Kant thinks that the basic moral principles of our society come from people’s rationality, and people must follow these principles unconditionally. These moral principles are the Categorical Imperative. Meanwhile, its common rules have different directions in society. To conclude these directions, it can be reflected from three different formulations. Among the three formulations, the first formulation of universal law has standout features in the maxim and the constraints about people’s behaviors. With combined analysis of examples, the drawbacks of universal law also appear out.
For evaluating and explaining to prove the flaws of the universal law, the specific understanding about the meaning of maxim is essential because it is the core for the universal law. Maxim is the subjective principle and rule of people. People’s actions rely on these principles. In addition, the maxim usually refers to individual behaviors criterion for rational beings. If the principle or maxim which determines people’s will cannot be widely effective for the rational beings, this maxim of will only is applicable for a specific individual. In this way, this subjective principle is not moral rules, and it comes from personal preferences. Meanwhile, although maxim is the subjective principle, it should become objective and universal principle according to Categorical Imperative. Universal law prescribes the maxim is an objective and universal principle. If the maxim is regard as the subjective principle, it will be not applicable for moral life. It will violate the meaning of moral worth because not all of the subjective maxims derive from sense of duty. Maxim should be matched with universal principle. Only in this way, the maxim could become the universal law and the standard of people’s action simultaneously.
Universal law is the first formulation of Categorical Imperative. It states that “Act only according to that maxim whereby you can at the same time [rationally] will that it become a universal law” (Bergeron and Tramel 239). In this definition, the maxim is the objective principle. People need to act in accordance to the objective maxim, and the maxim has become the universal law through the judgments of will. The key point of this formulation is whether the maxim is universalizable or not. If the maxim is universalizable, it is the objective principle. People need to act and obey this objective maxim in moral life. Otherwise, the maxim is only the subjective principle, and people should not apply their subjective maxims into the moral life. People will betray the universal law only by means of their subjective maxims, and this behavior is not allowed in Categorical Imperative. The formulation of universal law is the basis of Categorical Imperative.
However, everything has advantages and disadvantages, even the formulation of universal law. The outstanding point of universal law stresses that people’s moral behaviors should have objectivity. Whether the...