Philosophy – Kant – Follow Guidelines
1.Do you agree that morality involves obeying universal duties and that we cannot make exceptions for ourselves if we are to act morally? Are there any situations where you think it would be morally permissible to make an exception for yourself and act in a way that you would not want/will all other people to act?
2. Apply Kant’s first and third formulations to the following case. What is the father’s duty in this situation, according to Kant?
The German Father
You are the father of a large family living in Munich, Germany in 1938. You are a philosophy professor at the local University earning a modest income. Your wife has just given birth to your seventh child, a baby girl. Because you do not earn a large income your family is just able to survive on your salary.
The German government, which is run by the Nazis, has passed a number of laws restricting the freedom of Jewish people. For some time now the German government has been deporting Jewish citizens. You are not entirely certain of what is happening to these people, but you have heard rumors, which you believe to be true, that they are being systematically murdered in concentration camps.
One evening a close friend of yours from the University, who happens to be Jewish, comes to you asking for help. He and his wife are young and have just given birth to their first child, a baby boy. He informs you that the government later this evening will be coming to Munich and will be deporting all Jewish families to concentration camps. In past conversations with him you have mentioned that your house has a secret storage compartment in the basement where you store your wine and that it cannot be found by most people. Your friend asks if he and his family can hide in your wine cellar while the Germans are searching the town and you readily agree.
That evening, while your friend and his family are hiding in your basement, German officials knock on your door. They immediately inform you that they have heard rumors that you may be hiding a friend in your home. The officials also tell you, however, that because you are a professor at the local University and have a good reputation and are trusted by many people, that they do not actually believe that you are hiding anyone. They ask if indeed you are hiding anyone and if you would allow them to quickly search the house so they can tell their superiors that they have followed-up on the rumor and have found nothing. You believe that if you lie and allow them to search the house they will most likely not find your friend and his family, but you know that if they do you will be arrested and loose your job, thus making it almost impossible for your family to survive. If you tell the officials now, before they search the house, you will not be arrested and you will keep your job, but your friends will be sent to a concentration camp.