A couple of months ago, I was driving down College Road with a full car; my boyfriend was in the front seat and our two dogs in the back. As we were heading home, a dog darted out into the street and ran across all lanes. I saw him and slowed down, but a car driving on the other side of the road in the opposite direction did not, and grievously hit the dog. We saw the dog roll under the car, and then run back across the street. We were shocked, and my first instinct was to pull over to see if it needed help. The dog jumped into a car, which was his owner’s, and stayed in there crying. The owner was stunned and didn’t know what to do because it was Easter and most offices were closed; I let him know the emergency vet was just a block away, found the number for him, and made sure he didn’t need anything else before I left.
I believe this is an example of Kant’s ethics. First of all, our textbook explains the concept of duty which is encompassed in good will, and how “when we act from a sense of duty…our actions have moral worth” (Shaw, pg. 57). I believe that the instinct of helping another being forms out of the “formula of humanity” that Kant included in his ideas. This formula states: “Act so that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or in that of another, always as an end, and never as a mere means” (Kant & Categorical Imperatives). All of this wraps back around to ethics revolving around having empathy for another human. Universal acceptability can also be a way of explaining this example simply by following the golden rule: treat others how you would like to be treated.