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Jacques Louis David, The Oath of the Horatii, 1784 - page 28 / 80

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CATEGORICAL IMPERATIVE IV

We have seen that Kant thinks that the goodness of an act does not lie in its effects, but in the conception of the moral law according to which all rational agents should act, and so Kant is not a utilitarian or consequentialist.

In addition, Kant says that the conception of the correct moral law will and must “determine the will,” or tell us what is the correct moral action, and he says that this correct moral law pertains to everyone.

If we look to moral law for correct moral behavior, and not to the effects of actions, then we must ask what kind of law it is to which we are to look for morality.  

The answer, for Kant, is the categorical imperative, the general law from which, and according to which particular moral laws can be tested.

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