Ideas from 'Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals' by Immanuel Kant [1785], by Theme Structure

[found in 'The Moral Law (Groundwork of Morals)' by Kant,Immanuel (ed/tr Paton,H.J.) [Hutchinson 1948,0-09-036033-8]].

green numbers give full details    |     back to texts     |     expand these ideas


1. Philosophy / E. Nature of Metaphysics / 5. Metaphysics beyond Science
Metaphysics goes beyond the empirical, so doesn't need examples
2. Reason / A. Nature of Reason / 4. Aims of Reason
The hallmark of rationality is setting itself an end
12. Knowledge Sources / A. A Priori Knowledge / 5. A Priori Synthetic
The categorical imperative is a practical synthetic a priori proposition
16. Persons / F. Free Will / 1. Nature of Free Will
Free will is a kind of causality which works independently of other causes
16. Persons / F. Free Will / 2. Sources of Free Will
We shall never be able to comprehend how freedom is possible
16. Persons / F. Free Will / 4. For Free Will
We cannot conceive of reason as being externally controlled
16. Persons / F. Free Will / 5. Against Free Will
Kant made the political will into a pure self-determined "free" will [Marx/Engels]
22. Metaethics / A. Value / 1. Nature of Value / a. Nature of value
Kant focuses exclusively on human values, and neglects cultural and personal values [Kekes]
22. Metaethics / A. Value / 1. Nature of Value / d. Subjective value
Our rational choices confer value, arising from the sense that we ourselves are important [Korsgaard]
Values are created by human choices, and are not some intrinsic quality, out there [Berlin]
22. Metaethics / A. Value / 2. Values / c. Altruism
Reverence is awareness of a value which demolishes my self-love
We may claim noble motives, but we cannot penetrate our secret impulses
22. Metaethics / B. The Good / 1. Goodness / g. Consequentialism
The good of an action is in the mind of the doer, not the consequences
A good will is not good because of what it achieves
22. Metaethics / C. Ethics Foundations / 2. Source of Ethics / b. Rational ethics
Kant united religion and philosophy, by basing obedience to law on reason instead of faith [Taylor,R]
The categorical imperative says nothing about what our activities and ends should be [MacIntyre]
22. Metaethics / C. Ethics Foundations / 2. Source of Ethics / j. Ethics by convention
We must only value what others find acceptable [Korsgaard]
23. Ethics / B. Contract Ethics / 2. Golden Rule
The 'golden rule' cannot be a universal law as it implies no duties
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 1. Virtue Theory / a. Nature of virtue
Virtue lets a rational being make universal law, and share in the kingdom of ends
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 1. Virtue Theory / d. Virtue theory critique
Kant thinks virtue becomes passive, and hence morally unaccountable [Annas]
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 3. Virtues / f. Compassion
Generosity and pity are vices, because they falsely imply one person's superiority to another [Berlin]
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 3. Virtues / h. Respect
Kantian respect is for humanity and reason (not from love or sympathy or solidarity) [Sandel]
23. Ethics / D. Deontological Ethics / 1. Deontology
If 'maxims' are deeper underlying intentions, Kant can be read as a virtue theorist [Statman]
Kant follows Rousseau in defining freedom and morality in terms of each other [Taylor,C]
We can ask how rational goodness is, but also why is rationality good [Putnam]
Other causes can produce nice results, so morality must consist in the law, found only in rational beings
The will is good if its universalised maxim is never in conflict with itself
It is basic that moral actions must be done from duty
The only purely good thing is a good will
23. Ethics / D. Deontological Ethics / 2. Duty
A categorical imperative sees an action as necessary purely for its own sake
Kant was happy with 'good will', even if it had no result [Marx/Engels]
Kant has to attribute high moral worth to some deeply unattractive human lives [Graham]
Kantian duty seems to imply conformism with authority [MacIntyre]
Dutiful actions are judged not by purpose, but by the maxim followed
Telling the truth from duty is quite different from doing so to avoid inconvenience
There are no imperatives for a holy will, as the will is in harmony with moral law
Men are subject to laws which are both self-made and universal
23. Ethics / D. Deontological Ethics / 3. Universalisability
Almost any precept can be consistently universalized [MacIntyre]
23. Ethics / D. Deontological Ethics / 4. Categorical Imperative
The categorical imperative smells of cruelty [Nietzsche]
The intuition behind the categorical imperative is that one ought not to make an exception of oneself [Finlayson]
Universalising a maxim needs to first stipulate the right description for the action [Anscombe]
The categorical imperative will not suggest maxims suitable for testing [MacIntyre]
I can universalize a selfish maxim, if it is expressed in a way that only applies to me [MacIntyre]
Why couldn't all rational beings accept outrageously immoral rules of conduct? [Mill]
Act as if your maxim were to become a universal law of nature
Suicide, false promises, neglected talent, and lack of charity all involve contradictions of principle [PG]
Act according to a maxim you can will as a universal law
If lying were the universal law it would make promises impossible
23. Ethics / D. Deontological Ethics / 5. Persons as Ends
Always treat humanity as an end and never as a means only
Rational beings necessarily conceive their own existence as an end in itself
23. Ethics / D. Deontological Ethics / 6. Motivation for Duty
For Kant, even a person who lacks all sympathy for others still has a motive for benevolence [Hursthouse]
Only a good will makes us worthy of happiness
If we are required to give moral thought the highest priority, this gives morality no content [Williams,B]
If Kant lives by self-administered laws, this is as feeble as self-administered punishments [Kierkegaard]
The function of reason is to produce a good will
Actions where people spread happiness because they enjoy it have no genuine moral worth
Our inclinations are not innately desirable; in fact most rational beings would like to be rid of them
24. Applied Ethics / B. Moral Rights / 3. Animal Rights
Non-rational beings only have a relative value, as means rather than as ends
25. Society / A. State of Nature / 4. Natural Rights / a. Natural rights
Rational beings have a right to share in the end of an action, not just be part of the means
25. Society / C. Social Justice / 2. Social Freedom / d. Free market
Kant is the father of the notion of exploitation as an evil [Berlin]
25. Society / C. Social Justice / 5. Right to Punish / b. Retribution for crime
Retributive punishment is better than being sent to hospital for your crimes [Berlin]
25. Society / E. State Functions / 1. The Law / b. Natural law
Kant completed Grotius's project of a non-religious basis for natural law [Scruton]
28. God / A. Divine Nature / 6. Divine Morality / b. Euthyphro question
We can only know we should obey God if we already have moral standards for judging God [MacIntyre]
We judge God to be good by a priori standards of moral perfection
28. God / B. Proving God / 2. Proofs of Reason / c. Moral Argument
God is not proved by reason, but is a postulate of moral thinking [Davies,B]