Kant's Analysis of the Categorical Imperative

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In his famous work “The Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals” Kant tries to develop a moral philosophy which depends on fundamental concepts of reason and tries to show that while making moral choices we should use reason. Kant, as an Enlightenment philosopher, places all his confidence in reason. In the first chapter, we generally recognized that an action is moral if and only if it is performed for the sake of duty. Duty commands itself as imperative. There are two types of imperatives as hypothetical and categorical. Hypothetical imperatives are conditional sentences. Thus, they are contingent and dependent on our desires and what we want to accomplish. However, categorical imperatives are not contingent and not have any material…show more content…
“Realm of Ends” formulation of the categorical imperative, states that we must “act in accordance with the maxims of a member giving universal laws for merely possible kingdom of ends.” (4:439) It acts as a social contract. Kant further explains it that “a rational being belongs as a member of the kingdom of ends when he gives universal laws in it but is also himself subject to those laws.” (4:434) Being subject to a law does not contradict with the concept of a rational being as an end in itself, because it is not like a slavery since it is not subject to arbitrary will. Just the opposite, since it draws central points from the first and second formulation, “the will of a member could regard itself as at the same time giving universal law through its maxim” (4:434) and no member will see another member as a mere mean. On the other hand, autonomy is not equal to self-mastery. For Kant, it is essentially social. There is also the influence of Rousseau on Kant. According to Rousseau, in a republic governs itself, its members are also both the source of the law and subject to the law. Kant uses the word “realm” to mean a “systematic union of different rational beings under common laws.” (4:434) And, those common laws are established by the categorical imperative. It is a requirement that we ought to act only according to principles that could be universal laws in a “realm of ends.” The third formulation also establishes why we ought to be moral. The basis for this is the concept of freedom. According to Kant, freedom is the ability to give your own law to your will. If we follow the demands of our desires which are contingent, we are in a state of “heteronomy.” However, if we adopt categorical imperative thus choosing maxim which can be universal laws, we are in a state of “autonomy.” By using reason to determine our universal laws, we can be
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