Discussion Questions on Kant


1.  Why is a good will the only thing that can be conceived of that can be called good without qualification?

2.  What's the difference between a hypothetical imperative and a categorical imperative.

3.  The United States bombed some targets in Afghanistan on October 7, 2001.   What might the maxim of this action be?

4.  Could this maxim be willed as a universal law?

5.  According to Kant, actions that are done entirely out of inclination, without any consideration of duty or the moral law, have no true moral worth.  But can they be evil?  Can the person who acts that way be morally bad, or is not that person like my dog, Jeeves, not subject to moral appraisal at all?

6.  What is the relationship between the categorical imperative and the Golden Rule?  In precisely what ways are they similar and in precisely what ways do they differ?

7.  Kant writes that there is only one categorical imperative which can be translated into less old-fashioned English as, (C1) "Act only on a maxim that you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law."  Yet he says that the supreme practical principle, which is "in respect of the human will a categorical imperative" is (C2) "Act so as to treat humanity, whether your own or in another person, in every case as an end in itself, never only as a means."  So it seems that Kant thinks that C1 and C2 are in some sense equivalent or identical.  How can he think that?  (Kant also writes, 'The principle: "So act in regard to every rational being (thyself and others), that he may always have place in thy maxim as an end in himself," is accordingly essentially identical with this other: "Act upon a maxim which, at the same time, involves its own universal validity for every rational being.'"  Can you explain what he means?

8.  Why, according to Kant, do human beings have a different kind of value, which is incomparably greater than the sort of value than inanimate things or even plants or non-human animals?