Groundwork Of The Metaphysics Of Morals Summary

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In Kant’s book, Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, Kant talks about the three formulations of the categorical imperative. By these formulations, he describes his idea of organizing the moral principle for all rational beings. Kant also talks about the principles of humanity, rational ends, and the “realm of ends” which are constituted by the autonomous freedom of rational beings. The first formulation of the categorical imperative is “act only in a way the maxim of which can be consistently willed as a universal law of nature.” This formulation in principle has as its supreme law, “always act according to that maxim whose universality as a law you can at the same time will” and is the only condition under which a will can ever …show more content…

This is often seen as a way of proposing the idea of “respect” for persons, for whatever it is that is essential to our humanity. The idea is to treat the humanity of ones and oneself, and others with rational being as ends in themselves and not as merely, for another end. According to the second formulation we should treat people with fundamental dignity and respect. For instance it would be wrong to make false promises because we would be treating others as a means and not respecting them as persons with intrinsic and value. Treating someone as a means to an end and treating them merely as a means to an end in order to avoid misunderstanding is imperative. So an example of the second formulation is if I steal a book from you, I am treating you as a means to get the book only. If I ask to have your book, I am respecting your humanity. Kant’s third and final formulation of categorical imperative “Formula of Autonomy” states that one must treat the idea of the will of every rational being, as a universal law. This means we should only act as maxims that are corresponding with a possible end. We should so act that we think of ourselves as a member in the universal realms of ends. We are required according to this formulation

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