Kant — how many categorical imperatives are there?

Kant says there is only ONE Categorical Imperative, but he also gives about seven versions of it.. you can look them up if you’d like.  This seems to be confusing, but if you think about it in terms of logic, it’s actually true.

The idea is that there is one basic idea that should guide human behavior, don’t do the thing that you wouldn’t will to be universal law.  If you think about it as an umbrella concept, then the other six versions of it are simply instances of or applications of the bigger idea.  So, if you worked backwards from the means/ends formulation, you’d also be able to derive the universal formulation.

This doesn’t mean that Kant can’t count 🙂 — rather, it means that morality is often situational and thus examples of the categorical imperative applied to those situations can be helpful — or not.

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