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If it is, then, fourth, ask yourself whether you would, or could, rationally It is clear from above that Johnson thinks “circumstances” can make a difference.It’s not obvious how to apply the categorical in various situations.
Second, recast that maxim as a universal law of nature governing all rational agents, and so as holding that all must, by natural law, act as you yourself propose to act in these circumstances.
Third, consider whether your maxim is even conceivable in a world governed by this law of nature.
Some people think morality is “absolute” in the sense that the situation has no bearing on what we ought to do.
Some people think Immanuel Kant was an absolutist in this sense, and perhaps he was.
It’s wrong to cut people in general, but there are circumstances that override the importance of the harms caused by cutting people, such as when a surgeon is given permission by the patient to do what’s necessary to be healed.
Many people have thought that Kant’s theory is false because it requires us to accept absurd implications, such as the idea that the situation is irrelevant to morality.
For example, “Pay back your debts unless it would be more respectful to not do so,” is an example of a universal maxim.
For example, Socrates discusses a situation when you are borrowing a weapon from a friend, and your friend wants the weapon back while in a rage and wants to use it to murder someone.
Kant argues that “a lie always harms another; if not some other human being, then it nevertheless does harm to humanity in general” (1).
Lies might harm everyone by causing general distrust. It’s almost impossible to understand morality without considering the situation.