Philosophy is the love of wisdom. It is an activity of thought, a type of thinking that has its own subject matter and aims. The aim of philosophy, as Plato saw it, was to contemplate reality (which he believed to be eternal, perfect, and good) in order to come to a knowledge of the Good. Philosophy is not simply a theoretical discipline; it is also a way of life, a practice which requires training in both theoretical reasoning and practical living.
Immanuel Kant was a German philosopher who is considered one of the most influential thinkers of the Enlightenment period. He is best known for his work in ethics and epistemology, where he argued that the only thing that can be known for sure is our own mental experience.
Kant argues that a moral action is made up of duty and good will. Without duty, an action cannot be morally good. As Kant was looking to develop a rational foundation for all morality, he came up with the idea of Categorical Imperative – or moral commands. These are independent of circumstance or personal desires, and instead purely based on reason. In ‘The Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals’, Kant outlines three important maxims which can be used to test how morally acceptable any given actions is.
The first is the Universality Principle, which states that you should only act in a way that you would be happy for everyone to do. The second is the Humanity Principle, which says never to use people as a means to an end and always treat them with respect. Lastly, the Autonomy Principle requires individuals to be self-legislating – meaning they should think and act for themselves. In order to make a moral judgement, Kant believed that you had to go through these three principles; if it passed all of them then it was probably a good moral action.
Kant’s Categorical Imperative has been hugely influential in philosophy, particularly in ethical discussions. It provides a strong argument against any actions which may seem intuitively good, but Kant would argue are actually morally wrong. However, some people may find his views overly rationalistic and difficult to apply in the real world.
The first guideline states: “You should only take actions which you would be okay with everyone taking, regardless of the situation”. In other words, if you wouldn’t want others to do it in every possible scenario, then don’t do it yourself.
For example, it is not universally acceptable to lie, so Kant would say that it is always wrong to lie. The second maxim says: “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”. This basically means don’t use people as means to your own ends. You should always treat people with respect and as if they have intrinsic value, not just instrumental value.
Kant’s categorical imperative is a famous philosophical concept formulated by Immanuel Kant. It consists of two parts: the first part is the universal law formulation, and the second part is the humanity formulation. Kant’s categorical imperative is often summarised as “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. The first part of the categorical imperative is sometimes also referred to as the golden rule.
Kant believes that suicide is always wrong and provides the example of how it can’t be made a universal law to further his claim. He states that if everyone took their own life in any situation, regardless of the reasoning, we wouldn’t want that as a society.
The answer is obviously no, because if everyone took their own life then there would be no one left alive. Therefore, it is clear that suicide goes against the categorical imperative and is always wrong.
The categorical imperative can also be applied to more everyday situations. For example, Kant would say that it is always wrong to make a promise you know you will never keep, because if everyone did this then promises would become meaningless and we wouldn’t be able to trust each other.
In general, Kant believed that the categorical imperative could be used as a moral compass to help us make the right choices in life. He thought that we should always ask ourselves whether our actions could be made into a universal law without leading to contradiction or disaster. If the answer is no, then we should not do it.
It’s worth noting that Kant’s categorical imperative is not the same as the Golden Rule (“do unto others what you would have them do unto you”), which is found in many different religions and ethical traditions. The Golden Rule is a hypothetical imperative, which means it only applies if you want something specific to happen (in this case, being treated well by others). Kant’s categorical imperative, on the other hand, is absolute and applies regardless of our individual desires or goals.
Kant’s philosophy has been criticized by many people, including other philosophers. Some argue that his theory is too abstract and doesn’t take into account the complexities of real-life situations. Others say that it is too rigid and doesn’t allow for any flexibility or individual interpretation.
Since stealing goes against the Kantian Ethic of universality, it can never be considered morally acceptable. If everyone were to Steal, human relationships would quickly break down, as trust is fundamental to their success.
If everyone were to start stealing from each other, it would eventually lead to the downfall of society. This hypothetical scenario highlights how a maxim that cannot be universalised is incorrect and immoral. Kant believes that we should always act in such a way that we can will our action to become a universal law.
-Kant also believes in the importance of human dignity. He argues that humans are rational beings and have the ability to make choices. This makes us unique and special compared to animals who are driven by instinct. As rational beings, we should be treated with respect and not as means to an end. We should never use people as a means to an end; instead, we should always treat them as ends in themselves.
-Kant’s Categorical Imperative is a moral theory that is based on reason. It is a universal and objective theory, which means that it applies to everyone and is not reliant on anyone’s personal opinions or feelings. Kantian Ethics are deontological, meaning they are concerned with duty and obligation. Kant believes that we have a duty to follow the Categorical Imperative, which is an absolute moral law. This moral law is derived from reason and does not depend on our emotions or desires.