Immanuel Kant

Immanuel Kant - Immanuel Kants writings about moral...

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Unformatted text preview: Immanuel Kants writings about moral philosophy are an attempt to elucidate moral and ethical principles by explaining them as derived from reason. In his Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals, Kant describes a moral principle that he calls the Categorical Imperative. The Categorical Imperative is a moral principle derived from reason that applies in every situation. It is an unconditional commandment that allows one to base their decisions off of reason instead of changing their moral principles from situation to situation depending on the particular circumstance or consequences involved with the decision. The first formulation of the Categorical Imperative comes from the idea that a moral principle must have universality if it is to be in line with reason. Kant explains that one must only act according to that maxim where at the same time you can will it to be a universal law. One must only take an action that would fall in line with reason if everyone were to act in the same way. The second formulation is derived from the first and requires that we treat all humanity and an end in itself and never merely as a means. As rational creatures we have an autonomous will from which we pursue ends. We never consider ourselves to be merely a means to these ends and we would violate the first formulation if we were to treat others merely as a means. The third formulation considers again that we are ends in ourselves and says that we are subject to the laws that we make for ourselves. In order to make this universal one must consider that others are bound to these same laws. Therefore all people are both sovereign and subject to the laws. ...
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This note was uploaded on 04/20/2008 for the course PHIL 050 taught by Professor Pinker during the Spring '08 term at Georgetown.

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