In order to evaluate one’s actions whether they are moral or not, we use many moral dilemmas. One of them is Kant’s categorical imperative. This essay presents Kant’s project of categorical imperative. Then, I will explain that rulers should appeal to Kant’s categorical imperative when making foreign policy decision. In order to support my point of view, I will give importance to the reasons of why rulers appeal to categorical imperative when making foreign policy, so I have two reasons for this.
One of them is that states depend on each other in economically and politically. Thus, in order to provide this stability which means that continue to stay among other states, states should act through the principles of categorical imperative which are universally valid, good intention and never using people or other states as means to end. The second reason is that if rulers appeal to categorical imperative when making foreign policy decisions, the world can be more peaceful.
Since, wars and conflicts which are caused by bad intention, using other people or states as means for gaining advantages which are not universally valid can be hindered by categorical imperatives. Finally, I will conclude that the Kant’s categorical imperatives are still valid and necessary when rulers are making foreign policy decisions. If we explain briefly Kant’s categorical imperative, there are basically three principles that represent it. These are universal law, ends as a means and the importance of intention in conducting of human behaviour.
Firstly, according to Kant, one’s action should be universally valid. Universal validity means that people should think behaviours and they need to judge their own behaviours or actions are morally acceptable or not. When you think of your behaviour, if you decide that everyone acts in the same way with me, then the action become universal and moral. The second principle of categorical imperative is that people must respect others and never use them for achieving some goals. Lastly, the third but the most important criterion of categorical imperative is maxim, which means intention.
Moral value is determined by the intention of people, which is called general maxim. If your intention is good, then your action is moral. The consequences of your action are not important, the most important thing is your intention. For this reason, being moral in your actions depends on the universal validity. However, it does not matter that how your actions conclude on others whether they are good or bad. In order to explain the first reason of why rulers should appeal to categorical imperative when making foreign policy decisions, we can think about the growing trade between the states.
States become more interdependent when trades among various states expand. Interdependence is not only important economically but also politically because all economic or business activity depends on political positions of the states. When states trade between each other, they become mutually dependent on each other’s political advantages. Also, world markets are influenced by politics and state’s power in the world markets depends on its foreign policy. So, states should establish good relations with other states.
For this reason, when making foreign policy decisions, ruler should appeal to categorical imperative. Firstly, rulers’ actions must be universally valid. If state’s foreign decisions are internally valid, then state cannot benefit from this politically and economically. For example, if the state decide to change the price of its export goods up without approval of other states, then states could not sell its goods whose price increase, because other states want to buy the same goods from another country whose price is cheaper.
Second point is that if state’s intention is bad and this kind of intention is understood by other states, this state is reproached by other states, which have a relation with this state. As a result of this, the state that is reproached becomes alone in the world market and world policy without any advantage both politically and economically. Because of that, states should have a good intention when they have relations with other states. The second reason is that principles of categorical imperative can provide peace and order if rulers appeal to them when making foreign policy decisions.
Since, states start to think universally while acting toward other states instead of being self-interested. Moreover, acting with good intentions and not using people or other states as means provide justice and order in the world. Since, each state wants to be powerful and they try to get more power than other states. It means that in order to reach their aims, they simply can use other foreign policy actors as tools. In other words, they can use other states as a means to their ends. As a result of this kind of action, war between states is inevitable.
It is because when one state can act in that way toward others then, other states also act in similar way. For this reason, their interests can be probably conflicted and chaos in world politics can arise. However, if states take into account the principles of categorical imperative, there will be probably no conflict or chaos in the world politics. In conclusion, when the principles of categorical imperative are concerned, we easily realise that they depend on each other and they help us to evaluate the actions, which are moral.
These principles of categorical imperative have the same goal that is being moral. For to be moral, the actions should be universal and should not have the aim of using others in order to gain advantages. If rulers conduct through the principles of categorical imperative then, it is obvious that the world would be more peaceful and fair. However, these obligations are not put into practise in today’s world politics. But, it is enough to know that categorical imperative is still valid and is necessary to apply to today’s conditions of foreign policy.