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Kant's Categorical Imperative

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Ruby Ann Parpan

on 11 August 2014

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Transcript of Kant's Categorical Imperative

- German philosopher, was born in Konigsburg
- He entered the university there in 1740, enrolled for the study of mathematics and physics.
- After the death of his father, he supported himself by tutoring for 9 years, the kindness of a friend enabled him to resume his studies, to graduate as a doctor and to qualify as a privatdocent.
- He occupied this position for 15 years. His lectures widened from physics to include much philosophy.

Freedom and autonomy

Kant viewed the human individual as a rationally self-conscious being with "
" freedom of choice.
The second
(Humanity or End in Itself formulation
): "Act in such a way that you always treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, never simply as a means, but always at the same time as an end."

Normative interpretation
Although Kant was intensely critical of the use of examples as moral yardsticks, because they tend to rely on our moral intuitions (feelings) rather than our rational powers, this section will explore some interpretations of the categorical imperative for illustrative purposes:

-Cruelty to animals

In his Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals, Kant formulates the Categorical Imperative in three different ways:

The categorical imperative is the central philosophical concept in the deontological moral philosophy of Immanuel Kant. It is Introduced in Kant's 1785 Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals. According to Kant, human beings occupy a special place in creation, and morality can be summed up in an imperative, or ultimate commandment of reason, from which all duties and obligations derive. He defined an imperative as any proposition declaring a certain action (or inaction) to be necessary.

Kant's Categorical Imperative
Kant divides the duties imposed by this formulation into two subsets:

Perfect duty
Imperfect duty

The first (
Universal Law formulation
"Act only on that maxim through which you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law."
The third (Kingdom of Ends formulation) combines the two: "All maxims as proceeding from our own [hypothetical] making of law ought to harmonise with a possible kingdom of ends."

Normative criticism
The Golden Rule
The first formulation of the Categorical Imperative appears similar to The Golden Rule.
The 'Golden Rule' (in its negative form) says: "Do not impose on others what you do not wish for yourself."
The 'Golden Rule' (in its positive form) says: "Treat others how you wish to be treated".
Kant's first formulation of CI says: "Act only in accordance with that maxim through which you can at the same time will that it become a universal law."
Due to this similarity, some have thought the two are identical.
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