Throughout his book Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, Kant makes claim that moral laws are based on pure, or a priori, duty and rational reasoning alone. By claiming that laws are a priori, Kant suggests that morality must be derived without any reference to empirical judgments (Jankowiak). Additionally, Kant states that all moral laws must be applied universally. In order to determine if actions are morally acceptable and universally applicable, Kant formulates the categorical imperative, which consists of two forms. His first formulation, which is commonly referred to as the Formula of Universal La...
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...rinciple by a German philosopher [Kant], who goes so far as to affirm that to tell a falsehood to a murderer who ask[s] us whether our friend, of whom he was in pursuit, had not taken refuge in our house, would be a crime (qtd in Close).
In his reply, Kant states that one’s moral duty would in fact be to tell the truth to the murderer (Close). However, the practical function of morality would contend that it would be okay for an individual to lie to a murderer to save a friend. Based on this notion, it becomes apparent that Kant’s categorical imperative cannot be applied universally and with absolute necessity because there are circumstances in which it is permissible to fabricate the truth. Kant’s moral philosophy is rather straightforward, so it is difficult to apply his theories to the complexity of everyday interactions, especially in the face of heinous motives.
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