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January 7, 2014 / compassioninpolitics

Answers to Ethics/Morality–Deontology Bad Analytics Frontline

Deontology Bad Analytics

1. Deontology always collapses into an ends based view of justice because side
constraints are chosen on the basis that they secure some greater end like
pleasure. We can’t measure negative rights violations without imposing a
conception of the good.

2. Deontology violates principles of equality because it gives one person views
infinite weight when they conflict with the views of others. For instance, a
deontological system would require complete censorship of offensive material if
one person was offended or felt violated.

3. Deontology can’t adjudicate conflicting rights claims. A deontological standard
provides for impossible debate because it can’t weigh ¾tween two violations –
they’re both treated as inviolable and in such a case action cannot be justified.

4. Infinitely Regressive: Side constraints would nullify the existence of the
contemporary nation-state as projects of the government will always influence
the rights of others. Any decision will have externalities and it is arbitrary to
stop measuring violations of side constraints to avoid circularity.

5. A deontological perspective doesn’t correspond with our moral intuitions.
Deontology would argue that you would have to tell the Nazi SS that there is a
Jew hiding in your closet if asked because lying would be using one as a means
to an external gain. Side constraints must be violated when greater social
harms are in the balance.

6. Deontology does not exist. Deontology relies upon our ability to abstract some
general moral principle from what exists in the world. However, as David Hume
argues, all actions are minimally based upon self-interest because otherwise we
have no incentive to follow through with them. Therefore, we cannot generate
some universal principle and all actors are held to a universal standard of utility.

7. Means-based ethical theories provide no protection from the prisoner’s
dilemma when engaging in cooperative behavior. A system of negative rights
cannot effectively allocate scarce resources, because such restrictions can only
justify never using the resource, as to use part of the resource would necessarily
impinge on the ability of others to use that resource.

8. Infinitely regressive: deontology’s conception of a subject appeals to
rationality, but there is no bright-line to rationality. Deontology might justify
abuses to mentally diseased persons since they’re not fully rational, but might
also justify giving animals the same rights as humans if the definition of
rationality is expanded.

9. In taking an action, a rational agent states that his intent is desirable and that
he ought to purse that end. However, there is no justification for him
committing to that intent as universally desirable, because individuals can only
lay claim to their own wills, not the obligations of others to will the others’
ends. Thus, the categorical imperative is not a reasonable test of the justice of
an action.

10. Individuals are not equal under morality, because there are situations where
individuals need privileges denied to others. In times of war, it is incoherent to
claim that enemy combatants should have the same right as generals to view
classified documents, because we must draw limits to preserve government

11. There is no justification why duty generates obligations. Kant asserts that we
must look to duty because it is ‘intrinsically valuable,’ but there is no
clarification of what makes something intrinsically valuable.


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