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Unformatted text preview: tives. It’s not enough simply to have a want or a desire. The point is that you have to WILL the end—you have to be actively working towards it. It’s only in that sense that rationality kicks in and ‘commands’ you to perform the means to get you to that end. Now, there are two kinds of hypothetical Now, there are two kinds of hypothetical imperatives:
Problematical Hypothetical Imperatives
Assertorial Hypothetical Imperatives The Problematical kinds are pretty much just The Problematical kinds are pretty much just “imperatives of skill”.
Like the examples I mentioned. These sorts of ends are just totally arbitrary (there’s no reason to possess them, you just do). But, the point is, once you have them, you have a reason (a command) to fulfill the means to get to the end. The Assertorial kinds are also called The Assertorial kinds are also called “councils of prudence”.
Now, these imperatives command the means to an end that we all do, in fact, have: to be happy. So, given that you want to be happy, you have a reason (a command) to do this or that. Since happiness is so indefinite, though, Kant calls these things ‘councils of prudence’—
not technically commands (but don’t worry about that) But there is the other kind of imperative, the But there is the other kind of imperative, the one which is important for the sake of morality—the one that represents “an action as necessary of itself without reference to another end, that is, as objectively necessary”.
This is the categorical imperative. So this command—because there is only So this command—because there is only one of them—is supposed to be applicable to all rational agents (all persons) no matter what they happen to will (want or desire).
Contrasted, then, with hypothetical imperatives which all ASSUME you happen to have some other end. Kant formulates this categorical imperative:
Kant formulates this categorical imperative: “Act only on that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law” That last bit is the most important thing, but That last bit is the most important thing, but it takes a while to explain it.
Let’s start with this ‘maxim’ business. That’s the part that hangs people up the most.
Maxims are the principles that explain the motivation of our actions. They are also the things to which rational demands apply. So they look, in sc...
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- Fall '08