• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Kant and the categorical imperative

Extracts from this document...


KANT & THE CATEGORICAL IMPERATIVE: MODEL ESSAY 1 (a) "Duty should be done, simply because it is duty." Explain how Kant analysed this concept. (33 marks) (b) "Categorical Imperatives allow no room for compassion in the treatment of women wanting abortions." Discuss. (17 marks) (Part A): Kant tried to develop a theory of ethics which relied on reason rather than emotion. While he was not anti-religious, he wanted an ethical system which was not clouded by religion, emotion or personal interpretation. He placed emphasis on motives behind an action rather than, like the Utilitarians, the consequences of an action. He believed that consequences were no guide to whether an action was moral or not. His theory is known as deontological, or duty-based, where ends can never justify the means. He believed that there were general rules which must be adhered to in every circumstance. He called these absolute rules of what is good or bad 'Categorical imperatives'. These rules were rationally determinable. Individuals must never be reduced to the level that they are a convenience for the happiness of someone else. ...read more.


Not lying, to Kant, is an absolute imperative and he uses a priori reasoning to come to this conclusion. These moral rules are as reliable as mathematical proofs because they derive from first principles. Only free agents (people thinking for themselves and making their own decisions) can make moral decisions. There must be an element of choice - the choice to do good or bad. He assumed that we are all free agents. An action can only possess moral value when it is done for is own sake, for duty's sake, and not for the pleasure of the individual or in the hope of gaining specific outcomes. (Part B): Taken at face value, one could argue that "Categorical Imperatives allow no room for compassion in the treatment of women wanting abortions." This is because categorical imperatives are absolute rules which cannot be altered to suit an individual. To Kant, murder is always wrong and this would be the categorical imperative. Kant would have to be persuaded that this categorical imperative cannot be said to cover every abortion. ...read more.


If the moral rule - to end one life to save another, for example - can be universalised then compassion can be shown in the treatment of women who want abortions. If it is decided that when the mother's life is at risk abortion is allowed, it could be said that this is a principle everyone should practise if faced with this situation. It should be weighed up whether the best outcome would be achieved and whether it be the best rule if it became a general rule. If, in the case of abortion, the mother's life is saved, then this could become the general rule. An exception is not being made or an individual being given precedence over the categorical imperative, the categorical imperative itself has been re-evaluated. The scope of the categorical imperative has been narrowed. The universal, right thing to do is to kill the unborn child because it threatens the life of the mother. Compassion has been achieved although it is incidental; it does not make the action any more moral from the deontological point of view. Thus, the categorical imperative might allow abortion in some cases, but it takes no account of compassion. Andrew Bunce ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Practical Questions section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Practical Questions essays

  1. Compare Utilitarianism With Kant's Theory of The Categorical Imperative And Explain Which You Think ...

    He makes a distinction between duty and inclination - we may be inclined to act out of personal preference, but morality is universal. Also, Kant's theory is fair and treats all individuals equally - promoting an equal society - as no one person can be valued above the rest.

  2. RE euthanasia for and against

    Hospices are there to attempt to relieve pain and provide support for a patient, their family and friends. There are only about 100 hospices in the UK so it is very difficult to get a place. The three main aims of hospices are, to relieve pain, to help face death and to care for emotional needs of family and friends.

  1. Explain Kant's Categorical Imperative.

    If this were carried out, society today would become unbearable. > The Categorical imperative is morally unacceptable. Discuss! There are a number of moral dilemmas in today's world, however, the most applicable and useful for our purpose it could be argued.

  2. `Always tell the truth and Always keep your promises' Kant's Categorical Imperative.

    It is characterised by the word 'if'. So, for example, 'If you wish to gain praise you must behave in a creditable fashion'. Kant puts it thus: 'If the action is good only as a means to something else, then the imperative is hypothetical' (Fundamental Principles, p.31).

  1. A. Explain what Kant meant by the categorical argument. B. Asses Kant's claims critically ...

    According to Kant the only thing that is good without reason is the good will. A good will is good in itself, not just for what it produces. Courage, health, and wealth can all be used for the wrong purposes Kant argues, and therefore cannot be "intrinsically" good.

  2. Kant and the Categorical Imperative

    itself with in this world and that we will instead be rewarded in another. He said that moral statements are a priori synthetic; knowable before sense experience, but requires sense experience for verification. In his book Critique of Practical Reason, he wrote 'Two things fill the mind with ever new

  1. The use of the Categorical Imperative makes no room for compassionate treatment of women ...

    The unborn, potential human would not be allowed to be used as a means to an end, and would have to be treated as an end in itself. The mother could not use the unborn baby growing inside her as a means to an end (by freeing herself of it),

  2. People should always do their duty. Explain how Kant understood this concept.

    A good example of this is in Star Wars, when the Jedi aren't meant to use emotion in their decisions as this will lead to evil. In Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals (1785), Kant outlined the 5 different forms of the Categorical Imperative.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work