Discussion: Kant’s Categorical Imperative
Please read the general discussion requirements above, as well as the announcements explaining the discussion requirements and answering the most frequently asked questions. If you are still unsure about how to proceed with the discussion, please reply to one of those announcements or contact your instructor.
Please carefully read and think about the entire prompt before composing your first post. This discussion will require you to have carefully read Chapter 4 of the textbook, as well as the assigned portions of Immanuel Kant’s (2008) Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals.
Think of someone real or fictional whom some people regard as a “hero” for helping others, stopping something bad or evil, and so forth, even though by doing so they violated what would normally be considered a moral rule (focus on morality; don't simply think of someone who broke the law). For example, they may have lied, broken a promise, stolen, harmed someone innocent, or even murdered, but done so with good intentions. (Be sure to clearly explain both sides of this example – what seems good and what seems morally questionable about the action.)
Try to think of any example that we would either all be familiar with, or something we can easily look up (in other words, don’t just make something up or describe something generic). Think of characters in movies, TV shows, or books, people in the news, historical figures, etc. Please don’t use an example that someone else has already used!
1. Engage with the text:
Once you have thought of your example, evaluate what they did according to Kant’s Categorical Imperative. First, explain the Categorical Imperative. Is what the person did moral, or immoral, according to the Categorical Imperative? (You may focus on either formulation.)
2. Reflect on yourself:
Do you agree with this evaluation of the action?
If you think Kant would regard it as immoral and you agree, how would you explain to the person in your own words why what they did was wrong despite the good intentions and effects? If you don’t agree, and think that what they did was morally right, how would you respond to the question, “what if everyone did that?”
If you think Kant would regard it as moral, explain whether you agree or disagree, and consider how you would respond to someone who disagrees.