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The Categorical Imperative Applied to a False Promise In the Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals Kant seeks to establish the supreme principle of morality Kant 392 the categorical imperative to act as a standard to which actions can be evaluated for their moral worth Kant believes that actions motivated by personal experience whether through observation indoctrination or some other capacity lack moral worth because such actions are not determined by the conception of moral law When empirical considerations such as effects habit consequence or material objets shape alter and manipulate the will and thus constitute the foundation for an individuals formation of decisions moral problems abound Empirical knowledgeupbringing culture tradition desire aim and consequence prevents moral action because it provides grounds for inconsistencies biases and inclinations to influence the individuals will Therefore Kant believes that morality must be separated from the conceptions that develop posteriori through or after human experience and that moral action must rely on the unalterable element of pure reason As pure reason and respect for moral law direct moral action by influencing will and the conception of duty the separating of morality from aspects of human experience enables individuals to form maxims that allow for their actions to be rightfully willed into universal law which Kant believes is necessary to determine moral content of actions Kants a priori theory of morality addresses the potential problems or contradictions that can arise from universalizing a maxim ie lying promise when he constructs formulations of his categorical imperativerequiring universality in the formation for moral law retaining autonomy of the will and treating individuals as ends in themselves Consequently making false promises is contrary to the categorical imperative because the universal making of false promises would be impossible because if everyone broke their promises the institution of promising would collapseno one would believe promises or accept contracts that they knew would be broken 442 The importance of universal law in determining the moral
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