Intro to Philosophy
Notes: Phil 1
● Topics for today:
○ What is the goal of Kant’s moral philosophy?
○ What is the “good will”, according to Kant?
● The ought
○ Kant’s Groundwork is concerned with the “ought”, what he calls the supreme
principle of morality.
○ This is the standard to which we hold ourselves when we evaluate our actions
(judge them to be right or wrong).
○ Kant defines this standard as a law - the law of freedom
○ This law cannot be found in the natural world, since the laws of nature only
determine what does happen, not what ought to happen (even when it doesn’t)
○ In other worlds, a natural order to which all humans and things reside
● Nature does not tell us what we should do.
● Under Kant, a question we can ask is: should they have done this thing?
● Laws of freedom, according to Kant, are the laws that determine what human beings
ought to do
● Why law of freedom?
○ Kant calls the ought the law of freedom because it only makes sense of hold
people to standards, even if they are free to meet them
○ Example: no matter how terrible your childhood may have been, we expect you to
do the right thing.
○ Meaning: no matter the cause, there is always opportunity to be morally
correct. Ti be free is to be morally correct.
○ And when we expect you to do the right thing, we are assuming that you are free
to do it.
○ So for Kant (unlike Hume), freedom requires the ability to act against all of your
○ But it does not mean the ability to act randomly, but the ability to do the right
○ Think Socrates/Descartes’ idea of forms and perfect beings.
● Universality and Necessity
○ The law of freedom is not limited to humans, but all rational beings, and it is
absolutely necessary to do.
● You can't get universality and necessity from experience!
○ Kant agrees with POWERPOINT