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Kant's Axe

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"If a sinister-looking man carrying an axe knocked on your door and asked where your best friend was, would it be morally acceptable to tell a lie?" German philosopher Immanuel Kant's opinion throws a spotlight on the differences between deontology and utilitarianism, explained in this video by BBC Radio 4.

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Immanuel Kant, born in 1724, is one of the preeminent philosophers of the 18th century. The German thinker wrote prolifically, including the famous work A Critique of Pure Reason (available online from Project Gutenberg), and lectured widely on topics throughout the social sciences. 

BBC Radio 4 has produced several other videos discussing philosophy, viewable on their playlist. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy is a comprehensive online encyclopedia containing terms and definitions pertaining to many different schools of philosophical thought.

Yale's Professor Tamar Gendler speaks about deontology and Immanuel Kant in this lecture from her Philosophy and the Science of Human Nature class.

Just as Kant is inextricably linked with deontology, British philosopher John Stuart Mill is linked with utilitarianism (the philosophy that actions should be taken to maximize happiness). For more information about utilitarianism, read J.S. Mill's Utilitarianismavailable online from Project Gutenberg.
Try asking your friends and family the question posed at the beginning of this video. If the man with the axe was at your door, how would you react? 

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