Immanuel Kant was a deontologist, who believed that right actions bind us, or where the right actions come from it, not from consequences. Kantian philosophy outlines the Universal Law Formation of the Categorical Imperative as a method for determining morality of actions. Kant also introduces the notion of the categorical imperative the principle that is followed by all rational and reasonable beings, it is an imperative that we learn a priori by analyzing the nature of morality. A priori is not based on experience. A categorical is a priori, which is unconditional and which is also “ought to be”. For example, 7-15=12. An imperative is a command of reason. First, one creates a maxim and considers whether rational beings would will it to be a universal law. Once it is clear that the maxim passes both prongs of the test, there are no exceptions. As a paramedic faced with a distraught widow who asks whether her late husband suffered in his accidental death, you must decide which maxim to create and based on the test which action to perform. The maxim when answering a widow’s inquiry as to the nature and duration of her late husband’s death (M1) passes both parts of the Universal Law Formation of the Categorical Imperative. Consequently, according to Kant, m1 is a moral action.
Kant presents us with the categorical imperative procedure (C. I. Procedure), which is a moral compass. The categorical imperative procedure contains four steps.
1) Formulate your subjective, maxim.
It is all right to litter on the streets if I do not see a garbage can.
2) Generalize your subjective.
It’s ok for everyone to do this….
3) Universalize your subjective
All rational and reasonable beings will litter when they don’t see a garbage can…(author 101-102).
The initial stage of the Universal Law of Formation of the Categorical Imperative requires that a maxim be universally applicable to all rational beings. M1 succeeds in passing the first stage. We can easily imagine a world in which paramedics always answer widows truthfully when queried. Therefore, this maxim is logical and everyone can abide by it without causing a logical impossibility. The next logical step is to apply the second stage of the test.
The second requirement is that rational being would will this maxim to become a universal law. In testing this part, you must decide whether in every case, rational being would believe that the morally correct action is to tell the truth. First, is clear that the widow expects to know the truth. A lie would only serve to spare her feelings if she believed it to be the truth. Therefore, even people who would consider lying to her, must concede that the correct and expected action is to tell the truth. By asking she has already decided, good or bad, that she must know the truth.
What if telling the truth brings the widow to the point where she commits suicide, however? Is telling her the truth then a moral action although its consequence is this terrible response? If...