Kantian Categorical Imperative the Formula Research Paper

Excerpt from Research Paper :

There is a need to clearly point out that the two elements are never synonymous.

The process of perfecting our own natural state in the Kantian view implies that we are actually in the process of attempting to cultivate "the crude dispositions of [our] nature, by which the animal is first raised into the human being" (Kant 1996b).In order to achieve this, Kant suggests that one is required to effectively cultivate their capacities in various personal levels and be respectful to the end of one's existence. Therefore an individual has a choice as to which of their powers they can cultivate. This is because that is where the true end actually lies.

The moral perception therefore is made up of two main commands:

Be holy and Be perfect

The very first one 'be holy" is geared towards the description of the purity of an individual's moral self-perfection. It however demands that in an individual's way of duty, one must act not in conformity with the duty only but also from the duty itself.

The second one which is "be perfect" demands that one attain their moral end in regard to oneself. It is important to note that despite our efforts to attain such a level of perfection, we can never in essence achieve it in our lifetime (in Kantian view). The continual is as maintained by Kantians the best compliance that one can expect and hope for. There is however multiple means through which one can achieve or rather reach their end. The Kantian vie however maintains that some of these means are to a lesser extent aligned with the end that is to be achieved as compared to others. The Kantians therefore have a thought that amongst the various qualities that an individual adopts in an attempt to attain their aim of moral self-perfection, a few are lacking to a large extent in the context of virtue. This therefore means that the Kantians find it extremely necessary to come to a conclusion that the duty in itself is often clouded with elements of non-virtuous qualities that are geared towards the attainment of a virtuous end.

A contention exists as to the level of latitude that the Kantian view allows in their quest to achieve a moral self-perfection. There is a need to point out that most discussion is this domain are directed towards the Kantian vie of duty towards the more natural and immoral self perfection. In situations where moral perfection is concerned, there is a very good argument that the level of latitude involved is relatively low. The Kantian view therefore is that we can never omit our duty in order to perfect our morality. At the same time, the Kantian view maintains that there is less chance in terms of the level of moral self-perfection as compared to the natural perfection as there is for the process of achieving an end to an individual's moral self-perfection. The attainment of moral self perfection in this case involves the process of obeying the "be holy" as well as the "be perfect" commands. These commands are also more rigorous in comparison with the rather relaxed and open ended command that demand that beings should cultivate their talents. In the long run, what remains is the level of decision on what maxims do form part of the constitute self-perfection and what maxims miss out in the mix.


The Kantian view of morality is one of the most elaborate ones in the explanation of the thought and concept of ethical morality. In particular, it bears a lot of relevance in the explanation of the utilitarian theories. The moral principle or rather theory of utilitarianism makes an argument that any form of action should be effectively evaluated in regard to the level of well-being and happiness that is derived from the actions that it elicits. Therefore, the happier the people as a result of an action, the higher the moral value that is attributed the action that has caused the happiness. However, the Kantian view refutes this by arguing against it that the principle to a large extent devalues the persons that are it suppose to aid. This is because its application means that the individual's benefit would be considered merely as means of achieving the end. The Kantian argument therefore argues against other ethical theories since it views the achievement of an individual's happiness as well as satisfaction as being the ultimate goal (end) rather that utilizing the human logic in the quest of the universal moral law which is dictated largely by the voice of reason. It is important to note that the Kantian view makes a clear distinction between the concepts of an individual's autonomous and heteronymous will. Kant defined heteronymous will as the one that subjects a person to certain external rules. The autonomous will on the other hand is self-imposed but has a characteristic of being mutually shared as a result of everyone's shared (mutual) rational faculty. It is therefore evident that Kant's concept of will has a correlation with his categorical imperative idea.


The Kantian categorical imperative therefore implies that each and every being when making their moral decisions as a reaction to a certain action should be in a position to hold this action against a universal standard that is applicable to every other individual who is exposed to the same circumstances. Therefore an individual's adherence to the concept of categorical imperative provides ultimately, a chance for making an autonomous and yet ethical choice as it demand that an individual make a bold move of adopting a self-regulating decision that is purely based on their own reason and understanding.


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