Categorical Imperative





Categorical Imperative

Immanuel Kant is one of the most respected philosophers throughout history. One of the philosophies for which he is known is the categorical imperative. One of the principles behind this imperative is that a person should act in a manner that they would like to be universalized for all people. For example, if a person wants honesty to be a universal rule for all people, they must always tell the truth without any exceptions. The second principle of the categorical imperative is that people must treat each other as an end and not as a means to an end (Yudanin 610). In life, we tend to treat people based on what we would like to get from them, meaning they are a means to an end. Kant’s categorical imperative forbids this standard and recommends that people treat each other as ends in themselves. After studying the principles behind Kant’s categorical imperative, I agree with the philosophy because it provides a fair and equal standard for people to treat each other.

The first reason why I agree with the categorical imperative is that I think it gives a uniform standard for treating others. One major issue in ethics is whether we should apply ethical principles relatively or objectively. If we take the relative path, then people will justify their behavior depending on the situation. For example, if a person is caught telling a lie, they could explain it by saying they were trying to protect someone. Under the categorical imperative, a person should tell the truth if they want the principle of honesty to be universal. A lot of the time, people apply double standards by demanding honesty from others and yet twisting the truth when it suits them. The categorical imperative instructs people to behave in a way they think should be a universal rule, motivating people to apply principles they believe should be universal. These universal principles allow people to make decisions based on what they think should be the universal rule.

The second reason I agree with the categorical imperative is that it keeps people from taking advantage of others for selfish gain. It is quite common for a person to take advantage of another with a goal in mind rather than treating the person as an end. For example, if one of my classmates’ parents is an executive at a company I want to work in, I might choose to befriend them so that I can meet their parents. This is an example of using a person as a means to an end, which is wrong. If people were to behave this way, it would be impossible to trust anyone because we would always wonder what that person wants from us. Treating people as ends in themselves is desirable because it recognizes each individual’s inherent value, and any benefits that we get from the association is a bonus rather than a target. If everyone applies this principle, it restores trust, making them more open to interactions with others.

Kant’s categorical imperative would be particularly useful in today’s world, where faith in humanity has been greatly eroded. People want to take advantage of others for their own benefit without caring how the other party feels. The categorical imperative demands that people treat each other with respect and dignity, which should be a universal rule. One challenge presented against the categorical imperative would be inflexibility (McCarty 179), but people should apply principles that they feel comfortable with. If you want to lie to someone, then you should be willing to expect lies from others. Everyone should apply the categorical imperative in their own life, and this would lead to a world where people trust each other and treat others as ethyl would wish to be treated.

Works Cited

Yudanin, Michael. “Can Positive Duties be Derived from Kant’s Categorical Imperative?.” Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 18.3 (2015): 595-614.

McCarty, Richard. “False Negatives of the Categorical Imperative.” Mind 124.493 (2015): 177-200.

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