Theme three: universalizability
Act only on universalizable maxims.
- A maxim is an explicitly stated principle of practical reason. A fully stated maxim would include:
- a statement of the goal you propose to achieve,
- a description of the action by which you propose to achieve it, and
- a statement of the circumstances under which acting that way will help you to achieve your goal.
- A maxim is universalizable if and only if you could effectively achieve your goal by acting on it in a world where everyone else was pursuing the same goal by acting similarly in similar circumstances.
Note: This characterization of Kant's universalizability test is based on Marcus Singer's analysis of it in Generalization in Ethics (Alfred Knopf, 1961)).
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