categorical imperative

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categorical imperative:

see Kant, ImmanuelKant, Immanuel
, 1724–1804, German metaphysician, one of the greatest figures in philosophy, b. Königsberg (now Kaliningrad, Russia). Early Life and Works
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categorical imperative


Categorical Imperative


a term introduced by the German philosopher I. Kant to designate the basic law, or rule, of his ethics. It has two formulations: “So act that you can will the maxim of your conduct to be a universal law” (Sock, vol. 4, part 1, Moscow, 1965, p. 260) and “So act as to treat humanity, whether in your own person or in another, always as an end and never only as a means” (ibid, p. 270). The first of these expresses the formal conception of ethics that is characteristic of Kant, and the second places limitations on this formalism. According to Kant, the categorical imperative is a universal principle obligatory for all men, which must guide everyone, regardless of origin or social position. The abstract and formal nature of the categorical imperative was criticized by Hegel.

In discussing the postulates of Kant’s ethics, K. Marx and F. Engels wrote that Kant “made the materially motivated determinations of will of the French bourgeois into pure self-determinations of the ‘free will’, of the will in and for itself, of the human will, and so converted it into purely ideological conceptual determinations and moral postulates” (Sock, 2nd ed., vol. 3, p. 184).


Williams, T. C. The Concept of the Categorical Imperative. Oxford, 1968.
References in periodicals archive ?
We are left with a continuum of ownership scenarios with elements that (1) are introducible as categorical imperatives, (2) are consistent with the survival of mankind, and (3) can be argued for without entailing a performative contradiction.
Potential Ownership Categorical Imperatives and Implications Description Action Libertarian possible?
The other statements of the categorical imperative include that known as the "formula of the law of nature" (421); that known as the "formula of the end-in-itself" (429); that known as the "formula of autonomy" (431); and that know as the formula of the "kingdom of ends" (433).
6) Ellington refers to the common English names for the various formulas of the categorical imperative in his notes; see also Simon Blackburn, "categorical / hypothetical imperative," in the Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994), 56-57, for the five forms.
Needless to say, counting noses is not the proper way to identify categorical imperatives or to resolve disputed questions generally--including questions about the proper way to resolve a particular dispute.
It is not obvious how respecting or abiding by an indeterminate concept can be a categorical imperative, but before we subject Young's assertions to critical scrutiny, a brief explanation of self-ownership is in order.
The libertarian nonaggression principle is but one implication of the undeniable categorical imperative that proper ways to resolve disputes ought to be determined by argumentation or argumentatively validated methods among the parties to a dispute.
In 'Dignity and the Formula of Humanity' (Chapter 6), Oliver Sensen's close readings of several key passages in Section II aim to establish that human beings are (descriptively) ends in themselves in virtue of the freedom of their wills; that we ought (normatively) to treat others as ends in themselves because the Categorical Imperative (i.
Yet Stephen Engstrom's excellent recent book, The Form of Practical Knowledge: A Study of the Categorical Imperative (Harvard University Press 2009), demonstrates that there are still fresh, illuminating ways to think about the general form of the categorical imperative and its law of nature variant.