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Kant's Categorical Imperative.pdf

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PHL 302
Stephen Phillips

Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) and the Categorical Imperative Kant's single moral value: The only thing good in itself is a good will: a faculty of choice that conforms solely to universal considerations. A perfectly good will is a will that conforms to rationallaw (independently of desire, pleasure, and all subjective and particular determinations). A good will acts on considerations that hold for everyone, for every rational being. On what principle does a good will act? In other words, what is the fundamental principle of ethics? A first principle must be categorical, the same for every rational being in all circumstances. It must be independent of particular circumstances to include desires, goals, etc. Kant: to be categorical the first principle must be necessary (couldn't just happen to be true) and a priori (independent of experience reflecting particular circumstances). Kant�s first principle is called the categorical imperative. (Why an �imperative�?) What form would an ethical principle take? Kant : a command, an imperative, a statement saying that we should or ought to do such and such. Imperatives (sentences containing an ought) hypothetical categorical dependent on independent of particular particular circumstances circumstances If . . ., then you should . . . You should . . . Universalizability: If it is morally right (wrong, supererogatory, etc.) for J to perform an action of type A, then in the same circumstances it would be morally right for M to perform an action of type A. The "Golden Rule": Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Jaina universality (500 B.C.): Everything that is a self or capable of feeling pain is not to be harmed. Formal principle of justice: Treat similar cases similarly; judge only by morally relevant factors.
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