The Fundamental Principle of Morality According to Kant

790 WordsMay 18, 20124 Pages
According to Kant, the fundamental principle of morality must be a categorical, rather than a hypothetical imperative, because an imperative based on reason alone is one that is a necessary truth, is a priori, and is one that applies to us because we are rational beings capable of fulfilling our moral obligations. Kant explains this essential truth is how "an action as objectively necessary in itself apart from its relation to a further end". This refers to how if the supreme principle of morality was only a possible truth, then its force as a principle would be dependent on what may happen in other propositions. So being, the SPM would not be guiding the choice and action of a morally good will. This means that because morality holds…show more content…
This suggests that we can't interpret the conditional at face value, instead, we ought to recognize how they highlight a means-end relationship. Also, one could interpret the should of the hypothetical imperative as the antecedent of the hypothetical imperative as itself inherently normative; something like: if you rightly want to torture children, you should volunteer as a babysitter. Either way, hypothetical imperatives don't necessarily have normative force even when the agent possesses the desire in question. How they are best understood as depending, not merely on your having specific desires, but rather on those desires having normative authority. Reexamined then, hypothetical imperatives might follow as: if you desire X then you should Y" really means something like, "supposing that X is a worthy goal, you should Y. This still is a conditional rule, however. This is why Kant would insist that these imperatives cannot be moral imperatives because they do not apply with unconditional necessity to all rational
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