ABSTRACT

We have already seen that one way of expressing in words the difference between those who hold that the end never justifies the means and those who think otherwise is to designate the first group as deontologists (from the Greek words ‘deon’ and ‘logos’ meaning ‘understanding of duty’) and the second as teleologists (from ‘telos’ meaning ‘end’ or ‘purpose’). Another way of expressing this distinction is that for the first group certain forms of behaviour are intrinsically right or wrong, while for the second group they are so only extrinsically, or instrumentally. Kant is firmly in the first camp (some would say that he played a large part in pitching it). For him, moral behaviour contains its own imperative: it is right or wrong per se, and any attempt to criticise or defend it on the basis of consequences, or likely consequences, to which it may lead, is superfluous. Good behaviour is selfjustifying, bad behaviour is self-condemning: no other supporting evidence is required.