Categorical imperative is the main philosophical notion used in Kant’s work on moral philosophy. Kant argues that human beings are superior to other creatures and they occupy a special place in terms of creation and morality. Hence, they are treated differently from all other animals. Kant sums morality in one law of reason from where all duties are derived. An imperative is a proposition that shows whether an action is important or not. Kant has developed various laws that govern morality in the society. Kant has developed different formulations of categorical imperative. That is the formulation of universal law. The formulation of universal law encourages people to act in a way that their actions can be made into a universal law. Formulation of means and end states that human beings should not use themselves or other people as a means to end, but as an end. The third formulation encourages people to act as legislative member in the universal kingdom of ends via their actions. The formulations play different roles. The first formulation of categorical imperative encourages human beings to act according to a maxim that they can wish to become a universal without any problem. This paper uses a real life example to explain the formulations of the categorical imperative (Sorensen, 2002).
A woman decided to marry another man so as to get rich. The man had various business, ranches and also held a top position in one of the ministries. The woman did not love the man, but he married him so as to get rich. On the other hand, the man knew that the woman loved him as he did and so he planned to marry her. In addition, the man appreciated his wife and always ensured that the wife was comfortable. The wife only pretended to care for her husband, but in the real sense she did not. The woman looked for various means to acquire the husband’s wealth by eliminating him. After several years, the woman managed to get the wealth by killing her husband. The woman ordered several gangsters to kill her husband on his way home.
The example above is against the formulations of categorical imperative. The first, formulation states that people should act according to a maxim that can be made a universal law. In this case, the wife actions like killing are considered as maxim. It is difficulty to make the actions a universal law as they contradict with morality. Kant considers killing immoral as it affects ones life. There is no person in the world that would have allowed people to marry so as to get rich or achieve their person goals. This is because it has more harm to the person being used to achieve the goal. In addition, people could not also make murder a universal law. This is because it infringes with the moral values in the society. Most societies do not support murder as it is a crime. Also, Kant does not support murder as it is against moral principle in the society. Hence, the wife’s actions violated this formulation and making this a universal law would be difficulty because it violates moral values (Miller, Vandome, McBrewster, 2009).
Miller,F.P.,Vandome,A.F.,&McBrewster,J.(2009).Categorical Imperative. VDM Publishing House Ltd.
Sorensen,A.(2002).The categorical imperative: analyzing Immanuel Kant's Grounding for a Metaphysics of Morals. Department of Management, Politics and Philosophy