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Mark Pike

November 12, 12

Philosophical Ethics

Argument 2 Prompt 3

The Categorical Imperative and False Promises

In The Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, Immanuel Kant argues for apriori morality. A priori knowledge or justification is deduced without past experience. As a deontological philosopher, Kant is more concerned with adherence to a moral code, than he is with the outcome or consequence of an action. Unlike the utilitarian philosophy, Kant believed that the ends couldn’t always justify the means.

Kant believed in a set of absolute rules that must be followed in all circumstances. He argues that each individual can logically infer these absolute rules. Kant sought to develop a moral compass that could be applied by anyone in any circumstance. His solution was The Categorical Imperative.

An Imperative is a rule, or principle, that we ought to follow. What makes the imperative “categorical” is the ability to apply the imperative to any situation. Kant’s Categorical Imperative has three formulations. If a decision coincides with the three formulations, than that action is moral.

The first formulation of the Categorical Imperative states: “Act only according to that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law without contradiction.” A Maxim is the motivation behind a person’s action. Kant argues that our maxims should be based on our duty to ones society. Kant argues that if all members of society could perform the action without harming society, than it is a moral action.

Kant writes that every human has an inherent worth resulting from the ability to rationalize. All people are worthy of dignity and respect. From this he comes to his second formulation that humans should always be treated as ends in themselves. In simpler words, Kant is arguing that we should never use each other purely as means to benefit ourselves.

With the third formulation of the Categorical Imperative, Kant...