<ethics> Immanuel Kant used this term when discussing the maxims, or subjective rules, that guide our actions. A maxim is universalisable if it can consistently be willed as a law that everyone ought to obey. The only maxims which are morally good are those which can be universalised. The test of universalisability ensures that everyone has the same moral obligations in morally similar situations.
<ethics, moral philosophy> the applicability of a moral rule to all similarly situated individuals. According to both Kant and Hare, universalizability is a distinguishing feature of moral judgments and a substantive guide to moral obligation: moral imperatives must be regarded as equally binding on everyone. The force of this principle, however, depends upon the generality of the judgments and the particularity of the situations to which they are applied. Recommended Reading: Immanuel Kant, Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals, tr. by James W. Ellington (Hackett, 1993); R. M. Hare, The Language of Morals (Clarendon, 1991); Marcus George Singer, Generalization in Ethics (Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1967); and Morality and Universality: Essays on Ethical Universalizability, ed. by Nelson Potter (Reidel, 1985).
[A Dictionary of Philosophical Terms and Names]
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