Centering the importance of utility as the foundation for decision-making, Kant’s ethical theory is an important framework for addressing complex moral dilemmas. In turn, the Categorical Imperative as a crucial part of the specified perspective allows dissecting major ethical problems and solving them by examining the utility of the proposed solution accordingly. In the situation under analysis, to evaluate the choice between making an effort to save the friend and risking my own life versus doing nothing and risking the life of my friend, the second and the third formulations of Kant’s Categorical Imperative should be adopted in order to define the validity of each action.
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Using the second formulation of Kant’s theory to approach the case at hand, one will need to internalize the idea of treating others exactly how one envisions the notion of humanity. In the scenario under analysis, increasing the friend’s chances to escape the danger would equate to promoting humanity. Therefore, the specified solution would imply rushing into the ocean and assisting the friend so that he could escape the attack of a shark. However, given the reality of the extent of my shark fighting skills and the probability of me doing anything that would prevent the shark from attacking my friend after it attacks me, the specified solution would contradict Kant’s idea of maximizing utility. Furthermore, if being in my friend’s place in the described scenario, I would prefer the assistance of someone capable of warding off the attack of a shark as opposed to sacrificing themselves so that I could have some time to escape.
In turn, the third formulation of Kant’s Categorical Imperative is also applicable to the case under analysis. Specifically, the specified formulation postulates that everyone must act in the way that should lead to the best outcome possible. Specifically, Kant posits that one must act as though one were a legislating member in the universal realm of ends. Applied to the situation at hand, the specified maxim implies that the positive outcomes of the possible actions must be amplified. Namely, the presumable ends of the actions to be undertaken trump the rest of the considerations. Similarly to the previous line of thinking, me rushing into the ocean is unlikely to yield a positive outcome for my friend since, even if the shark turns to attack me first, the time that my friend will have will not be enough to save himself and rush to the shore. Therefore, in order to seek the best outcome, it will be more reasonable to search for outside help of a more experienced person who could provide my friend with a greater amount of time for getting out of the ocean.
BY applying the second and the third formulations of Kant’s Categorical Imperative to the case under analysis, one will be able to elicit the inherent value of each solution and, therefore, choose the option that will help to maximize the utility of the outcome, namely, affect both my friend and me positively. From the specified perspective, the choice of doing nothing appears to be the most sensible choice to make since, without proper skills and the presence of the tools with which to protect myself, I will be putting both my friend and me in danger, while my prospects of saving him will still be questionable, which will not add to my friend’s opportunity to be saved. Therefore, remaining on the shore and, possibly attracting the attention of those who can provide more effective help would be the most reasonable and sound solution.