Kant's Categorical Imperative

Topics: Categorical imperative, Immanuel Kant, Philosophy Pages: 2 (757 words) Published: August 2, 2010
Immanuel Kant, disagreed with the Utilitarian principle that maximized happiness for the greatest number of people. In chapter 2 of his book, Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals, Kant theorizes an external critique that we don’t always act for desires but duty instead. Kant really has this worry and he wants to find a firm foundation for our moral laws. According to Kant, Act only on that maxim by which you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law. Universal moral law is not empirical, not based on experience because then it is not justified and can take on different meanings. Once you strip away everything empirical, contingent, subjective about you will be left with a rational (form of the action itself). When all of us strip away from everything that makes us different, what’s left is those number of rational agents who are strictly identical. That’s why it has to be universal, people will be not different. A imperative is a type of a command that implements our wills. Kant believes our actions have a structure and we perform actions for a purpose but purpose doesn’t ground our moral obligations. Hypothetical imperative is a law that commands on the basis of some other purpose. Categorical imperative commands just in virtue of that form of that law and the reason for doing the action comes from purpose. Kant concluded that it is a necessity of following an imperative without concern for the end and that all moral statements should be general laws, no matter what.

Kant argued in his first premise that happiness cannot serve as a ground that happiness cannot serve as a ground for universal law. We don’t know what will make us happy. “The reason for this is that all the elements that belong to the concept of happiness are empirical- that is, they must be borrowed from experience” (Kant 174). The fact that an action may lead to happiness cannot be the grounds for moral obligation. Happiness is permissible in duty, however cannot be...
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