The Kingdom of Ends: Kant's Categorical Imperative

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Reply Thu 28 Jan, 2010 09:33 am
I am writing a debate case, and am using Kant's Catagorical Imperative as my critiron, but I am having trouble understanding the third formula. Could someone help in explaining the three formulas for me, so I can make sure that I am using them right. They are as follows:
The Formula of Universal Law- Act only in accordance with that maxim through which you can at the same time will that it become a universal law.
The Formula of Humanity- So act that you use humanity, whether in your own person or that of another, always at the same time as an end, never merely as a means.
The Formula of the Kingdom of Ends- Act in accordance with the maxims of a member giving universal laws for a merely possible kingdom of ends.
Thank you
 
VideCorSpoon
 
Reply Thu 28 Jan, 2010 04:22 pm
@JustABrainInAVat,
Here is my translation. Honestly, I'm not much of a fan of Kant, so forgive the dryness and shortness. I'm assuming that up to this point, the intricacies of the hypothetical and rational imperatives are known, as well as rational autonomy, etc. etc. I almost forgot to mention the source citation; Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals, in my text this starts around 425 (Prussian academy version).

The categorical imperative (in perspective) is the framework we would use to make moral law. It is the construction of this framework and the system in which we resolve those laws which lead into the first formulation of the categorical imperative, namely the formula of universal law. And to do this, Kant examines four distinct cases; suicide, the formation of false promises, the nurture of natural talent, and helping others.

So take the formula of universal law (Act only in accordance with that maxim through which you can at the same time will that it become a universal law) and apply it to each of those previously mentioned cases. Suicide is immoral (in most but not all cases). False promises are self contradictory, so they cannot be incorporated as moral law and you should not do as Kant states quite a few times). On natural talent and/or the decline thereof, a rational being chooses to nurture talent, etc. On helping others, we should help (and not help) one another, but it would be better to do the former than to excuse the latter. However notice that in all of these examples, they are in many respects hypothetical. There is then conjecture that the first imperative is actually two in one, one of substantive quality and one of formal. Kant seems to be in favor of the formal because the concept of the rational imperative agrees with self consistency, etc. And I do mean "etc." because it goes on and on, but that is probably what you want to know in any case for your debate case.

As far as the formula of humanity, look to 429 where Kant essentially states that the categorical imperative must be based on an objective end to rational will (so that it won't mess with our autonomy). Also keep in mind a previous conclusion that only rational beings are people and animals "things" as they possess no rational will. Now go back to the four examples w used, suicide, false promises, natural talent, helping others. Suicide is wrong because you are actually using yourself to essentially off yourself. However, suppose that you are be tortured by someone, do you then have the right to commit seppuku (lol)? Yes? To cut to the chase, suppose that the body and rational will were placed on scale. If it is the case that the rational will is the only thing with an absolute value, then and only then is it ok to use the body as a means (to commit suicide). Shades of grey I suppose. On false promises, the lie projects the use onto another person, thus it is wrong. On natural talent, it is wrong to stagnate ones natural talent because it natural talent is a way to further the ends of humanity. On helping others, we need to help each other out, otherwise we are just subsisting without doing anything for anyone and not propagating happiness. We need to help other people's interests out in agreement with the imperatives. It must be said at this point that all of what has been said of the formula of humanity derives from pure reason, so it could stand as a moral law.

As to the formula of the kingdom of ends, it is essentially a amalgamation of everything said so far. In the case of the formula of universal law, we see the formation of moral law (i.e. suicide bad, etc). The case of the formula of humanity, we see the utility in the propagation of private ends (i.e. treat people as an end but never as a means). The formula of the kingdom of ends provides an environment for those precepts to be. In a categorical way then, the first, second, and third formulas are ordered in such a way where we; order our will to the point to the execution of our ends to the formation of the system as a whole. But suppose as Kant does that the first two formulas are one in the same, like a substance and its substrate. They both deal with individual choice, right? The third is the incorporation of social context. An example. Suppose you and I made different laws for the same thing. To come together in synergy (I suppose anyway) is to act in accordance with the maxims of a member giving universal laws for a (merely?) possible kingdom of ends.

I'm not an expert on this though, so best to read this in conjunction with your own studies and see if you agree with it. If I can elaborate or help out with anything else, let me know.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Thu 28 Jan, 2010 04:39 pm
@JustABrainInAVat,
JustABrainInAVat;123247 wrote:
I am writing a debate case, and am using Kant's Catagorical Imperative as my critiron, but I am having trouble understanding the third formula. Could someone help in explaining the three formulas for me, so I can make sure that I am using them right. They are as follows:
The Formula of Universal Law- Act only in accordance with that maxim through which you can at the same time will that it become a universal law.
The Formula of Humanity- So act that you use humanity, whether in your own person or that of another, always at the same time as an end, never merely as a means.
The Formula of the Kingdom of Ends- Act in accordance with the maxims of a member giving universal laws for a merely possible kingdom of ends.
Thank you


A KOE would be a society in which all people were treated as ends in themselves, and never as means to anyone's desires.So that, for example, no father will use his son (or anyone else) as a means to his own gratification, but only for the sake of his son's own benefit. Everyone, would then, be valued as persons, and not as things for someone's use. It is a maxim forbidding people from using other people, since, if they do, they are not treating them as people but as objects.
 
Deckard
 
Reply Thu 28 Jan, 2010 08:03 pm
@kennethamy,
JustABrainInAVat;123247 wrote:

The Formula of the Kingdom of Ends- Act in accordance with the maxims of a member giving universal laws for a merely possible kingdom of ends.
Thank you


kennethamy;123340 wrote:
A KOE would be a society in which all people were treated as ends in themselves, and never as means to anyone's desires.So that, for example, no father will use his son (or anyone else) as a means to his own gratification, but only for the sake of his son's own benefit. Everyone, would then, be valued as persons, and not as things for someone's use. It is a maxim forbidding people from using other people, since, if they do, they are not treating them as people but as objects.


Did Kant think of a KOE as an achievable goal in some distant future or was it just a "merely possible kingdom" hypothesized in order to create another formulation of the categorical imperative?
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Fri 29 Jan, 2010 06:16 am
@Deckard,
Deckard;123382 wrote:
Did Kant think of a KOE as an achievable goal in some distant future or was it just a "merely possible kingdom" hypothesized in order to create another formulation of the categorical imperative?


I really don't know. It could have been both. He certainly thought that is how a society ought to be.
 
Deckard
 
Reply Sat 30 Jan, 2010 02:45 pm
@kennethamy,
I would say that the use of the word "Kingdom" is contingent upon Kant's place in history (Kingdom of Prussia under the reign of King Frederich William I & II). Revolution went on elsewhere in France and America. An American or French Kant would have said "Republic of Ends." But it could also be read as a secular version of "The Kingdom of God."

Here's one place Kant applies/translates the Categorical imperative to the realm of political theory.

"Every action which by itself or by its maxim enables the freedom of each individual's will to co-exist with the freedom of everyone else in accordance with a universal law is right." - Metaphysics of Morals

This is basically the categorical imperative but instead of talking about treating people as ends he talks about co-existing freedoms.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sat 30 Jan, 2010 02:50 pm
@Deckard,
Deckard;123726 wrote:
I would say that the use of the word "Kingdom" is contingent upon Kant's place in history (Kingdom of Prussia under the reign of King Frederich William I & II). Revolution went on elsewhere in France and America. An American or French Kant would have said "Republic of Ends." But it could also be read as a secular version of "The Kingdom of God."

Here's one place Kant applies/translates the Categorical imperative to the realm of political theory.

"Every action which by itself or by its maxim enables the freedom of each individual's will to co-exist with the freedom of everyone else in accordance with a universal law is right." - Metaphysics of Morals

This is basically the categorical imperative but instead of talking about not treating people as ends he talks about co-existing freedoms.


You mean, "treating people as ends". That's right. As Mill said, we ought never to infringe on the rights of others.
 
Deckard
 
Reply Sat 30 Jan, 2010 03:41 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;123728 wrote:
You mean, "treating people as ends". That's right. As Mill said, we ought never to infringe on the rights of others.


Yeah, thanks that's what I meant. Shucks. 'Not treating people as means' that is 'treating people as ends'. I'll correct it on the original.

Another observation: There is a difference between a moral imperative and a political law. In the Kingdom of Ends formulation Kant is using a hypothetical political legal system to formulate/illustrate/explain the moral imperative. You don't have to be moral to obey a political law. Is there an elegant way to articulate the difference between moral law and political law?
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sat 30 Jan, 2010 03:56 pm
@Deckard,
Deckard;123752 wrote:
Yeah, thanks that's what I meant. Shucks. 'Not treating people as means' that is 'treating people as ends'. I'll correct it on the original.

Another observation: There is a difference between a moral imperative and a political law. In the Kingdom of Ends formulation Kant is using a hypothetical political legal system to formulate/illustrate/explain the moral imperative. You don't have to be moral to obey a political law. Is there an elegant way to articulate the difference between moral law and political law?


I don't know whether this is more elegant, but, anyway:

Malum in se (plural mala in se) is a Latin phrase meaning wrong or evil in itself. This concept is a part of the value consensus model explanation of the origins of the criminal law. The phrase is used to refer to conduct assessed as inherently wrong by nature, independent of regulations governing the conduct. It is distinguished from malum prohibitum, which is wrong only because it is prohibited. For example, murder of human beings is universally agreed to be wrong by other human beings, regardless of whether a law exists or where the conduct occurs, and is thus recognizably malum in se. In contrast, consider driving laws. In the U.S., people drive on the right-hand side of the road. In the UK and other states of the Commonwealth, people drive on the left-hand side. Violation of these rules is an example of a malum prohibitum law because the act is not inherently bad, but is forbidden by policy, as set forth by the policy-makers of the jurisdiction. Malum prohibitum crimes are criminal not because they are inherently bad, but because the prohibited act is forbidden by the policy of the state.
This concept was used to develop the various common law crimes.[1] It may be criticized by remarking that if murder and rape may be considered generally defined as crimes, the inclusion of different behaviors that can be punished under such indictments are culturally variable (see marital rape, statutory rape, infanticide). (Wikipedia).
 
JustABrainInAVat
 
Reply Sat 30 Jan, 2010 09:37 pm
@kennethamy,
Thank you, this has helped clear some stuff up. It should be much easier to write the case now that I understand my case more.
 
 

 
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