Share
Explore BrainMass

Kant's second argument for the Categorical Imperative

I present and explain Kant's second argument for the Categorical Imperative, the "argument from Rational Action".

Solution Preview

Please see attached file.

KANT'S 2ND ARGUMENT FOR THE CATEGORICAL IMPERATIVE

PRELIMINARY NOTE:

• Kant's first argument draws its power (or was supposed to!) from a common-sense conception of moral worth.

• Apparently Kant was reluctant to base his conclusions entirely on common sense- it not always to be trusted! For this reason, he developed another argument for the Categorical Imperative, which is supposed to derive from an (objective) analysis of RATIONAL ACTION.

THE ARGUMENT FROM RATIONAL ACTION

One central aim of Normative Ethics aims to answer the question,
WHAT OUGHT I TO DO?

When we try to figure out what we ought to do, we engage in PRACTICAL REASONING.

We use reason PRACTICALLY...
-What we should DO?
Compare THEORETICAL reasoning...
-What should we BELIEVE?

PRACTICAL RATIONALITY:

• A person's WILL is his or her capacity for RATIONAL CHOICE

• Kant believes RATIONAL CHOICE involves having the capacity to act on RULES or PRINCIPLES.

Rational beings are able to determine their WILLS, or make RATIONAL CHOICES based on PRINCIPLES.

• The rule or principle which rational beings use to determine their WILLS, is the MAXIM of the ACTION.

• MAXIMS are practical rules that enunciate a person's intentions (Sullivan)

One's intention embodies a practical rule or maxim.

• The [maxim] explains what the person takes him/herself to be doing, and the circumstances in which he takes himself to be doing it.

EXAMPLE:

Whenever I want to get fit, I will go to gym.

Writing a test: your maxim might be, "Whenever I am taking an academic test, and I believe I know the correct answers, I shall give what I take to be the correct answers (Feldman p. 134).

The form of a maxim can be represented as follows:

EXAMPLE: Whenever I want to get thin, I will eat less...

Whenever X is the case, I will Y...
REASONS FOR ACTION

• When engaging in PRACTICAL REASONING we often make judgements about what we OUGHT to do.

E.G.: I OUGHT to go to lectures today
- One's behaviour MUST/SHOULD to conform to the pattern prescribed.

• These 'OUGHTS' express principles that are supposed to DETERMINE our conduct.

-These OUGHTS determine our maxims for action.

• Since the 'OUGHT' is supposed to determine our conduct, the ...

Solution Summary

Kant's second argument for the categorical imperative is examined.

$2.19