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CATEGORICAL IMPERATIVE

An absolute and unqualified command or prohibition of a law or of one's conscience in interpreting the law. Popularly associated with the Kantian theory of ethics, which centers on the principle "Act as if the maximum from which you act were to become through your will a universal law." It implies that, in the last analysis, each person's own will is the final legislator of what is morally right or wrong.

All items in this dictionary are from Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary, © Eternal Life. Used with permission.

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