BP # 8 The “College For All Act” Fails The Universal Law Formulation



In 2015 Bernie Sanders made headlines with his “College For All Act”. An article titled “Bernie Sanders Issues Bill To Make 4-year Colleges Tuition-Free” explains what the College For All Act is and how it could “eliminate the $70 billion dollar tuition costs at all 4-year public colleges and universities” (Schramm 1). The article explains how money should not be the main obstacle to success in our society. The article quotes Bernie Sanders, stated, “hundreds of thousands of bright young people cannot afford to go to college, and if millions more leave school deeply in debt.” The article seeks to explain the benefits that the “College For All Act” could have on society. However I believe Kant would argue that Bernie Sanders’ College For All Act is not a rational duty.

Ethical Analysis:

Kant would would argue that the College For All Act fails the Universal Law Formulation. Kant makes a very important point as to why utilitarianism cannot be universally applied. Utilitarianism seeks to explain that only the outcome matters and that a person’s intentions are irrelevant. However Kant argues that this is not always the case because of the concept of the “Good Will”. He explains this as the difference between actions from duty and actions done in conformity. Actions from duty are the ones we do through “Good Will” or solely to do the right thing, while actions done in conformity are the ones that come from an outside or self motivation. Kant explains that there are certain tests that can be done that are referred to as the categorial imperative test. One way to test this is the Universal Law Formulation. The Universal Law Formulation basically states that if the effect or outcome can be universally applied to everyone than the act is considered to be an act of “Good Will” or rational duty. However to test this theory, we must ask what fails this theory and why. Some would argue that the “College For All Act” would fail the first categorical imperative test when it comes to deciding if this was a rational duty through “Good Will” because if everyone just received free college would there really be any reason to get a degree? The main reason some are opposed to the College For All Act comes down to the fact that it fails the first categorical imperative test, the Universal Law Formulation. Some believe that this act cannot be universally applied to every college student or everyone for this matter and still hold value in our society. To me this concept directly relates to the discussion we had about when students take unprescribed Adderall in order to do well on a test, the argument is that if everyone were to take Adderall to seek an advantage, there would be no point to even take it because the advantage would no longer exist. The same concept can be applied to the proposal of the “College For All Act”, if everyone is receiving free education and there is no competition between universities, does a degree still hold value in the job market? While some support this act, it can be argued that the main issue with implementing this act is that it fails the first empirical test and cannot be considered a rational action.


2 thoughts on “BP # 8 The “College For All Act” Fails The Universal Law Formulation

  1. I disagree. I think that a degree would still hold value. Even if a college education was free, that doesn’t mean everyone could just go wherever they want. For example Harvard would still be prestigious, hard to get into, and a degree from there would still have a higher value than one from a junior college.


    1. It would devalue a bachelors degree for public schools though. Ivy League schools have always had and will always hold more value. The act is not in place to change that. It devalues a four year degree at a public universities. Our education system is one of the best in the world because of the competition between colleges. If we have no competition between public universities alone, they have no chance in holding value in the job market, especially when it comes to competing with other private schools as well.


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