In the “Critique of Practical Reason " Kant sets forth his theory of ethics. Practical reason, in Kant's doctrine, is the only source of the principles of moral conduct. Kantian ethics is autonomous. Its autonomy means independence of moral principles from non-moral reasons. The benchmark of Kantian ethics lies not in the actual behavior of people, but in the norms arising from "pure" moral. According to Kant, duty is the source of universal moral standards.
Categorical imperative is the central concept of Kant`s ethical theory. Imperative is a rule that contains an "objective compulsion to act ". The moral law is enforcement, an objective need to act against the empirical effects. It takes the form of a forced decree – an imperative.
The categorical imperative states:
- act only according to that maxim which you would at the same time wish to become a universal law. [ options " always act in a way that the maxim (principle ) of your behavior could become a universal law " ] ;
- act so that you are always concerned for humanity, and in your own face, as well as in the face of every other, act to it as to the purpose, and never treat it only as a mean to achieve something. [optional wording: " Treat humanity in your own face (as well as in the face of the others ) as the purpose and never as a mean ] ;
-principle of the will of each individual must be the will that by its maxims establishes universal law [do all the things according to the maxim of your will as if you would want this maxim to become a universal law for everyone].
The primary source is “Critique of practical reason” by Kant.