Difference in Kantian ethics between immoral actions and actions in conformity with duty
One example: Suppose the captain of a ship has experienced a ship wreck in a storm in the ocean. Now, the captain is unable to save some people who are stuck in an area of the kitchen. Now, it’s the captain’ duty to save all lives before de-boarding the ship. But actually, this is impossible. So, he decides to stay on the ship and better die instead of leaving those people behind. According to Kantian’s ethics, it would be totally immoral to kill oneself, but dutifully and morally the captain of this ship may be correct.
Formula of humanity
Kant’s formula of humanity stated by Kant is widely accepted as “principle of humanity.” It states that
“Always treat a human being (yourself included) as an end, and never as a mere means.” Treating anyone “as an end” means treating that person with the respect he/she deserves.
Treating “as a means” mean dealing with a person to achieve one of your goals.
Robin Hood’ actions
Robin Hood was a utilitarian. So, his ideas would never match with Kant, who was totally against utilitarianism. Robin Hood’ basic ethical principle stated: “to steal from the rich and give to the poor.” Although the act of stealing is immoral, helping the poor with that money is a moral act.
According to the Kant’s formula of humanity, human beings are qualitatively different from other organisms. Thoughts and actions performed by human beings should be respected. In Robin Hood’ perspective, human beings are merely being identified as a means (one human forcibly acting as a means to help the other human). Therefore, Robin Hood’ actions are immoral according to the formula of humanity.
Kant regarded basic moral values as absolute. And they should never be broken as a universal law, even if breaking results in better results.It would always be bad to violate the principle of humanity according to Kant. Violation of the principle may give better
It would always be bad to violate the principle of humanity according to Kant. Violation of the principle may give better results, but it’s not always about results but it’s all about maxims and free actions. Violations may give better results in future; but one should focus on past actions, for evaluation purpose. If one person violates the principles one time, others will take benefit of these actions in the near future. Then the concept of ethics will become totally irrelevant.