Good Will and Happiness in the Society
- Define the term categorical imperative and give at least three examples of categorical imperatives that you believe in.
According to the Kantian moral psychology, he holds that the categorical imperative is the fundamental principle of our moral duties. A categorical imperative refers to the moral command or obligation that is universally and unconditionally binding for all members of a given society. The Kantian moral philosophy believes that members of the society treat each other in a manner that they would also wish to be treated (MacKinnon, 2013). The categorical imperative, or command, therefore, guides the morality of human beings since morality is such that an individual is commanded by morality and cannot opt out of it or claim that it does not apply to him. The freedictionary.com defines categorical imperative as ‘the unconditional moral principle that one's behaviour should accord with universal maxims which respect persons as ends in themselves; the obligation to do one's duty for its own sake and not in pursuit of further ends’ (Dictionary, 2003). Kant uses this imperative to explain good will, which refers to the only thing in the society that is universally good (MacKinnon, 2013).
A good example is “running the traffic red light” at dawn when nobody is seeing you in the traffic. This would imply that you would wish that everyone else should also run the red light.
Another example is helping an old lady to cross the road simply because it is a good thing to help others who need our help, and not because you could be punished for avoiding her.
The final example is killing someone simply for telling a lie. This is definitely not the right punishment for telling a lie. At least a lighter punishment would be sufficient.
- Why is it important for you and others to adhere to those categorical imperatives you listed?
According to the moral philosophy and good will, it is important to adhere to these categorical imperatives (MacKinnon, 2013) because, even though there could be no one on the road when the red light was there, it would be selfish and immoral to run the light, even if it seemed to take a little longer. Additionally, helping others is part of good will, which constitutes the indispensable condition of being even worthy of happiness" (MacKinnon, 2013). Even further, punishment should be morally equal to the offense committed, and not outrageous.
- Do you believe most people would agree with your opinion about those imperatives? Why or why not?
I strongly believe that most people will agree with me because the issues indicated above affect everyone in the society. at least we need each other’s help; need to behave in the manner that we would expect others to behave like waiting for the green light; and need imperative judgments in issues in the society.
I like the fact that you compare the categorical imperative to the golden rule, which provide that we should treat other members of the society as we would like them to treat us (Bierma, 2014). You have further explained the Kantian philosophy to coincide with the silver rule. I also like the source you drew from the dictionary about the definition of categorical imperative and I have also been driven to use the same definition since I have found it to provide the best and effective definition. Your examples are self-explanatory as they explain the aspects of good will, happiness, and the general concept of Kant’s moral psychology. However, I believe that you should have incorporated the concept of good will in your discussion since it underlies the philosophy (Bierma, 2014).
Bierma P., M. (2014, March 11). Road Rage: When Stress Hits The Highway.
MacKinnon, B. (2013). Ethics: Theory and contemporary issues, Concise Edition (2nd ed.). Boston, MA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.