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Explain Kant's Categorical Imperative.

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Immanuel Kant Laura Barrett > Explain Kant's Categorical Imperative Immanuel Kant's Categorical Imperative is another way to solve moral problems. Kant was interested that there was an interaction between sense perception and human understanding. According to Kant, the morally good man is the man of good will, and that the man of good will is the man who does his duty. An action, therefore only has moral worth if it done from duty. Duty, then, is a consequence of objective or formal necessity, but its representation by a will provides subjective incentive and reflects, or perhaps yields, the material imperative. Kant still hasn't told us where our duty lies. On the other hand Kant rejected the idea that the moral worth of an action lies in the results/consequences. This theory is teleological. In addition Kant must give a deontological theory, the moral worth of an action lies in its obedience to a particular rule or principle regardless of inclinations, self-interest, or consequences. The clearest examples of morally right action are precisely those in which an individual agent's determination to act in accordance with duty overcomes her evident self-interest and obvious desire to do otherwise. But in such a case, Kant argues, the moral value of the action can only reside in a formal principle or "maxim," the general commitment to act in this way because it is one's duty. ...read more.


This is an deontological theory as it its quite possible that, in obeying these rules, you do not promote the greatest possible balance of good over evil. Kant argues that to allow exceptions would harm someone and have consequences on society. The example above would have saved the mother if the person lied. Kant argued that a lie always harms someone, if not the liar then mankind generally, because it contravenes the source of law. If everyone were to act in this way, society would become intolerable. The second principle of Kant's is to treat humans as ends in themselves. "So act that you treat humanity, both in your own person and in the person of every other human being, nearly merely as a means, but always at the same time as an end." Kant (1785) By this Kant means, you can never treat people as means to an end. You can never use human beings for another purpose, to exploit them. Additionally he argued that we have a duty to develop our own perfection i.e. developing our moral abilities. We also have a "duty" to seek the happiness of others, as ling as that is within the law and allows the freedom of others. For example, we shouldn't promote one-person happiness if that happiness prevents another person happiness. ...read more.


Therefore, Kant argues that suicide cannot be morally justified. Conversely, in obeying Kant's law then the man of good is an implement to his reason in a moral matter and what he does is what every reasonable man would do in a similar circumstance. For example "I may steal as all others steal." If this were carried out, society today would become unbearable. Another example could be that if you borrow money of a friend and you promise faithfully to pay it back with no intention of paying it back contradicts the laws of nature because of nature. This is because if we don't honour our promises, no one would trust each other. Furthermore if this theory were carried out it would stop people seeking self-interest. In conclusion, when trying to apply Kant's theory and others like it one must ask if it is possible to give a general rule to each and every individual act or if it is necessary to know the particular purpose and context of each act before one decides its rightness or wrongness. Kant's perception skews the person's thought because each person perceives an event (whatever the event may be) differently. It is this difference in what people perceive that creates opposing viewpoints on "good" whether virtuous or not. But as I pointed out before, if the theory were carried out it would stop people seeking self-interest. ...read more.

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