You are on page 1of 1

Immanuel Kant (1724-1804)

Philosophical Background
- Moral and Political Philosophy was his specialty
- ex. Categorical Imperative/Groundwork, Perpetual Peace
Categorical Imperative/Groundwork
- based upon one rule which all individuals must live by when making decisions on behavior
- Act Only on that maxim through which you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law
- This is the highest moral law that we are never allowed to break
The categorical imperative basically means that everyone must act on a principle; for example
I give money to an orphanage i act on the principle that people who have enough money should give some money to those who
need it.
The Categorical Imperative stipulates that there must be no contradictions in the action at questions; for example
If I break a promise to repay a loan
Maxim: Whenever I believe myself to be short of money, I will borrow money and promise to pay it back, though I know that this will
never be done.
contradiction because- anybody believing himself to be in need can make any promise he pleases wit the intention not to keep it,
making promising and the very purpose of promising , itself impossible,since no one would believe the was being promised
anything.
basically if every one universally broke promises, there is no reason for promising to exist.
The categorical imperative shows what we must not do not what we must do
Imperatives
Hypothetical- if the action is good solely as a means to something else
Categorical- if the action is represented as good in itself and therefore as necessary, in virtue of its principle, for a will which of itself
accords with reason, then the imperative is categorical.
Basically
Hypothetical- the reason the imperative is good is because it leads to something else which is good
Categorical- is good in itself
Kant says, we can never fully ignore hypothetical imperatives and never perform them, but we don't fulll all hypothetical
imperatives all the time.
ex. I should often give money to charity, but i don't have to give money to every person in need I see.
Do not treat people as means/ Kingdom of Ends
Basically means that all individuals are of inherent value and should be respected as such.
It is okay to use people as a means as long as they are included in the ends.
ex. searching homes in search of weapons, searching my home for the safety of others is using me as a means and not as an end.
Weaknesses- Strict and unrealistic
WWII harboring jewish in an attic, and SS comes to the door and asks if there are any of them in the house to your knowledge?
Kant says you must not lie.
Passing the Tests of the Categorical imperative does not mean it is moral, it means that it is not immoral