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Explain what Kant meant by the categorical imperative.

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Introduction

Explain what Kant meant by the categorical imperative The categorical imperative is a term, which Emmanuel Kant originated. The term allows us to acknowledge which actions are compulsory and which are not allowed. It indicates an absolute, an unconditional requirement that allows no exception; it is not a means to another end but to the end itself. 'All imperatives command either hypothetically or categorically. If action would be good simply as a means to something else, then the imperative is hypothetical; but if action is represented as good in itself... then the imperative is categorical.' - Immanuel Kant Kant believed that morality was dictatorial; he argued that once you acknowledge something than that bases your future actions. The acknowledgement is a reason for doing something. Kant believed that moral requirements were categorical. He stated that al moral statements were clear-cut as they order actions without thinking of consequences. There are three main principles in categorical imperatives. The first basic principle of morality is: 'let the law be the sole ground or motive of thy will' kant believed that the law had the ability of inspiring respect through reasons ...read more.

Middle

One must not carry out the action if they do not believe that all people would act that way in that situation. Kant came up with such an absolutist theory such as moral law, which allows come actions and forbids others because he believed that it would cause more harm than good and break down society. I.e., he used lying as an example; he claimed that lying was morally bad however; sometimes a little lie was acceptable, such as a white lie. Yet Kant claimed that any lie would hurt someone and even if it didn't hurt a human being it would hurt society. It would not be universalised. In a modern day scenario. There is a lady named Anne and she is married to Ben. Anne has become ill with an incurable degenerative disorder. Anne wishes to end her own life as her quality of life has become so low. Unfortunately for Anne, she is unable to do this by herself and wishes her husband (who is willing) ...read more.

Conclusion

I.e., stealing a teddy to make your cousin happy would be morally wrong even though you made the baby happy because it has made the storeowners unhappy in the process. Therefore, going back to the euthanasia example, Kant is believes then, that that human life should only be treated as an end in itself and never as a means to an end. Kant argues that suicide is using human life as a means to end the suffering that a person may be enduring. Therefore, Kant argues that suicide cannot be morally justified. The third of Kant's principle is ' so act as if you were through your maxim a law making member of a kingdom of ends.' It was vital that a moral law or statement did not treat another as an end. No actions brought on by a moral statement or law should in anyway use a human being as a means to an end. This is because you would not be able to create a maxim such as 'I can steal because everyone else does'. Saori Yoshimoto 12J 2004-01-25 ...read more.

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