Explain how a Categorical Imperative becomes the Moral ..

May 05, 2013 · Notes on Kant's Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals
Photo provided by Flickr

The Divisions of Kants Moral Philo ..

Kant held that ordinary moral thought recognized moral duties towardourselves as well as toward others. Hence, together with thedistinction between perfect and imperfect duties, Kant recognized fourcategories of duties: perfect duties toward ourselves, perfect dutiestoward others, imperfect duties toward ourselves and imperfect dutiestoward others. Kant uses four examples in the Groundwork, oneof each kind of duty, to demonstrate that every kind of duty can bederived from the CI, and hence to bolster his case that the CI isindeed the fundamental principle of morality. To refrain from suicideis a perfect duty toward oneself; to refrain from making promises youhave no intention of keeping is a perfect duty toward others; todevelop one’s talents is an imperfect duty toward oneself; andto contribute to the happiness of others is an imperfect duty towardothers. Again, Kant’s interpreters differ over exactly how toreconstruct the derivation of these duties. We will briefly sketch oneway of doing so for the perfect duty to others to refrain from lyingpromises and the imperfect duty to ourselves to develop talents.

Kant’s theory is an example of a deontological moral theory–according to these ..
Photo provided by Flickr

Kant's Moral Philosophy (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

After 1770 Kant never surrendered the views that sensibility andunderstanding are distinct powers of cognition, that space and time aresubjective forms of human sensibility, and that moral judgments arebased on pure understanding (or reason) alone. But his embrace ofPlatonism in the Inaugural Dissertation was short-lived. He soon deniedthat our understanding is capable of insight into an intelligibleworld, which cleared the path toward his mature position in theCritique of Pure Reason (1781), according to which the understanding(like sensibility) supplies forms that structure our experience of thesensible world, to which human knowledge is limited, while theintelligible (or noumenal) world is strictly unknowable to us. Kantspent a decade working on the Critique of Pure Reason and publishednothing else of significance between 1770 and 1781. But its publicationmarked the beginning of another burst of activity that produced Kant'smost important and enduring works. Because early reviews of theCritique of Pure Reason were few and (in Kant's judgment)uncomprehending, he tried to clarify its main points in the muchshorter Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics That Will Be Able to ComeForward as a Science (1783). Among the major books that rapidlyfollowed are the Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals (1785), Kant'smain work on the fundamental principle of morality; the MetaphysicalFoundations of Natural Science (1786), his main work on naturalphilosophy in what scholars call his critical period (1781–1798); thesecond and substantially revised edition of the Critique of Pure Reason(1787); the Critique of Practical Reason (1788), a fuller discussion oftopics in moral philosophy that builds on (and in some ways revises)the Groundwork; and the Critique of the Power of Judgment (1790), whichdeals with aesthetics and teleology. Kant also published a number ofimportant essays in this period, including Idea for a Universal HistoryWith a Cosmopolitan Aim (1784) and Conjectural Beginning of HumanHistory (1786), his main contributions to the philosophy of history; AnAnswer to the Question: What is Enlightenment? (1784), which broachessome of the key ideas of his later political essays; and What Does itMean to Orient Oneself in Thinking? (1786), Kant's intervention in thepantheism controversy that raged in German intellectual circles afterF. H. Jacobi (1743–1819) accused the recently deceased G. E. Lessing(1729–1781) of Spinozism.

05/05/2013 · Notes on Kant's Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals
Photo provided by Flickr

In the previous section we saw that, on Kant's view, the moral law isa purely formal principle that commands us to act only on maxims thathave what he calls lawgiving form, which maxims have only if they canbe willed as universal laws. Moreover, our fundamental reason forchoosing to act on such maxims should be that they have this lawgivingform, rather than that acting on them would achieve some end or goalthat would satisfy a desire (5:27). For example, I should help othersin need not, at bottom, because doing so would make me feel good, evenif it would, but rather because it is right; and it is right (orpermissible) to help others in need because this maxim can be willedas a universal law.

When we listen to the sea, we know what our moral imperatives are. Enrich the poor. Cure the Sick. Feed the Hungry. Clean the atmosphere. Restore the oceans.
Photo provided by Flickr


Immanuel Kant (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

Kant holds that reason unavoidably produces not only consciousnessof the moral law but also the idea of a world in which there is bothcomplete virtue and complete happiness, which he calls the highestgood. Our duty to promote the highest good, on Kant's view, is the sumof all moral duties, and we can fulfill this duty only if we believethat the highest good is a possible state of affairs. Furthermore, wecan believe that the highest good is possible only if we also believein the immortality of the soul and the existence of God, according toKant. On this basis, he claims that it is morally necessary to believein the immortality of the soul and the existence of God, which he callspostulates of pure practical reason. This section briefly outlinesKant's view of the highest good and his argument for these practicalpostulates in the Critique of Practical Reason and other works.

Immanuel Kant (1724–1804) is the central figure in modern philosophy

If my maxim passes the universal law test, then it is morallypermissible for me to act on it, but I fully exercise my autonomy onlyif my fundamental reason for acting on this maxim is that it ismorally permissible or required that I do so. Imagine that I am movedby a feeling of sympathy to formulate the maxim to help someone inneed. In this case, my original reason for formulating this maxim isthat a certain feeling moved me. Such feelings are not entirely withinmy control and may not be present when someone actually needs myhelp. But this maxim passes Kant's test: it could be willed as auniversal law that everyone help others in need from motives ofsympathy. So it would not be wrong to act on this maxim when thefeeling of sympathy so moves me. But helping others in need would notfully exercise my autonomy unless my fundamental reason for doing sois not that I have some feeling or desire, but rather that it would beright or at least permissible to do so. Only when such a purely formalprinciple supplies the fundamental motive for my action do I actautonomously.