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Immanuel Kant: The Categorical Imperative

Page history last edited by cAmz 13 years, 11 months ago

 

TITLE: Contemporary Moral Problems: The Categorical Imperative (Chapter 7)

AMAZON LINK: http://www.amazon.com/Contemporary-Moral-Problems-James-White/dp/0534584306

QUOTATION: “Act only on that maxim through which you can at the same time will that is should become a universal law”

LEARNING EXPECTATIONS:

-          I want to understand the concepts about categorical imperative.

-          I want to learn the different issues on goodwill.

-          I want to determine the different aspect incorporated to good will.

REVIEW:

In this section, Kant stated that it is impossible to conceive anything at all in the world or even out if it, which can be taken as good without qualification, except goodwill. Without the principles of good things it may become exceedingly bad; and the very coolness of scoundrel makes them not merely more dangerous but also more immediately more abominable in our eyes than we should have taken them to be without.

According to Kant, human beings occupy a special place in creation, and morality can be summed up in one ultimate commandment of reason, or imperative, from which all duties and obligations derive. He defined an imperative as any proposition that declares a certain action (or inaction) to be necessary. A hypothetical imperative compels action in a given circumstance: if I wish to quench my thirst, I must drink something. A categorical imperative, on the other hand, denotes an absolute, unconditional requirement that asserts its authority in all circumstances, both required and justified as an end in itself.

Kant concludes that a moral proposition that is true must be one that is not tied to any particular conditions, including the identity of the person making the moral deliberation. A moral maxim must have universality which is to say that it must be disconnected from the particular physical details surrounding the proposition, and could be applied to any rational being. This leads to the first formulation of the categorical imperative:

·         "Act only according to that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law."

Kant divides the duties imposed by this formulation into two subsets: perfect duty and imperfect duty.

 The free will is the source of all rational action. But to treat it as a subjective end is to deny the possibility of freedom in general. Because the autonomous will is the one and only source of moral action, it would contradict the first formulation to claim that a person is merely a means to some other end, rather than always an end in his or her self.

On this basis, Kant derives second formulation of the categorical imperative from the first.

·         "Act in such a way that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, always at the same time as an end and never merely as a means to an end."

The second formulation also leads to the imperfect duty to further the ends of ourselves and others. If any person desires perfection in himself or others, it would be his moral duty to seek that end for all people equally, so long as that end does not contradict perfect duty.

WHAT I HAVE LEARNED:

-          I learned the aspects incorporated with goodwill.

-          I become more familiar with the categorical imperative.

INTEGRATIVE QUESTIONS:

  1. What is Categorical Imperative?
  2. What is good will?
  3. What are gifts of fortune?
  4. What does the character portrays?
  5. What are the grounds of principle?

 

REVIEW QUESTIONS: 

1.       Explain Kant’s account of the good will.

 Kant stated that it is impossible to conceive anything at all in the world or even out if it, which can be taken as good without qualification, except goodwill. Without the principles of good things it may become exceedingly bad; and the very coolness of scoundrel makes them not merely more dangerous but also more immediately more abominable in our eyes than we should have taken them to be without.

 

2.       Distinguish between hypothetical and categorical imperatives. 

According to Kant, human beings occupy a special place in creation, and morality can be summed up in one ultimate commandment of reason, or imperative, from which all duties and obligations derive. He defined an imperative as any proposition that declares a certain action (or inaction) to be necessary. A hypothetical imperative compels action in a given circumstance: if I wish to quench my thirst, I must drink something. A categorical imperative, on the other hand, denotes an absolute, unconditional requirement that asserts its authority in all circumstances, both required and justified as an end in itself.

 

3.        State the first formulation of the categorical imperative (using the notion of a universal law), and explain how Kant uses this rule to derive some specific duties toward self and others.

Kant concludes that a moral proposition that is true must be one that is not tied to any particular conditions, including the identity of the person making the moral deliberation. A moral maxim must have universality which is to say that it must be disconnected from the particular physical details surrounding the proposition, and could be applied to any rational being. This leads to the first formulation of the categorical imperative:

·         "Act only according to that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law."

Kant divides the duties imposed by this formulation into two subsets: perfect duty and imperfect duty.

4.        State the second version of the categorical imperative (using the language of means and end) and explain it.

 The free will is the source of all rational action. But to treat it as a subjective end is to deny the possibility of freedom in general. Because the autonomous will is the one and only source of moral action, it would contradict the first formulation to claim that a person is merely a means to some other end, rather than always an end in his or her self.

On this basis, Kant derives second formulation of the categorical imperative from the first.

·         "Act in such a way that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, always at the same time as an end and never merely as a means to an end."

The second formulation also leads to the imperfect duty to further the ends of ourselves and others. If any person desires perfection in himself or others, it would be his moral duty to seek that end for all people equally, so long as that end does not contradict perfect duty.

 

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: 

1.       Are the two versions of the categorical imperative just different expressions of one basic rule, or are they two different rules? Defend your view.

I think it is one basic rule because in the categorical imperative it is just concerning about the content in which it is not really certain difference in rules. If you will accept a case whether you know or not you will accept it because in any sense you still need to do it in which you will have same approach still you will be alleged.

 

2.       Kant claims that an action that is not done from the motive of duty has no moral truth. Do you agree or not?

 I agree to it because in any sense you did not do a task because you are considering it as a job.

 

3.       Some commentators think that the categorical imperative can be used to justify nonmoral or immoral actions. Is this a good criticism?

 I do not think it can be considered as a good criticism because not at once you can say what that object thinks of it. You cannot criticize someone easily because you know what it contains. I think there are still different factors to consider before criticizing issues.

 

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