Good Will & Duty
Dissimilarly to Bentham's Utilitarianism, In the search for intrinsic ‘good’, Kant did not believe that any outcome was inherently good. Pleasure or happiness could result out of the most evil acts. He also believed there were no such thing as inherently good characteristics as intelligence, courage and ingenuity could all be used for evil. In fact, he used the term 'good' to desrcibe good will. He defined this to be acting in accordance to one's duty. He believed that using the reason within, one could assert one's duty.
An imperative is a statement of what should be done. It has been previously stated that Hume realised a 'should' statement cannot be produced from an 'is' statement. In other words, experience may only provide us with HYPOTHETICAL IMPERATIVES (If you want to be healthy, you should exercise) A description of the way the world IS cannot tell us the way it SHOULD be.
A Categorical Imperative is a should statement, but it is not based on experience, and doesn’t rely on a particular outcome. Rather, it logically precedes experience, or helps us make sense of experience. In another area of thinking, Kant showed that we must presume that time moves forwards – our mind imposes this on our experiences to make sense of them. We therefore could never demonstrate or prove this through experience.
It is like that with the categorical imperative: certain actions are logically inconsistent and would make no sense as universal laws, such as lying. As a result, ‘Do not lie’ is a categorical imperative. This understanding that our mind plays an active role in ordering and shaping our experience was revolutionary, and is Kant’s greatest achievement.
Categorical Imperative: Universalisability
The first and most famous is referred to as the Formulation of the Law of Nature. Kant states that one should, "act as if the maxim of your action was to become through your will a universal law of nature." By this Kant is not simply giving us a rule to live by but a way to decide which rules should be adopted to be adhered to out of duty. Kant is aiming to ensure that we eliminate self-interest from our actions. The practical implication of the first form of the Categorical Imperative is that we should only do things if we could logically conceive of everyone else acting in the same way. This way, acting completely rationally, argues Kant, enables us to develop a good will .
Categorical Imperative: Ends and Means Principle
The second formulation of the Categorical Imperative is known as the Formula of the End in Itself and is stated thus: "act in such a way that you always treat humanity, in your own person or in that of any other, not simply as a means to and end but as an end in itself." Kant is directing us to a moral way of life in which everyone is treated with equality and as an important and valuable part of society. It can never be right, he argues, to deal with someone as you would deal with machinery or an animal, to achieve your own ends. The moral person will deal with each individual as and end in themselves.
The Categorical Imperative: Formula of the Kingdom
The third formulation of the Categorical Imperative is known as the Formula of the Kingdom of Ends it requires one to, "act as if you were through your maxims a law making member of a kingdom of ends." Kant envisages a rational society in which every member acts as if their contribution to moral law were part of a law making process. As Kant argues his Categorical Imperative is based entirely on logic he believes that all members of the society would come to the same conclusions about moral law because they are all working under the same rational law.