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categorical imperative


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. In the ethical system of Immanuel Kant, an unconditional moral law that applies to all rational beings and is independent of any personal motive or desire.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A fundamental ethical principle intended as a guide for determining whether any contemplated action is morally right, developed by Immanuel Kant (1724-1804).

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. the moral principle that behavior should be determined by duty


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  • “Act only according to that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it become a universal law.”
    —Immanuel Kant

    (I hope I’m not misquoting, but I like the version without the “should” so much.)

    March 12, 2010