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 philosophical system of Immanuel Kant, the requirement on any moral law that it apply unconditionally and equally to all rational beings.
(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."