Essay on Kantian Ethics on the categorical imperative

  • Created by: Lottie
  • Created on: 05-05-12 16:47

Kant was a philosopher who was concerned about moral actions and he believed that to be able to act morally, we need to be free otherwise we are unable to be moral agents. His theory is deontological as he does not think that consequences are important when making moral decisions.

Kant looked at two different imperatives to explain his theory which were categorical and hypothetical. The categorical imperative is an absolute command which must be applied to everyone regardless of the consequences. It is concerned with what we ‘ought to’ to do because if we are autonomous agents we are able to turn that ‘ought’ into a ‘can’. Examples of categorical imperatives would be ‘do not steal’ or ‘do not lie’ as they are absolute and they are commands prescribed regardless of the consequences that these commands may result in.

The hypothetical imperative is the opposite as it is concerned with the consequences of actions and not everyone has to do these actions. It follows the pattern of ‘if I do Y I will get X’, so for example, if I help the lady across the road then I will get a reward. Kant did not believe


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