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Elements of Moral Philosophy 9: Absolute Moral Rules


Rachels points out the difficulty in defending the position that certain things ought never be done, no matter what the consequences (murdering to save a billion). He first appeals to Kant’s categorical imperative, which says:

“Act only according to that maxim by which you can at the same time will that it should become universal law.”

Rachels brings up the objection of how difficult it is to formulate the rules. If I lie, I’m not necessarily saying I should always lie as the maxim. Maybe my maxim is that it is always okay to lie to save a life.

I would add that it is an unfounded assumption that the categorical imperative is correct. Why should I follow it? It’s not like every time I act, the universe makes it a universal law, so why even consider it?

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