phi208 can acting out of a sense one’s duty be the wrong thing to do?

Help me study for my Philosophy class. I’m stuck and don’t understand.

1) THE QUESTION: Can acting out of a sense of one’s duty be the wrong thing to do? Think of an example in which someone (perhaps you) acted out of a sense of duty, even though by doing so one caused greater harm than if one had not acted, one failed to prevent harm from occurring, or one failed to bring about greater happiness. Then, explain whether you think that (a) this person was right to do that despite the negative consequences; (b) it was wrong for this person to act in this way, despite the fact that it was their moral duty to do so; or (b) this person was mistaken about what their duty really was. Be sure to back up your answer with argument and references to the text. Discuss the positive and negative aspects of deontological theory as it relates to another of the theories you have encountered in this course. (300 words)


For Forum TWO of Week Three, the idea is the same as in all Forums; apply the ‘theory’ to one practical issue listed below. You can use any version of the Categorical Imperative to apply to an issue on the list.

As always, your contribution can include a) a statement of the theory (the Categorical Imperative in your chosen form); b) a concrete example, or a statement of the issue based on some genuine information; and c) a discussion of the theory as it applies to this case. Three basic parts to your contribution, in other words, namely: the version of the C.I., the example, the application.

Here is the list of topics for this round. Again, use ONE topic in conjunction with ‘at least’ one of the versions of the C.I.

Here is the list of topics for your discussion:

a) Justice in courts: The sentencing disparity between blue-collar or minority and white-collar crimes.

b) Refugee rights

c) Cruelty to animals

d) Equal rights without regard to race, gender, or sexual orientation

e) Democracy as based on the Categorical Imperative

f) Rights of the disabled

g) Racial discrimination in hiring and/or mortgage lending

Think about which version of the Categorical Imperative might apply!

Again, there is no need to write a research paper! But it helps to do just a bit of some ‘side research’ for the issue; you don’t have to write a paper, but you should have at least some solid information available, rather than simply writing a ‘quick blog’.

P.S. Reminders of the C.I.: The first version states that one should always act in such a way that the maxim (the ‘rule’) of one’s own actions could become a universal law without contradiction, if everyone followed it. The second version is to treat other human beings always as ends in themselves (the law of ‘respect,’ we might say); and the third version is to recognize in oneself and in other human being the capacity of lawgiver, i.e., that one freely determines the ethical principles according to which one will act, as long as those principles do not impinge on the freedom of others. Hence, ‘law’ must be universal, and laws must be just, i.e., equally applicable to everyone. (300 words)

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