Oct 20, 2009

Philosophy Assignment - Kantian Ethics

Hello Young Philosophers,
As a continuation of our discussion on Ethics, particularly the modernists and deontological theorists, have a look at the Critique of Practical Reason (Immanuel Kant) on Wikipedia and try to answer the following questions:-
  • How & why does he distinguish between practical reason & theoretical reason?
  • Examine what he means by the Categorical Imperative. Examine the argument wherein he declares the Categorical Imperative as the Universal Moral Law. Do you agree that it is indeed universal (check the consequent pages)
This should take you a few hours of research & pondering. Blog your answers/thoughts as comments to this post.


  1. My name is Saarang Sahasrabudhe.

    According to Kant, theoretical reasoning can never be a law, because it based on presumption and experience, which cannot be applicable universally.
    On the other hand, practical reasoning is independent of these factors, and are true by itself.

    For the other answer, the concept of categorical imperative also has its flaws. For example, it considers its principles to be true independent of anything.

    After i read the main article on Categorical Imperative on Wiki, i found its first formulation that states that,"Act according to that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law". Technically it says,"Do what you feel is logically right". But just above it says how Kant felt determinism as logically
    inconsistent.(if outside info is not to be considered then the link itself contradicts its own knowledge)

  2. Prathamesh Kubal

    1) While distinguishing Kant says

    Pure Practical Reasoning can explain things with help of knowledge & experience & not just by mere assumptions. It can satisfy all the conditions & is suitable for all the frame of references as it is dependent on the situations. It works goes with the situations & changes accordingly.

    Pure Theoretical Reasoning can be applied at a time to a specific frame of reference, but fails when it is applied outside its frame of reference, i.e. it cannot be applied to all the situations & cannot satisfy all the conditions. It is used mainly for understanding things beyond the applied theoretical reasoning.

    2) According to him Categorical Imperative means an absolute & unconditional requirement in any kind of situation which is needed to satisfy all the necessary things. Despite of any circumstances this imperative is necessary, to carry out the work.

    I don’t agree that categorical imperative is Universal Moral law. Since situations & conditions vary from time to time, even the morals will vary. As a result all the situations won’t have the same moral. Due to which the mentioned imperative cannot be always the same for all the conditions. But Universal Moral Law is applied for all the situations. Hence, Categorical imperative cannot be Universal Moral Law.
    For e.g.:- “Killing people is not considered as good’ is Universal Moral Law, but in battlefield soldiers don’t think this way, they have to fight for their defense. Here the absolute & unconditional requirement (Categorical Imperative) is that a person must be enough healthy to hit their opponent if the opponent harms them. Hence, the Categorical Imperative is important in this instead of Universal Moral Law


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