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  • Created by: _alf24
  • Created on: 05-04-15 13:44


  • Hypothetical imperative:

Something you obey if you want to achieve something.

   e.g. I must revise in order to pass Ethics.

  • Categorical imperative:

Something you obey because its good in itself.

   e.g. Revise!

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Categorical Imperative

  • Universal law:

'Act only according to that maxim whereby at the same time will that it should become a universal law.'
All moral statements must be able to be universalised without exception.

  • Treat humans as ends in themselves:

'So act to treat humanity, whether in your own person or in that of any other, never solely as a means but always as and end.'
Don't use people as a way of getting what you want, this promotes equality

  • Kingdom of ends:

'Act as if a legislating member in the universal kingdom of ends.'
Every human has the ability to work out the rational moral laws, we should reason to end up with the same moral laws and then we will be in the kingdom of ends

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  • Contradiction in conception:

When a maxim contradicts itself or an existing law or nature.


  • Contradiction in volition:

When a maxim can be logically applied but makes no sense to.

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  • Kant believes we possess innate reason.

  • Reason alone will lead us to solutions for moral dilemmas.

  •  By emphasising reason alone as the key to moral behaviour he emphasises autonomy.

  • Looking to the consequences of an action means we are in danger of giving in to emotions.
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Postulates of practical reason

  • We can POSTULATE the existence of God and the belief in immortality becuase although we are inclined towards good and doing our duty this doesn't always lead to happiness in this world.
  • We can POSTULATE our freedon as we are aware of having to make moral decisions and if we were not free to make that decision there would be no decision to make.
  • We can POSTULATE that there is an afterlife where the Summum Bonum is achieved.
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  • Universal laws lead to a good society and respect for others.

  • Gives good moral principals.

  • Makes all people equal as everyone has reason.

  • It stops moral dilemma conflicts.

  • Acknowledges the problem of allowing emotions to determine right and wrong.

  • People aren't influenced by anything else e.g. the church, just reason.
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  • Treating people as an ends could be interpreted wrongly, e.g. wrong to use the services of a hairdresser or doctor.

  • Doesn't see consequences as having any part in decision making.

  • Acting out of good will may lead to disaster.

  • No room for emotion.

  • People have different duties
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