Categorical Imperative

According to the German Philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) the normative evaluation of our moral obligations ultimately rests on a single, absolute, objective moral principle called the Categorical Imperative. This principle is given three distinct formulations by Kant in the Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals:

Kant considers this imperative to be categorical since it is good in-itself, not as a means to some other end. Any moral duty or obligation which is considered good in that it secures something else is properly considered an Hypothetical Imperative. For example, when a Consequentialist claims that a particular principle is right because it produces the greatest amount of happiness, they are exercising an Hypothetical Imperative. For Kant, to be truly moral, a principle must be good-in-itself, good for its own sake regardless of the consequences.