Kant's Categorical Imperative - Important Points

A quick summary of Kant's Categorical Imperative. Hope that this is helpful.

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Kantian Ethics
Good Will ­ Morality is based on acting with a good will. This requires acting out of duty. The
act must be done out of no self interest or be done out of self gain this would be immoral.
Duty ­ This requires acting out of a sense of moral obligation. It is acting according to set
absolute moral rules. Kant said that these rules are established via reason, by using the
Categorical Imperative. It is therefore out duty to follow the Categorical Imperative.
Absolutism ­ The moral rules that are established are absolute. They can not change and apply
to everyone. No one is exempt.
Objectivism ­ Moral laws are based on pure reason alone. They are right or wrong
independent of human opinion.
Deontological ­ It is based on the act itself. The consequence is not even considered.
Intrinsic Good ­ Only good will is intrinsically good. Happiness is also good as it comes as a
result of good will.
The Categorical Imperative
The Categorical Imperative is to only act in such a way that you are making absolute laws of
nature. Categorical Imperatives tell us what we "ought" to do, regardless of what the outcome
may be. This is opposed to Hypothetical Imperatives.
Hypothetical Imperatives tell us what we "should" do in order to achieve a particular end.
The Categorical Imperative has three formulas:
1) The Formula Of The Law Of Nature/Universability ­ The proposed maxim must
be able to be universalized. This mean that it must be able to be applied to everyone
without a flaw in its logic.
2) The Formula Of End In Itself/Humans As Ends ­ All humans are to be treated as
ends. Due to having the ability to reason, we are all of equal value. No one is to be used
as a means to an end.
3) The Formula Of The Kingdom Of Ends ­ The final formula as that one must act as if
"you were making laws for a kingdom of ends". This means that when you are making
laws you must question whether it would fit in an ideal society. This basically means that
you must question whether it would fit into a civilized society.
Having the Will ­ In order to have a successful maxim you must have the will for it to be
universalized. This means that you must actually will for the proposed action to fit into society.
You must also question whether the action would be reached through the reason of others. If
you do not think others would reach the same conclusion then you should not permit that action
as there may be a flaw in reason. This is tied in with the formula of the law of nature.
Moral Statements ­ "A priori Synthetic": This means that moral statements are discovered
through reason, however they may be wrong or right.

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Summum Bonum ­ This is the highest good which Kant argues we all naturally aim for. By
following the Categorical Imperative we are working towards the highest good.
Autonomy Of The Will ­ This holds that in order to act moral we must have freedom and be
capable of exercising it.…read more


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