Immanuel Kant & Thoughts on Moral Universal Laws
Are there any moral laws that must be followed by every person?
What is the justification for these universal principles?
I would compare such moral laws to the rational lawfulness that we as humans guide our actions and choices against. Whether moral, ceremonial or judicial, law should uphold a protection of the liberty, property and person and in doing so makes a just law to be followed by every person. A law should not concern itself over anything else that would lead to confliction. Even though, universal moral laws that are followed and/or ought to be followed by every person can vary between individual interpretations and/or situations, they are both guided by the right over what is wrong.
Let’s first examine this quote: ‘I ought never to act except in such a way that I could also will that my maxim should become a universal law’. However, is it true that only a universal law could be the content of a requirement that has the reason of morality?
Let’s draw back upon the moral laws and how judicial laws can contract them. For instance, it is morally wrong to steal, even though one may be stealing bread to give to their starving children, you may consider this just. However, in Kant’s view it is still a morally wrong act. As one ought to act as though it would become universal law, universal theft would be therefore morally wrong and one should not act in this way.
By now it is immediately obvious that there presents itself a contradiction with judicial law, taxation itself enacts and commits this very morally wrong act. You may say that it is moral to give to the poor through taxes. However, in the first case Kant tells us that it is morally wrong to take from one to give to another, in order to prevent all committing theft. So why this exception.
Kant I believe was informing us to hold true to such moral laws as if they were to become universal (judicial laws). This exception is not as such an exception to Kant’s theory, rather it tells us that the law has been corrupted by an immoral act. Here, there exists a duty and obligation to correct a corrupted law before all enact this law as a moral law.