Chapter

The categorical imperative

in Kant

Published in print August 2001 | ISBN: 9780192801999
Published online September 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191775482 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/actrade/9780192801999.003.0005

Series: Very Short Introductions

The categorical imperative

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  • History of Western Philosophy
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The Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals which preceded the Critique provides a summary of Kant's moral viewpoint. Both works look at ‘ practical reason’. ‘ The categorical imperative’ looks at what constitutes practical reason and what Kant believed to be the basis of our judgements and decisions. Aristotle would have said that happiness is the motive, Kant cites duty. Through this analysis of duty, Kant's distinctive moral vision can be seen. Kant asks: can we know what to do objectively, or must we rely on our subjective inclination to guide us? The starting point of Kant's ethics is the concept of freedom. Freedom is the ability to be governed by reason.

Keywords: Aristotle; categorical imperative; Edmund; empiricism; David Hume; justice; metaphysics; rights; Ludwig Wittgenstein

Chapter.  7671 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy ; 17th - 18th Century Philosophy ; Christianity ; Political Theory

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