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The Categorical Imperative
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Tptmanno1
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The Categorical Imperative

For those who don't know, the Categorical Imperative is a doctrine created by Immanual Kant, who what a German philosopher. His concept is basically that before one does any moral action or makes any moral decision, one must take the proposed action, universalize it, without any specific, or self-based references and see if it basically works. The main goal of it seems to be that we end up with a universalized morality that does away with selfish actions.

Kant makes the continued argument that when you do not use a categorical imperative, you are simply acting upon causation, and you are not using your free will. So basically, if you smell a tasty burrito, and decide you want to eat it, the burrito is acting through you, and you really have no choice in the matter, you have given up your free will to the burrito.

He also has several other concepts, regarding not treating people as means, but ends unto themselves, and that when you purchase something, what you are essentially doing is limiting your freedom to spend that money in some other way in the future, in exchange for an item.

But the main topic of discussion is; Is the categorical imperative a conceivable way of living one's life and making moral decisions? or is it simply an clumsy attempt at an ideological world?


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Old Post Mar 13th, 2008 07:36 AM
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Storm
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Is it even possible to get all people to agree on any ethical principle?

Kant appeals to our rationality. However, when people act morally, they aren' t always acting rationally. Should only rational considerations be taken into account when considering moral questions?


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Old Post Mar 13th, 2008 12:14 PM
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Tptmanno1
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I believe so, making moral decisions based on emotional or environmental influences leads to rash, and unfavorable outcomes.
I would almost go so far as to say we should never really consider our emotions when making any sort of important decision. We should acknowledge its existence , and maybe take it in to account, but ultimately the decision should be left to our reason.


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Old Post Mar 13th, 2008 04:25 PM
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WanderingDroid
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What I got from the categorical imperative are two things. The Practical reason and the other theoretical reason. My take is that not all decisions require a logical answer for a moral question. You can't be a Vulcan 24/7 morality eventually makes it's way into your state of thinking.


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tsilamini
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the brain is unable to separate emotion from logic

or, phrased more correctly, logic is dependent upon emotional responses. If the emotional centers of a person's brain are damaged, they lose the ability to make rational choices.

The dichotomy is false. What prevents us from simply reacting to outside stimuli (even though I'd argue that is essentially all we do) is not rational thought but inhibition of non-goal specific actions and social conditioning.


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Old Post Mar 13th, 2008 05:16 PM
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Tptmanno1
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Did you mean emotion WD?
Because I agree, I think that you cannot practically use the imperative for every single decision you make, or how you think about everything, because it is simply not practical, but for major moral or belief questions, i.e. regarding abortion or the death penalty, using a Kant based mode of thinking is valid.


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WanderingDroid
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quote: (post)
Originally posted by Tptmanno1
Did you mean emotion WD?
Because I agree, I think that you cannot practically use the imperative for every single decision you make, or how you think about everything, because it is simply not practical, but for major moral or belief questions, i.e. regarding abortion or the death penalty, using a Kant based mode of thinking is valid.


I would agree on this...not every single decision we make in our lives requires the categorical imperative...however, in topics like you mention it may require a more "critical thinking". Thinking without emotions isn't easy...I've tried...and hurts my brain.


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Old Post Mar 13th, 2008 11:07 PM
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Tptmanno1
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But the conclusion you reach after it is so much more satisfying because you have real tangible reasoning as to why you have the belief.
As it is with all rational and philosophical thinking, the work put it is always worth it.


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Old Post Mar 14th, 2008 07:25 AM
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Fire
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Kants idea of using rationality to base your decisions on isn't bad. But for it to have a significant effect on society as a whole almost everbody needs to use this logic. That seems to optimistic to me.

People aren't rational choice actors. We do not measure all our decisions in costs and benefits


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Old Post Mar 14th, 2008 08:53 AM
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Digi
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It seems to assume free will in a non-deterministic sense (I would say a Christian sense, but that would imply a religiosity to it that isn't there). So it invalidates even the pursuit of such an imperative, because it is operating under a false premise, imo.


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Old Post Mar 14th, 2008 09:53 PM
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Tptmanno1
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I'm not sure if I'm folloing your argument correctly?
Are you saying that, If reason is universal, if anyone uses reason to come to a decision, anyone else faced with the same problem, would come to the same conclusion? So we are lacking in free will because if we make ration based decision, then we all come to the same answer and thus really have no say in the matter?

Because Kant would directly disagree with that. He would in fact say the total opposite, that when you are NOT using reason and his categorical imperative, you have no free will, and only when you do, do you become truly free.


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Old Post Mar 15th, 2008 02:42 PM
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You'd have to define his definition of free will. Because in the normal Western sense of the term, it makes very little sense (to me at least). Free will, in other definitions, can and does exist within a deterministic setting, and I could endorse such definitions of it. But without knowing which he is referring to, it's kinda hard to say.

Though I do kinda have a problem with saying only reason leads to the usage of free will. If someone is totally irrational in their beliefs and decisions, and never defers to reason, but they aren't being forced into decisions by anyone else and are acting upon the thoughts and physical forces within them, I see that as being free.


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Old Post Mar 15th, 2008 04:21 PM
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Pezmerga
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Lol this reminds me of the song Cygnus Book II Hemispheres by Rush. forgive me but I think it makes a good point...

The story of the side-long suite "Cygnus X-1 - Book II" begins with an expository lyric stating the cause of the current situation in the story being the competition of the gods Apollo and Dionysus for the "fate of man." Apollo is first shown wooing the people with "truth and understanding, wit and wisdom fair" as "precious gifts beyond compare." The people delight in these gifts and commence to an "age of enlightenment," yet they feel something is missing, it has become an intellectual exercise divorced from human meaning. Dionysus enters the song at this stage with promises of "love" and suggests the people throw off the "chains of reason." The cities are abandoned and a Woodstock-like bacchanel commences, but the people, having abandoned reason, find themselves at the mercy of the elements. The people began to fight over the solution to their ills in an all-or-nothing approach (reason OR emotion). The world becomes divided into "sorry hemispheres" (hence the connection to the "pop" psychology of the right and left brain mythos.) Tales are told of a messianic "bringer of balance," who turns out to be the protagonist of the song "Cygnus X-1" from A Farewell to Kings ("Cygnus" being the constellation at which the hero enters the black hole, at which point the story was "to be continued," according to the liner notes of the album.) The character, as an outsider, has a "gods-eye" view of the battle, and from his vantage point, can see that which the people cannot, that they have divided themselves by a false dichotomy, astonishing the gods themselves, who recognize the wisdom of his view. The character becomes known as "Cygnus, the god of Balance."

Balance is the key imo. You can't live on reason alone.


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quote: (post)
Originally posted by Tptmanno1
For those who don't know, the Categorical Imperative is a doctrine created by Immanual Kant, who what a German philosopher. His concept is basically that before one does any moral action or makes any moral decision, one must take the proposed action, universalize it, without any specific, or self-based references and see if it basically works. The main goal of it seems to be that we end up with a universalized morality that does away with selfish actions.


Universalized morality? Sounds like moral absolutes derived logically.


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Old Post Mar 15th, 2008 07:42 PM
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Digi
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quote: (post)
Originally posted by Mindship
Universalized morality? Sounds like moral absolutes derived logically.


...like Ayn Rand. Except she went nuts and formed a cult around herself later in life, thinking she had defined objective truth sufficiently to deem herself always "right."

Anyway, I'm very much a relativist when it comes to morality, so it's not something that has ever really appelaed to me.


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Old Post Mar 15th, 2008 08:50 PM
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Is a society that regards rationality as more important that hapiness that, appealing ? I don't think so , but Kant was still brilliant !

Long Live Jean Paul Satre !

Old Post Mar 26th, 2008 11:21 PM
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chithappens
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quote: (post)
Originally posted by inimalist
the brain is unable to separate emotion from logic

or, phrased more correctly, logic is dependent upon emotional responses. If the emotional centers of a person's brain are damaged, they lose the ability to make rational choices.

The dichotomy is false. What prevents us from simply reacting to outside stimuli (even though I'd argue that is essentially all we do) is not rational thought but inhibition of non-goal specific actions and social conditioning.


I disagree with this. It is possible but emotions dictate action even if logic says its a dumb hting to do.

You have proven me wrong before with research so yea... stick out tongue


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Old Post Mar 30th, 2008 04:26 PM
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Tptmanno1
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quote: (post)
Originally posted by Cartesian Doubt
Is a society that regards rationality as more important that hapiness that, appealing ? I don't think so , but Kant was still brilliant !

Long Live Jean Paul Satre !


Could it be that a society that regards rationality higher than direct happiness could achieve both to a greater degree?
J.S. Mill seems to agree...


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Old Post Mar 31st, 2008 07:19 AM
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Cartesian Doubt
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quote: (post)
Originally posted by Tptmanno1
Could it be that a society that regards rationality higher than direct happiness could achieve both to a greater degree?
J.S. Mill seems to agree...


Yeah, but he disregarded Moral absolutes, something that Kant's theory makes 'Imperative'

Old Post Jun 6th, 2008 05:35 PM
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