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The Categorical Imperative Aga

The Categorical Imperative Again and Again
Philosophy is repetitive and at many times unbelievably pointless. No wonder Immanuel Kant
was a great philosopher. In the Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals, Kant discusses his moral
theory. A central topic in his philosophy is the categorical imperative, which he repeats several times,
each time presenting a different formulation. But all formulations essentially contain the same basic
ideas. In order to understand the ideas behind the categorical imperative, it is necessary tofirst
examine the foundation that Kant builds for his philosophy of morals.
To begin with, Kant draws an analogy between the laws of ethics and the laws of science. Just as the
laws of science can be known by pure reason, the laws of ethics, or morality, can be known by
practical reason. Morality, though, is a normative system, as opposed to the natural laws of science. A
normative system prescribes what ought to happen, as opposed to a natural system that determines
what actually does happen. Since morality only cares for what ought to happen and not with what
actually happens, moral laws, then, must be found a priori. Everything a posteriori or discovered with
the senses only shows with did happen, not what ought to have happened. Moral laws must not be
derived from examples, since moral laws would hold even if there were no examples. Therefore, the
foundation of morality for Kant must lie with reason alone. Rationality is the key to morality. Based
on this premise, it follows that all rational beings must have the same moral laws, and all moral laws
would have absolute necessity that would apply universally to all rational beings.
An action to have moral worth, besides being a universal law, also must come from duty and duty
alone. Duty is the cause of an action when it is done purely out of respect for the law. Kant
distinguishes between two kinds of duties: perfect and imperfect duties. A…

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