2 Answers

  1. The Kantian model of ethics as a whole is certainly not outdated – it is simply one of the possible models of ethics that can be applied to in the modern world. Moreover, Kant, with his principle of the “categorical imperative”, defines one of the main schools of modern ethics.

    On the other hand, some of Kant's specific formulations were extensively criticized during the 19th and 20th centuries. Sartre, for example, attacks the categorical imperative that the other person should always be seen as an end, not a means. Sartre rightly points out that in many situations of moral choice, we are forced to choose between several people (or groups of people), and someone's interests will inevitably be ignored for the sake of the other side.

    Imagine, for example (the example will be mine, not Sartre's), the situation that a family lives in a military conflict zone that is starving. The head of the family was able to get some bread and returns home, but on the way he meets a starving man. What should I do: give the bread to him, or take it to my family (let's say that there is so little bread that there is no point in dividing it or there is simply no time – for example, there is shelling or something like that)? From Kant's point of view, pragmatic considerations (to feed more people) or family ties (they are my relatives, so I will refer them) should not determine a moral act. Then let's try to develop a model of correct behavior from the point of view of pure morality. “Treating another person as a target” is OK, but what is it? The one you met on the street, or the ones waiting at home? It seems that whatever we decide, it doesn't work out very well.

    Therefore, Sartre would say, the categorical imperative as a source of morality does not work very well, if not at all. Kant's followers, however, would have had something to say about this, but that is a separate topic. One way or another, such criticism in the field of Kantian understanding of morality should not be ignored, of course. But the Kantian approach (and, in particular, the idea of the categorical imperative) should not be considered “obsolete” either: it, like its opponents, has nevertheless passed two hundred years of evolution.

    It was Kantian ethics, including the idea of the categorical imperative, that formed the basis for the ethical views of such modern philosophers as David Ross (1877-1971). Ross, for example, tried – and quite successfully-to solve many of the problems of Kantian ethics by dividing Kantian “moral duty” into two categories: primary duties (prima facie duties) and actual duties (actual duties). In Ross's case, we first evaluate all of our possible moral choices with T. sp. these include justice, loyalty, gratitude, self-development, non-harm, benevolence and helping others, and correcting our own mistakes), and our actual behavior, i.e., actual responsibilities, are the result of co-representation of which behavior strategy we use to achieve the greatest number of primary responsibilities. Ross's primary duties correspond precisely to Kant's categorical imperative, but Ross tried to make the Kantian approach less radical and, therefore, more realistic.

    In this sense, the discussions around the categorical imperative are the most lively in modern philosophy.

  2. Technological achievements are becoming obsolete, because scientific and technological results tend to accumulate and be passed down from generation to generation. So, for example, the horse-drawn cart is outdated, yes. And sending a paper email by courier is also not the most modern method of communication. Although if the oil cranes are shut down tomorrow and the Internet and phone are turned off, we will also ride carts and write letters.

    But philosophical ideas and psychological techniques do not become obsolete – because this baggage does not accumulate generationally, and each new generation steps on exactly the same life rake as the previous one. Wisdom is not inherited, but only mastered-I don't know, fortunately, or unfortunately…

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