Essay on the Kant’s First Moral Maxim

“Act only on that maxim which thou cannot at the same time, will be becomes a universal law.”

59 - The Morality of Kant - University Publishing Online

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In order to elucidate this statement, Kant adopts the example of promise – breaking. If the law of promise breaking becomes universal, or in other words, if every one starts violating premises, then promise would no longer retain any meaning. In the same way, a person in an extreme state of depression, can contempt late suicide but this is wrong, not capable of becoming one. If every one stars committing suicide soon no will be left to carry on the law.



Kant’s first Moral maxim can be criticized in the following ways:

(i) Definite moral laws cannot be derived from it:

Kant wanted to give moral law a concrete form with this principle but it failed to per form this task. The morality of an act depends upon its circumstances that every person does, in a situation, what 1 have done.

(ii) Rigorism:


This law does not grant licence for any exception and therefore becomes rigorous. As Jacobi has said “The law is made for the sake of man and not man for the sake of law.”

(iii) Sometimes exceptions are rules:

It seems to have evaded Kant that sometimes the exceptions are best rules. If all the citizens of a nation become martyrs, then where will be nation be ? The superiority of martydom lies in the fact that every one cannot be a martyr.

(iv) Impractical:


The specialty of this maxim is that it stresses on the social aspect of ethics but being formal, it becomes impractical.

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