Kant: the Universal Law Formation of the Categorical Imperative Kantian philosophy outlines the Universal Law Formation of the Categorical Imperative as a method for determining morality of actions. This formula is a two part test. First, one creates a maxim and considers whether the maxim could be a universal law for all rational beings. Second, one determines whether rational beings would will it to be a universal law. Once it is clear that the maxim passes both prongs of the test, there are no exceptions. As a paramedic faced with a distraught widow who asks whether her late husband suffered in his accidental death, you must decide which maxim to create and based on the test which action to perform. The maxim "when answering a widow's inquiry as to the nature and duration of her late husbands death, one should always tell the truth regarding the nature of her late husband's death" (M1) passes both parts of the Universal Law Formation of the Categorical Imperative. Consequently, according to Kant, M1 is a moral action. The initial stage of the Universal Law Formation of the Categorical Imperative requires that a maxim be universally applicable to all rational beings. M1 succeeds in passing the first stage. We can easily imagine a world in which paramedics always answer widows truthfully when queried. Therefore, this maxim is logical and everyone can abide by it without causing a logical impossibility. The next logical step is to apply the second stage of the test. The second requirement is that a rational being would will this maxim to become a universal law. In testing this part, you must decide whether in every case, a rational being would believe that the morally correct action is to tell the truth. First, it is clear that the widow expects to know the truth. A lie would only serve to spare her feelings if she believed it to be the truth. Therefore, even people who would consider lying to her, must concede that the correct and expected action is to tell the truth. By asking she has already decided, good or bad, that she must know the truth. What if telling the truth brings the widow to the point where she commits suicide, however? Is telling her the truth then a moral action although its consequence is this terrible response? If telling the widow the truth drives her to commit suicide, it seems like no rational being would will the maxim to become a universal law. The suicide is, however, a consequence of your initial action. The suicide has no bearing, at least for the Categorical Imperative, on whether telling the truth is moral or not. Likewise it is impossible to judge whether upon hearing the news, the widow would commit suicide. Granted it is a possibility, but there are a multitude of alternative choices that she could make and it is impossible to predict each one. To decide whether rational being would will a maxim to become a law, the maxim itself must be examined rationally and not its consequences. Accordingly, the maxim passes the second test. Conversely, some people might argue that in telling the widow a lie, you spare her years of torment and suffering. These supporters of "white lies" feel the maxim should read, "When facing a distraught widow, you should lie in regards to the death of her late husband in order to spare her feelings." Applying the first part of the Universal Law Formation of the Categorical Imperative, it appears that this maxim is a moral act. Certainly, a universal law that prevents the feelings of people who are already in pain from being hurt further seems like an excellent universal law. Unfortunately for this line of objection, the only reason a lie works is because the person being lied to believes it to be the truth. In a situation where every widow is lied to in order to spare her feelings, then they never get the truth. This leads to a logical contradiction because no one will believe a lie if they know it a lie and the maxim fails. Perhaps the die-hard liar can regroup and test a narrower maxim. If it is narrow enough so that it encompasses only a few people, then it passes