How can a business follow the categorical imperative?

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

If you are asking about a business following Immanuel Kant's categorical imperative, the business would have to compete with other businesses, but do so in an ethical way.  There is nothing in Kant's categorical imperative that would necessarily preclude acting in ways that could make a business succeed.

Kant's categorical imperative says that people must always act according to maxims that they would be willing to make into universal laws.  A business could act on such maxims as well.  For example, let us imagine that a business was trying to decide whether to pay a bribe to a government official to allow the business to break a rule.  The firm could then ask itself whether it would be willing to allow other firms to pay bribes to be allowed to compete against that firm's assets.  The firm would presumably decide that they would not like that.  In this case, the categorical imperative would determine for the firm that they should not pay the bribe.

Of course, this can be a dangerous thing for a business.  In some places, businesses do act in unethical ways.  In such cases, it may be difficult for firms to compete if they follow the categorical imperative.