PHILOS 2YY3 Lecture Notes - Hypothetical Imperative, Categorical Imperative
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- Dignity of Persons
o Reasons to determine our actions – we have the faculty of choice, unlike animals
who are purely instinctual.
o We are autonomous
We set ends and act on maxims of our own choosing – we have the power to
set ends and make maxims, and choose to use means to achieve our ends.
We cannot be compelled to our ends, we must choose them freely
o These features of human beings, our humanity, grounds our dignity (an example of
which is our incomparable and unconditional moral worth)
People have dignity, not price; things have price, Kant believes we cannot
put prices on people.
o Persons: we act according to our conception of laws – we have wills, autonomies.
o Hypothetical imperative: represents necessity of an action as a means for attaining
something one wants
A conditional command - juxtaposed with the strictness of morality.
o Categorical imperative: represents an action as objectively necessary and good in
itself without reference to another end.
Morality is necessary, not contingent
Holds for us as rational beings, not though, for holy or divine wills (angels
- The categorical Imperative:
o Formulation of Universal Law:
Act only on the maxim that successfully becomes a cohesive universal law
Rules out certain maxims through their contradiction in universality.
- Testing our maxims!
o Formulate maxim: I will do action A in order to achieve purpose P
o Formulate law of nature: put maxim into universal form.
o Imagine that you are in a world with your universalized maxim at the same time as
you will use the maxim,
o Does a contradiction arise?
o If yes, action (with this maxim) is forbidden and gives rise to a duty; if there are no
contradictions, the action is permissible.
- Other duties derived:
o Duty to not commit suicide (perfect duty – a duty that one is able to complete at any
point in time in their life).
o Duty to develop our talents (imperfect – a duty that is never truly fulfilled, that is an
ongoing duty throughout life)
o Duty to help people in need (imperfect)
- The Formula of Humanity:
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