Kant's Categorical Imperative.

Essay by LikwydSylvrUniversity, Master'sA+, June 2003

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Immanuel Kant claims that moral judgments must be based on the categorical imperative. He argues for this claim by first exploring the characteristics of human decisions and actions that would make them distinctly moral. He then argues that the only principle of action that adequately accounts for these characteristics is the categorical imperative. I shall discuss Kant's argument by first explaining the characteristics that he thinks make humans moral. Second, I shall explain Kant's categorical imperative to a controversial moral situation in order to demonstrate how it works.

Kant begins his argument with a discussion of the "good will." Kant claims that the moral worth of an action or a person depends on t the "Good Will." The good will directs the intentions of a person toward good or right acts. A good will, however, requires a will of ones own, which comes from autonomy. Autonomy is the power to self govern.

It gives you the ability to control your own behavior. Autonomy can be good or bad. So, good autonomous willing requires more than autonomy alone. A good autonomous will has two further conditions: respect for others as members of the Kingdom of Ends, and rationality. Rationality has three components: 1) the ability to understand consistency and contradiction; 2) the understanding that law must be universally applicable; and 3) to always conform ones actions to the law. First, rationality is the ability to recognize consistency and contradiction. Second, it is the ability to understand the concept of law as universally applicable and, finally it is to conform one's actions to the law. Rationality leads a person to respect others as members of the "Kingdom of Ends." The "Kingdom of Ends" represents humanity as the community that must be treated as an end and not just a means. It...