Definition of categorical imperative in US English:

categorical imperative


  • (in Kantian ethics) an unconditional moral obligation which is binding in all circumstances and is not dependent on a person's inclination or purpose.

    • ‘Though the advantages resulting from obedience to particular moral laws can be shown, the moral obligation itself is a categorical imperative, something that we feel but cannot explain.’
    • ‘People know what is right and submit to a Kantian categorical imperative - you have to do what you know is right.’
    • ‘Kant gives at least four versions of the categorical imperative, but one is especially direct: Treat people as an end, and never as a means to an end.’
    • ‘Since only free action can have genuine moral worth, the categorical imperative must be not only the supreme imperative of reason, but also the supreme law of morality.’
    • ‘Adorno even conceives of categorical imperatives in exactly the way Kant conceives of them, and they are connected to metaphysics, rather than epistemology, again as they are for Kant.’


categorical imperative

/ˈˌkadəˈɡôrəkəl əmˈperədiv/