A Formalization of Kant’s Second Formulation of the Categorical Imperative

Felix Lindner, Martin Mose Bentzen

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    We present a formalization and computational implementation of the second formulation of Kant’s categorical imperative. This ethical principle requires an agent to never treat someone merely as a means but always also as an end. Here we interpret this principle in terms of how persons are causally affected by actions. We introduce Kantian causal agency models in which moral patients, actions, goals, and causal influence are represented, and we show how to formalize several readings of Kant’s categorical imperative that correspond to Kant’s concept of strict and wide duties towards oneself and others. Stricter versions handle cases where an action directly causally affects oneself or others, whereas the wide version maximizes the number of persons being treated as an end. We discuss limitations of our formalization by pointing to one of Kant’s cases that the machinery cannot handle in a satisfying way.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication date2018
    Number of pages17
    Publication statusPublished - 2018
    Event14th International Conference on Deontic Logic and Normative Systems - Utrecht, Netherlands
    Duration: 3 Jul 20186 Jul 2018
    Conference number: 14


    Conference14th International Conference on Deontic Logic and Normative Systems
    OtherThe biennial DEON conferences are designed to promote interdisciplinary cooperation amongst scholars interested in linking the formal-logical study of normative concepts and normative systems with computer science, artificial intelligence, philosophy, organization theory and law.<br/>In addition to these general themes, DEON 2018 will encourage a special focus on the topic:<br/>“Deontic reasoning for responsible AI’”
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