Kant is probably the hardest philosopher to understand. Even the above is an unclear mouthful. So if anyone could lay out a clear explanation of what it actually is, it would make discussing it much easier.Immanuel Kant said:"Act only according to that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law."
This is an ethical discussion. So generally cultural and religious relativism should be left out of it. Arguments should be grounded with some reasoning or experience (such as thought experiments).
Anyways, in so far as I understand, it says something like before acting, we should consider what would happen if everyone made the same decision. He tries to point out that if everyone did that, there would be a contradiction between what the agent (person making the decision in the first place) intends to accomplish and what he would actually accomplish if everyone did it. I think another way to think of it is to say that we should only make choices that we think everyone should make (or at least consider it).
I'll just demonstrate one example, about "the lying promise". Stuart needs money so that he can repay some urgent debt. He asks his friend for a loan, promising to pay it back, while at the same time knows he will never be able to do this. So he's making a promise (usually good) but lying (usually bad).
The categorical imperitive (CI) analysis would first ask what would happen if everyone did that. Well, eventually people would realise no one keeps promises, and so no one would trust each other, and so a promise could never be made - which is what this started with! It's a contradiction because what he uses ends up prevent what he started with. He acts without considering the universal consequences.
Kant doesn't argue from a consequentialist point of view, he considers the intentions more important than the effects (the means over the ends). My post is probably a bit unclear, but I've just started on the CI and am looking for simple clarification and good discussion :)
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