categorical imperativecategorical imperative
the Kantian doctrine that one's behavior should be governed by principles which one would have govern the behavior of all people
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.
(plural categorical imperatives)
- Kant himself used "categorical imperatives" in the plural is his exposition in the The Metaphysics of Morals. While within his system there is only one categorical imperative, and thus properly no plural, the several formulations of it by Kant are sometimes referred to as "categorical imperatives." Likewise, the second formulation of the categorical imperative is often called "Kant's second categorical imperative."