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Explain Kant's ethical theory with particular reference to the categorical imperative and how it can be applied.

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Introduction

Explain Kant's ethical theory with particular reference to the categorical imperative and how it can be applied. A deontological theory of ethics is based on the idea that an acts claim to being right or wrong is independent of the consequences of that action. This view stands in opposition to teleological views such as utilitarianism, which if something is right or wrong is dependant on consequences of the action. Kant's theory is deontological because it is based on duty. To act morally is to do ones duty , and ones duty is to obey the moral law. ...read more.

Middle

Kant felt that he had to act in a certain way. He was aware of the is/ought, the difference between something being a matter of fact, and something that is regarded as an obligation. He therefore concluded that what is good and what is bad should begin with good will. In his book, Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals (1785), he argues the highest form of good is goodwill. To have a good will is to do ones duty. To do ones duty is to do the right thing, obligatory and not to perform what is forbidden. ...read more.

Conclusion

by which you can at the same time will that it should become universal law", a person's actions would become a law applicable to everyone. "Act that you treat humanity, both in your own person and in the person of every other human being, never merely as a means, but always at the time as an end." This means that humans play an important part in any moral equation. "Act as if you were through your maxim a law-making member of a kingdom of ends", Kant believed humans should behave as though every other individual was an 'end'. humans are capable of autonomous moral choice-making. ...read more.

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