Kantington - What can and Kant be done An analytic essay by...

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What can and Kant be done An analytic essay by Tosh Lloyd Prof: Sarah Stroud T.A: Bruno Guindon The categorical imperative is the main concept illustrated by Immanuel Kant in his Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals. Once the concept is introduced Kant claims that all duties can be derived form the categorical imperative. This paper will illustrate how exactly Kant proves this point. According to Kant a duty is “the necessity of an action done out of respect for the law” (ak400). A duty is basically a model of action in accordance with the law. These duties vary depending on the laws that apply to the context of the situation. For example, civic duties are the models of action in accordance with civic laws. Familial duties are models of action in accordance with family values (laws). In the Grounding , Kant focuses on moral duties. That is, models of action in accordance with the moral law. According to Kant only actions that are in accordance with duty have moral worth (ak 390). It should be made clear that just because an action does not have moral worth is not as harsh of a criticism as it may seem. An action that is morally good (in accordance with duty) reveals a person’s good will. But just because an action does not reveal or highlight a person’s good will does not mean that they do not have a good will. I will come back to this point later on in this essay. Kant’s aim in the latter half of the essay is to develop a way of testing whether or not it is morally permissible to act on your maxim. For clarity’s sake, a maxim can be seen as the practical rule or policy behind an action; or more simply, the practical reason behind an action. Kant attempts to develop a method of testing
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maxims by deriving three equally important formulas out of the categorical imperative: The formula of universal law, the formula of humanity, and the formula of the kingdom of ends. In this essay I will explore the first two formulas The first formula that Kant derives is known as the formula of universal law. “Act only according to that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law” (ak421). Essentially, if you can take your maxim and apply it to all rational beings universally without contradiction, your maxim is morally good and therefore can be acted upon without moral distress. At the same time, if you cannot will your maxim to become universal law
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