Kant's Duty Ethics: The Case Of Volkswagen

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In recent events, James Liang, an employee of 30 years for Volkswagen, came forward admitting to using software to deceive emissions tests in the United States for Volkswagen’s diesel engines. The engines, on average, produce 40 times the legal limits on emissions. After undergoing investigation, it was found that Volkswagen had been involved in this scandal since
2006. In response to public outcry the company has recalled all models using this engine and set aside 16 billion dollars to fix their mistake. However, for Liang after admitting his guilt, he intends to help bring others responsible for the scandal to light. The consequences Liang faces for his part in the scandal are 5 years in prison and the possibility of being deported. In this
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Duty ethics or Kantian ethics focuses on the purity of the will rather than the consequences of one’s actions. Kant defines will as what animates the body. In other words the will is where the ability to choose takes place. In Kant’s theory our will can be considered good if it acts out of duty. To govern one’s actions, Kant relies upon maxims. A maxim is a subjective principle that governs action. In Kant’s view a maxim should be universal and tested using the categorical imperative.
The first method to test a maxim using the categorical imperative is to act only according to a maxim where you can will that it should become a universal law without contradiction. In addition you must act as if the maxims will become universal law through your will. The next step is determining if it is a perfect duty or imperfect duty. A perfect duty is defined by a maxim contradicting itself. For example if it was morally acceptable to lie then the concept of truth is lost. An imperfect duty is more situational in that it is something one should strive towards.
Should one not perform an imperfect duty there is no problem in Kant’s view. An example of this is the refining of one’s skills. Overall, Kant’s theory is about creating standards that
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However, for Kant this is in the form of universal maxims that people should follow.
On the other hand rule utilitarians follow a set of rules that will result in the best possible outcome. The deciding factor in the comparison of these ethical views is that rule utilitarianism is concerned with the consequences while Kant cares for the purity of the will.
Going back to the Volkswagen case, let’s take a look at Liang’s decision from a Kantian perspective. Using the first method of the categorical imperative we can determine that telling the truth is morally right as we discussed earlier. However, since Liang had been involved since the start and being called out is what brought him to confess clearly he is motivated by self interest rather than a moral obligation. With only self interest in mind Kant would determine that
Liang does not have a pure will.
Agreeing with Kant that Liang made a morally wrong choice, a rule utilitarian would argue that Liang is morally wrong for a different reason. When Liang decided to break the law that decision puts him in the wrong for rule utilitarianism. However, under the assumption that
Liang’s actions to offer assistance with uncovering other conspirators one could argue using

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