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Formula of Universal Law

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Yu-hwa Sharon Song PHI 1700 TTH 11:10AM-12:25PM Essay #2 Explain Kant's Formula of Universal Law, and provide a detailed example of your own to illustrate how the Formula of Universal Law works. Do you think the Formula of Universal Law works as a method for deriving universal moral laws? What, in your opinion, is the best criticism of the Formula of Universal Law? Kant's Formula of Universal Law branches from categorical imperatives, which according to Kant, is what makes morality. In order to understand the Formula of Universal Law, we must first briefly define what categorical imperatives are. Moral statements can only be expressed in command forms, so categorical imperatives are commands that disregard what you want. A person's predispositions don't matter. It is unconditional and does not contain an "if" clause for a command is naturally absolute regardless of what you want or don't want. On the lines of being absolute and unconditional Kant wanted a structure based on that and thus, came up with the Formula of Universal Law. ...read more.


Kant strongly stresses that all human beings are rational. Rationality necessitate for people to be impartial and consistent so you should be able to apply the same rule to yourself and other human beings and vice versa. Because of this, he knows that no one would be able to get away with morally bad actions because he/she would not be willing to universalize it. For example, if the maxim was, 'I ought to steal', I wouldn't want to universalize it because I wouldn't want it to be okay for anyone to steal from me. Therefore, I would not be able to perform nor even want to perform this action under Kant's Formula of Universal Law. This system of morality at first glance seems very simple and sensible. It's almost like saying, "Don't do something you don't want others do to you." In my opinion Kant's Formula of Universal Law help avoid people from becoming hypocrites. ...read more.


So which one? The question here that still remains unanswered by Kant's Formula of Universal Law is, how do you exactly put limits? Of course one can argue why not just universalize the maxim "I, a human being, ought to ..." so that we can say "Everyone human beings ought to..." but this generalization would be dangerous and insensible. Perhaps you want to universalize the maxim "I, a human being, ought to save someone inside a burning building" and thus get the maxim of "Every human being ought to save someone inside a burning building." This means that those who don't save people from burning building is morally a bad person, but this is unfair. What about those handicapped human beings who simply cannot do so due to physical complications. Are they really morally bad people because they physically couldn't save someone? We can't generalize to the whole, and we can't be too specific because it defeats the whole purpose of being able to universalize it. Hence, Kant's Formula of Universal Law is a great attempt to morality but is flawed. ...read more.

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