Kant’s Categorical Imperative is made up of two formulations, Formula of Universal Law and The Formula of the End in Itself. The first formulation is best described by the following statement, “Act only according to that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law without contradiction. ” (Kant, 1785, 1993). What does this mean? A maxim is the fundamental rule of conduct or your moral belief upon which you chose to act. A universal law is a law that everyone must follow regardless of the outcome. How do we determine if the maxim can become universal?
One of the first things to do is to ask yourself if it would be acceptable that everyone do the same thing that you are considering doing in that situation. We were given several examples in The Elements of Moral Philosophy and the one that made the most impact was “suppose a man needs money, but no one will lend it to him unless he promises to pay it back-which he knows he won’t be able to do. Should he make a false promises to get the loan? ” (Rachels, 2012). If this happened the maxim or universal rule would be anytime you need a loan tell a lie that you will repay it and you will get the loan.
This is not something that everyone would be willing to do because you will no longer believe others when they tell you this statement and no one would be willing to make the loans. The second thing you should do to determine if the maxim can become universal is look at your answer to the first question. Did you say “yes, I think that everyone will do it? ”. If so, then ask yourself if it makes rational sense to want everyone in the same situation to do what you are contemplating doing. If your answer was no to either question then your maxim cannot become universal law because it is not considered moral.
Overall, based on Kant, an act is morally right only if the primary rule of behavior, which is how you decide to act morally, can constantly and universally relate to you and others. The second formulation is best described by the following statement, “Act in such a way that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, never merely as a means to an end, but always at the same time as an end. ” (Kant, 1785, 1993). Basically, this means that morality consists of doing your duty to treat people, including yourself, and an end, never as a means to an end.
Kant combined the second formulation with the first because we have a perfect duty to not use the humanity of ourselves or others merely as a means to some other end. Most ends are somewhat subjective because they need only be pursued if they are in line with some particular hypothetical imperative that a person may choose to adopt. (Categorical Imperative Explained, 2012). The second formulation also leads to the imperfect duty to further the ends of ourselves and others. If any person desires perfection in themselves or others, it would be their moral duty to pursue that end for all people equally, so long as that end does not contradict perfect duty.
The question of whether or not Kant adequately addresses the problems evident in comparison of the two formulations cannot be summed up with a simple yes or no answer. He makes a good argument for both sides just as he opposes both sides. The difference is whether or not we have the right moral sense to determine why and how our decisions affect ourselves and others. Kant shows that you have struggles when rationality and practicality are conveyed to cover the same matter. So after all this we ask the question, “How plausible is the theory?
” I think that it is a logical theory that clearly assists in making decisions. It provides a plausible account of morality because you can look at others and have a tendency to complete your actions based on those of others. Kantianism is a more consistent theory because it can be universally applied to all. It is more believable because even if the penalties of carrying out an action aren’t necessarily the best, the individual is still obligated to perform the action because it is their duty to do so.
Kant’s theory focuses on the motivation of actions and has a clear and distinctive set of universal rules, and is morally sound. Consequently, ethically and morally they are doing the right thing. Bibliography Categorical Imperative Explained. (2012, April 12). Retrieved from Everything Explained: http://everything. explained. at/categorical_imperative/ (1993). In J. W. Ellington, Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals (p. 30). Hackett. Kant, I. (1785, 1993). Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals 3rd ed.. . In J. W. Wllington.
Hackett. Rachels, J. (2012). The Elements of Moral Philosophy. McGraw-Hill. Reason – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. (n. d. ). Retrieved from http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Reason Chicago: Reason – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Reason (accessed April 17, 2012). The Elements of Moral Philosophy. (n. d. ). Retrieved from http://jamesrachels. org/78improvedsentences. htm Chicago: The Elements of Moral Philosophy, http://jamesrachels. org/78improvedsentences. htm (accessed April 17, 2012).
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