What is Kant’s Doctrine of Categorical Imperative?

Kant hold that the moral life does not have any place for feeling, emotion or sentence. To work under the control of desire is hedonism. In it reason is merely means and such a hedonism is immoral. A moral life is a rational life. From it, feelings and emotions should be completely eliminated. Kant grants purity to only one feeling and that is faith in the moral law. But this is not actually emotion.

Ethical Standards in Journalism

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Kant looks upon every emotion as immoral. In Kant’s opinion, moral law is a categorical imperative. There is no law or authority over it. A duty is always a duty and duty is obligatory. It should be done any way.

Moral laws are universal. They originate only in the real essence of the door. Their basis is the very moral nature of man. Other objects are good in a limited way because their importance is only in special circumstances but good will is good regardless of the circumstance in view of its propriety being independent of the result.


Goodwill is the ultimate good and goodwill is rational will. Thus, acts in harmony with the moral are good in themselves. Actions done with desires and feelings are pure and the feelings the highest. Moral quality is an internal quality. It is Kant’s dictum to do one’s duty, be the result what it will. Moral laws are not qualified by experience. They are not relative to circumstances. In Kant’s opinion, if it is a moral duty to tell the truth then every person should tell the truth in every circumstances.

In the Mahabharat War, the lie perpetrated by Yudhistira and conveyed to Dronacharya would have been an extremely immoral act in Kant’s opinion. Moral laws cannot be violated in any circumstances whatsoever.

Moral Judgement is an unqualified Judgement:

Kant had absolute faith in the value of ethics. Moral laws are the orders of reason while other laws are inspired by the desires. Laws inspired merely by desires are no more than hypothetical imperatives. They are dependent upon external result and circumstances.


Laws of a sensual life contradict the rational laws. External goal can only be a hypothetical imperative. For example, earning wealth cannot be an unqualified command because it depends upon the situation, need and ability of the individual but on the contrary, moral laws, being rational laws, are categorical imperatives. They have no scope for any exceptions and they must be satisfied in all circumstances.

Therefore, they are categorical imperatives. Other laws are based on experience. Moral laws are a priori. They are related, not to ‘What’ but to ‘ought’. They are axiological and not factual.

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