Categorical Imperatives

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Ethics Essay – Kant
Explain Kant’s reasons for using the categorical imperatives. (25 marks) Kant’s moral philosophy is deontological; it rests on the notion of duty or obligation from the Greek word ‘Deon’. The argument is that we should conduct our affairs out of strict duty to the moral law. Kant wrote three major works on moral philosophy: Fundamental principles of the metaphysics of moral, Critique of practical reason and the metaphysics of morals. Kant formulated the categorical imperative in three different ways: The first (universal law formulation) “Act only on that maxim through which you can at the same time will that is should become a universal law” In other words whatever moral law (maxim) you chose to adopt, would it make rational sense for everyone to adopt it as well? If so, then let that moral law guide whatever course of action is open to you. The second (humanity or end in itself formulation) “ Act in such a way that you always treat humanity whether in your own person or in the person of any other never simply as a means but always at the same time as an end” In other words treat people with respect that, as people they deserve. Moreover treat yourself with the same respect as you would treat others. The third ( kingdom of ends formulation) combines the two “ All the maxims as proceeding from our own (hypothetical) making of law ought to harmonise with a possible kingdom of ends” In other words we should regard ourselves as members of one community and that all members of that community are deserving of respect as free, rational individuals. A categorical imperative is a command which is absolute and unconditional, it must be obeyed. It has internal value which means that we must dutifully obey it simply because it will bring fame, fortune, good reputation or a happy life, but simply because by reason alone we see it to be universally valid, logical and non-contradictory. It is characterised by the word ‘ought’. So for...
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