Nathan Wilson quotes Immanuel Kant’s categorical imperative, then he invents an instructive dialogue between two students evaluating it:
Kant’s categorical imperative: Act only according to maxims which you can desire to be universal.
Student One: That doesn’t make sense. It’s a cheapened golden rule. Without a creating God imposing it, it’s entirely arbitrary. Logic can’t give you goodness, just validity. And if it could, how would a “rational” law achieve any actual authority in an accidental world?
Student Two rebuts: Think about bicycle theft. What if everyone stole bicycles?
Student One: We’d all have someone else’s bicycle.
—N. D. Wilson, Notes from the Tilt-A-Whirl