What Is Kant's Categorical Imperative

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Kant sets out to elucidate what the categorical imperative contains. We ought to bear in mind that the categorical imperative is not a concept that can be established by an appeal to experience, since experience cannot furnish us with what ought to be, but rather what is. The categorical imperative, Kant explains, is not analytic, but rather it is a practical synthetic principle a priori, and establishing how synthetic a priori propositions are possible is always a daunting undertaking. With this difficulty, Kant resolves to postpone the resolution of the unconditional imperative for the latter part of his work (420).
Kant argues that hypothetical imperatives – imperatives based on desire or inclination – are conditional, since they are dependent
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Here, Kant seems to be suggesting that the criterion for morally permissible actions is derived from the categorical imperative; that is, it offers us a template through which we can act for the sake of the law. To validate this claim, Kant makes a transition from the official formula and introduces an analogic formula of the law-of-nature which states, “so act as if the maxim of your action were to become by your will a universal law of nature” (421.16). He elucidates this idea by means of the followings four…show more content…
An agent is in dire need of money. He approaches a lender for a loan, while being aware that he will not pay it back; but also no one will grant him a loan except if he made a firm promise to pay it back at a given time. Being in such a juxtaposition, and wrestles with his conscience over the permissibility of such an action, i.e., whether his maxim can be universalised. However, if he resolves to make false promise, and if such maxim is to be the standard of human behaviour, then distrust will ensue as other persons will view promises as a sham. From this reasoning, it follows that his maxim cannot be universalised (422).
Thirdly, nurturing individual’s talents. An agent, endowed with natural talents, refuses to put them to use as a result of all kinds amusement, e.g., going on a year-long safari, thus leading to laziness. Such a maxim, Kant argues, cannot be universalised. Kant recommends that, for the sake of future pursuits, one should will a maxim that furthers the development of one’s talents (423). Here, one can deduce that Kant is castigating

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