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Kant's Categorical Imperative

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The Categorical Imperative
Analyzing Immanuel Kant’s Grounding for
A Metaphysics of Morals
Anders Bordum
WP 4/2002

January 2002

MPP Working Paper No. 4/2002 ©
January 2002
ISBN:
87-91181-06-2
ISSN:
1396-2817

Department of Management, Politics and Philosophy
Copenhagen Business School
Blaagaardsgade 23B
DK-2200 Copenhagen N
Denmark
Phone: +45 38 15 36 30
Fax:
+45 38 15 36 35
E-mail: as.lpf@cbs.dk www.cbs.dk/departments/mpp 2

The Categorical Imperative
Analyzing Immanuel Kant's Grounding for a Metaphysics of Morals
By Anders Bordum

Keywords:
Categorical imperative, discourse ethics, duty, ethics, monologic, dialogic, Immanuel Kant, Jürgen
Habermas, self-legislation, self-reference.

3

Abstract
In this article I first argue that Immanuel Kant’s conception of the categorical imperative is important to his philosophy. I systematically, though indirectly, interconnect the cognitive and moral aspects of his thinking. Second, I present an interpretation of the Kantian ethics, taking as my point of departure, the concept of the categorical imperative. Finally, I show how the categorical imperative is given a dialogical interpretation by Jürgen Habermas in his approach, usually referred to as discourse ethics. I argue that the dialogical approach taken by discourse ethics is more justifiable and therefore more usefuli.

I
The Synthesis of Rationalism and Empiricism
The philosophy of Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) is in the main inspired by two different schools of thought. Classical rationalism and classical empiricism. The basic difference between classical rationalism and empiricism is that they have opposing views on questions concerning the prime sources of knowledge and the constitutive role of reason. Rationalism traditionally maintains that it is possible to obtain knowledge by reason alone, that everything is in…...

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