Always treat others as ends and not means. a. The student who makes a false promise to repay a student loan is forbidden under any interpretation. It goes against the first formulization of the categorical imperative. If the act of lying to obtain money were a universal action, no person would lend money anymore as he knows that he will never be paid back. The maxim of this action, according to Kant, results in a contradiction in conceivability (which contradicts perfect duty). Lying logically contradicts the
reliability of whatever is said. If it were universally acceptable to lie, then no one would believe anything anyone said. The deception can also not be claimed because it would deny the status of the deceived person as being an end in itself. This deception is incompatible with a kingdom of ends. b. But even though it is possible that a universal law of nature could subsist in accordance with that maxim, still it is impossible to will that such a principle should hold everywhere as a law of nature. For a will that resolved in this way would contradict itself, inasmuch as cases might often arise in which one would have need of the love and sympathy of others and in which he would deprive himself, by such a law of nature springing from his own will, of all hope of the aid he wants for himself. c. Kant derived a prohibition against cruelty to animals as a violation of a duty in relation to oneself. According to Kant, man has the imperfect duty to strengthen the feeling of compassion, since this feeling promotes morality in relation to other human beings. But, cruelty to animals deadens the feeling of compassion in man. Therefore, man is obliged not to treat animals brutally. d. Kant also applies the categorical imperative in The Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals on the subject of "failing to cultivate one's talents." He proposes a man who if he cultivated his talents could bring many goods, but he has everything he wants and would prefer to enjoy the pleasures of life instead. The man asks himself how the universality of such a thing works. While Kant agrees that a society could subsist if everyone did nothing, he notes that the man would have no pleasures to enjoy, for if everyone let their talents go to waste, there would be no one to create luxuries that created this theoretical situation in the first place. Not only that, but cultivating one's talents is a duty to oneself. Thus, it is not willed to make laziness universal, and a rational being has imperfect duty to cultivate its talents. Kant concludes in The Groundwork: i. ...he cannot possibly will that this should become a universal law of nature or be implanted in us as such a law by a natural instinct. For as a rational being he necessarily wills that all his faculties should be developed, inasmuch as they are given him for all sorts of possible purposes.
- Fall '09