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Philosophy/Kants categorical imperative

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Question
Does the categorical imperative provide a reliable guide to good action?

Answer
Dear Yofti Petros,

Well, it's a pertinent yet very difficult question. As with many questions (probably most of them) relating to the theory of morality and ethics, i.e. of human action and of it's value, there is no ready answer. Everybody has to answer them by him-/her-self, with one's own insight, experience, beliefs and presuppositions accepted or rejected etc. You and me, we are of no exception to this general situation.

Returning to Kant and your question. Some claim he doesn't, and present a criticism of the Kant's position. Some claim that he does, and present an apology of his statements and a rebuttal of the critics. You should read them both, or even - all three of them (Kant, those criticizing Kant and those defending Kant) and then judge them (their arguments) by your own judgment. Only then will you know for yourself. The most important criticism of Kant's theory of morals and of the categorical imperative have started with Arthur Schopenhauer, and you could find many good sources on the Internet. Let me quote just a few of them, found relevant after only a short look at them (if after a longer look you will find some of them irrelevant, please excuse me, as I am not a specialist in Kant, which you should have known - or at least: you could have known before asking me this question).
- http://www.faculty.umb.edu/lawrence_blum/courses/465_11/handout_Schopenhauer's_c
- https://www.utm.edu/staff/jfieser/class/300/categorical.htm
- http://philosophy14.blogspot.com/2009/02/schopenhauers-criticism-of-kants-ethics
- https://archive.org/details/cu31924029023310
- http://www.monsalvat.no/mitleid.htm
- https://www.jstor.org/stable/40338189

Best would be of course if you first read the original source texts yourself, starting with Kant:
see: e.g. http://onlinebooks.library.upenn.edu/webbin/book/lookupname?key=Kant%2c%20Immanu
  (especially: http://onlinebooks.library.upenn.edu/webbin/gutbook/lookup?num=5682)
or: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/author/1426
  (especially: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/5682)
or: https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Author:Immanuel_Kant
  (especially: https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Groundwork_of_the_Metaphysics_of_Morals)

- only then passing to his critics, starting with Schopenhauer:
see: e.g. http://onlinebooks.library.upenn.edu/webbin/book/lookupname?key=Schopenhauer%2c%
  (especially: http://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/100434477)
or: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/search/?query=Arthur+Schopenhauer
  (especially: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/44929)
or: https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Author:Arthur_Schopenhauer
  (especially: https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/On_the_Basis_of_Morality)


But if you don't have time or patience enough, you may use some shortcuts (reading some reliable summaries, or some selections of quotations with some good comments).

You may of course start with Wikipedia articles, they present good links to external resources:
- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Immanuel_Kant#Moral_philosophy
(in the bottom you have links to wonderful articles in the Routlege Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy and Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
  - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Groundwork_of_the_Metaphysic_of_Morals
  - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Critique_of_Practical_Reason
  - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Metaphysics_of_Morals

- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Categorical_imperative
  - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deontological_ethics
  - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethics#Deontology

- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Critique_of_the_Kantian_philosophy
  - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_Schopenhauer
  - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_World_as_Will_and_Representation
  - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/On_the_Basis_of_Morality
  - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_Schopenhauer's_criticism_of_Immanuel_Kant's_schemata

Selections of quotations:
https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Categorical_imperative
https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Immanuel_Kant
https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Arthur_Schopenhauer


For a good starting point on both the criticism and defence of Kant and on other positions in the domain of ethics see the "Moral Philosophy Through the Ages" by James Fieser: https://books.google.pl/books?id=9Jl2x7G1G90C&pg=PA173 (contrary to most of the books in Google Books, here it is possible to read the whole book online and not only single pages dispersed here and there). I am not a specialist in Kant to be able to find for you good defendants of his theory.

But for that purpose you may read an answer already ready or ask a new question one or two of the other experts in philosophy here in AllExperts.  
If you take a look at: http://en.allexperts.com/q/Philosophy-1361/index_all.htm
you will find that out of ca. 1280 (32*40) questions in philosophy answered so far, there are 2 questions which contain the word "imperative" and 28 questions which contain the word "Kant". Have you read them (I haven't read them today, butr Kant is not my special field of interest). Some of them are written by experts who are not active any longer with all Experts, but some are written by those active still, Steven R. Storch and J.M.J. West.

J.M.J. West http://en.allexperts.com/q/Philosophy-1361/indexExp_100798.htm
  who in his profile writes "I can answer questions on - but not limited to - (...) Kant (...)" seems to have only three answers to questions relating to Kant to his credit, among them two not having the word "Kant" in the title of the question:
  http://en.allexperts.com/q/Philosophy-1361/2008/10/Critique-Practical-Reason.htm
  http://en.allexperts.com/q/Philosophy-1361/2008/9/philosophy-28.htm

On the contrary Steven R. Storch http://en.allexperts.com/q/Philosophy-1361/indexExp_4938.htm
does not present himself as a specialist in Kant, yet has to his merit 6 answers with the word "Kant" in the title and three more relating to Kant but without this word in the title:
  http://en.allexperts.com/q/Philosophy-1361/2010/9/Categorical-Imperative.htm
  http://en.allexperts.com/q/Philosophy-1361/philosophy-3.htm
  http://en.allexperts.com/q/Philosophy-1361/x-1.htm

Why so? I don't know. Who knows what factors influence those asking the questions to choose among the experts available willing to answer them? Probably the self-description in the expert's profile is not the most important one, if ever taken into consideration. Another example of such a situation, your choice of me to answer a question on Kant, seems to confirm this constatation.

The fact that you have chosen me who have put the following words into my profile to describe myself and my special area of expertise within the vast domain of philosophy:
"I can answer questions concerning Eastern (Oriental) philosophies and philosophers (Indian, Tibetan, Indonesian, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Vietnamese (...))" etc. - (let's spare the space), shows to me that you have probably not read it at all. Otherwise I cannot understand your choice of me as your expert. But I do not want to be impolite and to just reject your question with a very simple yet very precise direct hit prepared for me (and for those in a situation similar to mine now) by the AllExperts service: "This is beyond my expertise". That's why I have written to you what I have written (This is the so-called Pontius Pilate's Third Rule of Argumentation), doing my best and hoping only that you are not disappointed too much (in fact, you shouldn't, if you are really philosophically inclined, only a beginner; and you should, if your question was related to your homework or class assignment - but then, please read my profile again, especially the section "Instructions to Questioner").

All the best

Maciej  

Philosophy

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Maciej St. Zięba

Expertise

I can answer questions concerning Eastern (Oriental) philosophies and philosophers (Indian, Tibetan, Indonesian, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Vietnamese: Hinduist, Buddhist, Confucianist, Taoist and other; alas not Islamic or Jewish) - both in terms of notions and facts (history of their development). I can write in English, French, Esperanto, Polish and Russian, German, Dutch and Norwegian. I can also understand questions in Spanish and Italian.

Experience

I have been teaching Indian and Chinese philosophies since 1987, during 1999-2009 I co-ordinated a project on Oriental philosophies within the scope of the Universal Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Powszechna Encyklopedia Filozofii) published in Polish by SITA-PL in Lublin (10 volumes, containing ca. 500 entries in Eastern philosophies, written by a team of a dozen of Polish scholars).

Organizations
Polish Oriental Society; International Association of Buddhist Studies; Klingon Language Institute; Learned Society of the John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin; Polish Philosophical Association; Universala Esperanto-Asocio.

Publications
Books: "Origin of the World According to Rigveda" (Montreal 1996); "Our Bug. Creating Conditions for Development of the Border Areas of Poland, Ukraine and Belarus through Enhancement and Preservation of Natural and Cultural Heritage" (Lublin 2008); "Migration - a Challenge to the 21st century" (Lublin 2008); "Migracja zarobkowa do Woch" (Job migration to Italy) (Lublin 2008); more than 100 articles in "Powszechna Encyklopedia Filozofii" (Universal Encyclopedia od Philosophy) vol. 1-10 (Lublin 2000-2009); Contributions to the history of the Buddhist classifications of dharmas: Pancavastuka of Vasumitra (Bulletin, Polish Institute and Library, Montreal 1997); many more in Polish; some of them available online, see: here and here (a list up to 2012

Education/Credentials
philosophy (KUL, Lublin, 1976-81); M.A. in history of Indian philosophy (KUL, 1981); Ph.D. in history of Indian philosophy (KUL, 1989); other studies: Indian and Chinese philosophies (Institut Catholique, Paris, 1985-6); Tibetan language (INALCO, Paris, 1985-6); Chinese language (McGill University, Montreal, 1995-7).

Awards and Honors
2012 Golden Medal of Civil Service of Poland; 2012-13 Taiwan Fellowship - Tunghai University (Taichung)

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AllExperts users (since 12/03/2003); Wikipedia readers (since 2004); university students (since 1984);

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