentions. Utilitarianism's grounding is far more reasonable than Kantian ethics. And for that reason, vote for me.