Suppose you see a drowning child in a pond and there is no one else around except you. You want to save the child, but you know you cannot swim. And there is no other means other than swimming in the pond for you to help the child.

What would Kant do in this situation? How can the Categorical Imperative can be used in this situation?

  • I made some edits which you may roll back or continue editing. Welcome to this SE! Commented Nov 21, 2018 at 23:02
  • 2
    Is this HW? Please describe the context of the assignment, and present your own thoughts on the matter in the post.
    – Conifold
    Commented Nov 21, 2018 at 23:34
  • Why can't you swim? Is it completely impossible for some reason? Or is it just that you never bothered to learn how?
    – Bread
    Commented Nov 22, 2018 at 0:22
  • It is just a situation given to us by our professor. Commented Nov 22, 2018 at 0:56
  • Google for "ought implies can Kant" and you will find plenty of material needed to answer this on undergraduate level.
    – Philip Klöcking
    Commented Nov 22, 2018 at 7:36

1 Answer 1


To save the child would be an imperfect duty. Which is logical and acceptable. But while saving the child, if that person died, then the guardian or parent of the child would be guilty of murder. This is because it follows a categorical imperative which says certain precautions should have been taken where this situation would not have happened.

If you do not know how to swim then it is not your duty to save the child by jumping in but rather some other way. I only remember this from studying Kant in an online ethics class.

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