The Categorical Imperative: The Concept Of Kantian Ethics

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The Categorical Imperative
While the maxim, “I will not pay my debts whenever it’s in my interest to do so,” may benefit the individual who borrows money at no cost, it does not qualify as a categorical imperative. The concept of the categorical imperative is a notion of Kantian ethics. Kant states that a categorical imperative entails an action which is not only reasonable, but beneficial to society if everyone were to act this same way. Therefore, this particular maxim does not qualify as a categorical imperative as it not only fails to benefit society when universally applied, but the maxim itself contradicts the actual meaning of the word debt (something, typically money, that is owed or due to another individual or group) in the first
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The first step to understand why this is not a categorical imperative is to generalize the maxim and ask, what the world would be like if this maxim was a universal law? This universal law being, anyone will not pay his or her debts if it is not in his or her interest to do so. While this may coincide with the duty for self-love in potentially securing the future prosperity of the borrower, it indeed contradicts itself. If everyone had this mindset, then no one would trust the promises made to them, therefore, there would be no borrowing or lending. Regardless, even if this maxim was conceivable, could it be willed as a universal law? No, one could not will this as a universal law ergo no one would respect promises. The borrower could never actually be sure that they would receive the money to begin with and the lender would never trust that they would receive the money back after the specified period of time. This idea would ruin the concept of debt. If no one felt the need to pay what they owe, debt is more of a symbolic idea than an actual responsibility. Through the destruction of debt, autonomy is eliminated due to the fact that no reasonable human being will act autonomously if they believe no one else will do the

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