Kant's Categorical Imperative

Kant's Categorical Imperative - Kant's Categorical...

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Kant’s Categorical Imperative An imperative is a command or ‘must’-statement, wherein a sort of action is represented as being necessary. The imperatives of interest here are those issued by Reason (our own rational nature), rather than those issued by particular individuals. Most of the imperatives issued by Reason are what Kant calls “hypothetical”, in that they incorporate reference to some condition, which an agent may or may not be in. Examples: If you want to do well in philosophy, you must study’; ‘ If you wish to have a happy life, it is imperative that you have friends’; ‘ If you are a parent, you must tend to the welfare of your children’; ‘Make sure you back up your computer files, if you don’t want to court disaster’. In all such cases, the necessity of the action in question depends on the agent’s having a goal, intention, preference, social standing, or the like. But there is one imperative, says Kant, that Reason issues unconditionally . He calls it the “Categorical Imperative”, and he claims that it is the ground or basis for all legitimate moral rules or guidelines. In the Categorical Imperative there are no “ifs” involved; a course of action is commanded regardless of the agent’s goals, intentions, preferences, social standing, etc. It applies to every individual in the category of person — i.e., all “autonomous” beings — the differences between us being irrelevant. Since it is supposed to
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Kant's Categorical Imperative - Kant's Categorical...

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