7 Sep 2022


Deontological Theory and Kant's Categorical Imperative

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Morality which forms the basis of ethical theories is about doing the right or the wrong thing or being right or wrong. Philosophers including Plato, Aristotle, and Kant, made significant efforts in emphasizing on the duty humans have towards each other morally and best ways of ensuring ethical practices

What is deontology? 

Deontology which was advanced by Immanuel Kant is one of the major philosophical, ethical theories which place a lot of emphasis on the relationship that exists between morality and duty. According to Kant, all human beings have rational obligations to each other which are a universally accepted concept. More so all people deserve to be respected since they all have dignity (Misselbrook, 2013). This is a moral duty and obligation that every human being must strive to achieve with their fellow humans. According to Mitchell (2015 p.398), “in other words, is someone else's misfortune also my problem as a fellow human being, or is it that person's problem, which I am free to ignore?”

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The role of the categorical imperative in determining one’s ethical duty 

According to Kant categorical imperative is a type of obligation which is placed on individuals in the various categories of the society which requires them to perform certain tasks or duties (Misselbrook, 2013). The reason Kant refers to this aspect as categorical imperative is the fact that allocation of duties is given in lines of categories either gender, age or mental and physical strength. Most societies adopt such kind of concept in their duty assignment where women, for example, females are the homemaker while the men are the breadwinners. This kind of allocation of responsibilities helps people in making right decisions since they know that the society is watching to see how well they fulfill their duties. Illustrate your understanding of this ethical theory with a concrete example of an ethical dilemma

Benefits and drawbacks of deontology 

A significant advantage of deontology is that it fits with human's inner intuition of doing right and shunning the evil deeds. In addition, deontology helps people to rule out bad actions happening in their society and condemn it so that it stops for a fair and just society. On the other hand, deontology may be hard to apply when an individual is confronted with two moral obligations where he or she feels that choosing either will be disastrous. In addition, deontology is blamed for its attempt human beings to moral beings who are only concerned with avoiding bad choices and actions rather than rational beings endowed with decision-making abilities in various situations (Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy, 2016).

In conclusion living in any society requires the humans in that society to know their duties and obligations so as to coexist peacefully. Theorists are for the idea that human being must be obligated to ensure that their actions do not hurt other individuals. The deontological theory proposed by Kant and which he put as absolute imperative deontology sees people as categorized to perform some duties in the society. However deontological theory far from being beneficial has various drawbacks including moralizing human beings instead off viewing them as rational beings capable of making decisions as dictated by periling circumstances.


Misselbrook, D. (2013). Duty, Kant, and Deontology. The British Journal of General Practice, 63(609).

Mitchell, H. B. (2015). Roots of Wisdom: A Tapestry of Philosophical Tradition. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing.

Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy. (2016). Deontological Ethics. Retrieved from https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/ethics-deontological/.

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