Immanuel Kant: The Categorical Imperative

March 2, 2009

Book: Contemporary Moral Problems by James E. White (7th Edition)

Library Reference: N/A

Amazon Reference:


Quote: “There is therefore only a single categorical imperative and it is this: “Act only on that maxim through which you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law.”


In this chapter, the author, Immanuel Kant, discusses about “The Categorical Imperative”. As what he defined it, it is a kind of morality where people affirm that each one of them has his own obligations and duties in life. According to Kant, he “believes that our moral duty can be formulated in one supreme rule, the categorical imperative, from which all our duties can be derived.” There should be one supreme rule for morality so that all of the people can go with it and live their lives with it.

Categorical Imperative instills the mind of a person to understand first how to deal with issues or concerns, by simply thinking. As we all know, it’s better to think first before we act on something we are unsure. Usually, when we experience this kind of ‘decision-making’, we choose between our conscience and our convictions in dealing with them. Categorical imperative sometimes create this wrong notion that people do actions selfishly, however, what categorical imperative wants us to understand is that we create or do something based on the welfare of others.

People will always undergo with this kind of situation wherein we are challenged between right and wrong. No matter how hard it is to choose what should be done, we must remember that we keep our morality fit in. Morality makes situations more constrict in a way that they could alter the laws that are already been put into practice. At the end of the day, your actions would always reflect your character as well.

What I’ve learned:

  • Kant explained how the standards of rationality from which all moral requirements were derived.
  • The categorical imperative breaks the idea of utilitarianism
  • Ideas explained by the ‘maxims’


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