Alternative Fuel, Global Climate Change, and the Categorical Imperative

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Alternative Fuel, Global Climate Change and the Categorical Imperative While environmental questions are frequently channeled through practical and economic prisms, it is also appropriate to consider our econolgy as a function of morality. The ethical dilemmas which contribute to our policies and our behaviors regarding the use of fossil fuels and our attention to global climate change are frequently overshadowed by more immediate concerns of survival or mere comfort. However, German philosopher Immanuel Kant offers what has become an important if decidedly rigid framework for facing such an ethical dilemma. According to Kant's deontological constructs, delineated in his landmark 1785 work, Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals, morality is to treated as a science. In treating this as a science subject to the immutable laws of nature, morality becomes the purview of what Kant calls the categorical imperative. For Kant, questions of morality and ethical decision-making are to be settled by an unchanging set of principles shared by all men. To this end, Kant argues that "physics will have its empirical part, but it will also have a rational one; and likewise ethics although here the empirical part might be called specifically practical anthropology, while the rational part might properly be called morals." (Kant, 20) From this view, Kant takes the perspective that ethical free-will is a danger to civil and social order. Absent the categorical imperative, man is left
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