Kant's Categorical Imperative
The categorical imperative is the formal articulation of our duty, a universal obligation. In other words, it is what we must do (or refrain from doing) in all circumstances. Kant provides four formulations of the categorical imperative:
- Act only on that maxim (rule for acting) that you can will at the same time to become a universal law.
- Never act in such a way as to treat humanity (oneself included) as a mere means, but also always an end in itself.
- Act so that, through your maxims (rules for acting), you could be a legislator of universal laws.
- Act in accordance with the maxims of a member giving universal laws for a merely possible kingdom of ends.
Watch this video which describes the categorical imperative and why Kant thinks it is important.