Explain Kants Categorical Imperative (25 marks)

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A Question: Explain Kant’s Categorical Imperative (25 marks)

Kant’s theory of ethics is deontological. Deontology is the ethical view that some actions are morally forbidden or permitted regardless of consequences, they are either right or wrong. Kant believed that the only thing of intrinsic moral worth is good will. This means that we should do right because it is right and not for any other reason, such as satisfying our desires. In order to test a moral maxim we must use the categorical imperatives. Kant’s categorical imperatives are moral commands based on a priori law of reason and not on experience. The categorical imperative can be divided into three formulations: the universalisation of actions; the treatment of people as ends; and that one should act as if in a kingdom of ends. Through this, Kant argued that we would be able to know which actions are moral, and which are not.

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The first categorical imperative, the universalisation of actions is known as the formula of the law of nature. Kant says ‘act as if the maxim of your action was to become through your will a universal law of nature’. In other words before you act, ask yourself whether you would like everyone in the same situation to act in the same way. If not, then what you are thinking of doing is wrong because it is against reason. An example of this that Kant used is promise-keeping. Sometimes we break promises because it is easier to break a promise than ...

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