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Michael Rockler

United States presidents, beginning with George Washington in his policy regarding the French Revolution, right up to George W. Bush’s decisions affecting terrorism and the war in Iraq, have had to face ethical questions of great importance. The historical evaluation of a presidency – whether or not is has been successful – is often based on the way in which the president approached moral dilemmas.

This article looks at presidential decisions in the administrations of Abraham Lincoln and Harry S. Truman. It examines how each applied both utilitarianism (which is closely related to democratic governance) and Kantian duty ethics in making significant judgments.

Utilitarianism may be understood as a commitment to the search for the common good. The first utilitarians sought to measure pleasure and pain in order to help them achieve the greatest good for the greatest number. Their goal was to maximise happiness. However, utilitarianism failed in its attempt to calculate the amount of pleasure and pain across society. This kind of assessment is ultimately too complex and subjective.

Contemporary utilitarianism abandoned the measurement of pleasure and pain in favor of a less complicated formulation based on the examination of consequences. In any given act, positive outcomes should be greater than negative results, such that there is a net positive gain for the common good. In other words, the consequences of actions must be evaluated and decisions made which lead to a positive increase of benefits for society.

In contrast, the duty ethics of Immanuel Kant can be summarized with three key propositions. First, for Kant, ethics is a rational process. Everyone must use his or her intelligence to determine what is morally appropriate, since human beings’ foremost characteristic is reason. Once an appropriate ethical stance is determined by reason, it becomes one’s duty to act ethically on the basis of what one has concluded rationally. The second Kantian proposition is the requirement that human beings tell the truth. This is the prime duty, for without it – lacking a deep commitment to honesty – human social relations cannot effectively occur. Finally, Kant identified the categorical imperative . This says that you should judge your actions as if your behavior were a model for all humanity. As part of this, Kant also argued that each person should be treated as an end in themself and not simply be used by others. He wanted people to create communities where persons were endowed with dignity and respect and would be treated as responsible, valuable citizens.


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Congratulations to @meadowfaulkner for an excellent thesis project and presentation. Her graphic illustrations paired beautifully on her dining set and table cloths, each piece imbued with a piece of her family story. Great work 👏👏👏👏#thesis #pnca #pncaillustration #pncadesignarts #graphic #graphicillustration #design #ceramics #dinnerset #familyhistory #storytelling

December 1, 2017
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✨Monday, October 30th @ 7pm, with Stacy Westbrook in the PNCA Bridgelab ✨

Don’t miss this installment of the fabulous lecture series hosted by PNCA Design Arts and @aigapnca FREE open to the public! Snacks and wine provided 🥂

#pdxevents #portlandevents #pdxdesign #pnca #pncadesign #pdxart #aiga #staceywestbrook @pncadesign @aigaportland

October 26, 2017
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ankegladnick :


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is a cool dude who makes cool music ™

October 1, 2017
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Meet illustration senior Meadow Faulkner: “initial sketching feels like pulling teeth to me at first but it’s a crucial part of my process because it creates a strong foundation to build on.” Learn more about Meadow and see her work at @meadowfaulkner #wordsofwisdom #sketching #process #designprocess #illustratorsofig #illustration #pnca #pncaillustration #sketchbook #thumbnailsketch

September 19, 2017
3 notes

Recent alum Subin Yang is all up on the cover of @portlandmercury and we couldn’t be more proud 👏👏👌. Keep crushing it, @subinie94 #mercury #portlandmercury #editorial #cover #magazinecover #coverillustration #pncaalumni #pnca #pncaillustration #pncadesignarts #femme #crafty #getcrafty #artandculture #subinyang (at Portland Mercury)

August 31, 2017
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@lili_leveque presents her thesis project in the Design Corridor today at 4:30pm. Her book, Fledgling, is an invaluable resource for young adults struggling to understand how to cope with anxiety and depression. #thesis #pnca #pncaillustration #focusweek #fledgling #depression #anxiety #teens #zine #bookarts #illustration (at PNCA - Pacific Northwest College of Art)

November 30, 2017
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ankegladnick :

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