The Lying Promise
-The Lying Promise. The maxim: “Whenever I believe myself short of money, I will
borrow money and promise to pay it back, though I know that this will never be done.”
The problem: Promises would be made impossible.
-Arguments showing that a violation of each of the four (sorts of)
duties will also violate the Categorical Imperative.
"In order to illustrate his philosophy, Kant uses four examples of what he considers immoral conduct
throughout the categorical imperative"
CATEGORICAL IMPERATIVE 1 AND 2
(C1) Universal Law. Act only in accordance with that maxim through which you can at the
same time will that it become a universal law.
(C2) Law of Nature. Act as if the maxim of your action were to become by your will a
universal law of nature.
(C1) and (C2) give us a practical test: only a universalizable maxim can
be a moral law—that is, a maxim (intention or policy) has to be such that (a) everyone could
adopt it; (b) we could wish everyone to act upon it; (c) no contradiction results from universal
adoption and action
Procedure for determining whether a proposed action violates CI1:
(1) Formulate the maxim:
I am to do x in circumstances y in order to bring about z.
I am to lie on a loan application when I am in severe financial difficulty and there is no other
way to obtain funds, in order to ease the strain on my finances.
(2) Generalize the maxim into a law of nature:
Everyone always does x in circumstances y in order to bring about z.
Everyone always lies on a loan application when he is in severe financial difficulty and there is
no other way to obtain funds, in order to ease the strain on his finances.
(3) Figure out the perturbed social world (PSW), that is, what the world would be like if this
law of nature were added to existing laws of nature and things had a chance to reach
equilibrium. Note: assume that after the adjustment to equilibrium the new law is common
knowledge -- everyone knows that it is true, everyone knows that everyone knows, etc.
Q1: Could I rationally act on my maxim in the PSW?
This is the “Contradiction in Conception Test”
Q2: Could I rationally choose the PSW as one in which I would be a member?
This is the “Contradiction in the Will Test” The Kantian evaluation rule is this: we must be able to answer yes to both questions for the
maxim to be acceptable. If we get a no answer to either, we must reject the