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categorical imperative

Subject Philosophy

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405106795.2004.x


E thics According to Kant , the fundamental absolute formal demand (or set of demands) on our choice of maxims or principles on which to act. He proposed a number of formulations of the categorical imperative that on the surface differ radically from one another, although Kant himself believed that the different formulations are equivalent. On the first version, the principle on which one acts should also be capable of becoming a universal law. As a rational agent, I must accept that a sufficient reason for me is a sufficient reason for another rational being in an exactly similar situation. The second formulation requires that one should treat humanity in oneself and others never simply as means but also as ends. One should never simply use people, for rational beings have an intrinsic worth and dignity. The third formulation requires that we treat others as autonomous and self-determining agents. To treat people as ends in themselves is to respect their autonomy and freedom. In choosing principles, one should act as though one were legislating as a member of a kingdom of ends . The core of Kant's deontology is to ground all duties in the categorical imperative. Unlike the categorical imperative, hypothetical imperatives have force only if we have certain desires or inclinations. Recent expositions have tried to show the unity of Kant's formulations and have defended the ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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