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Lecture# 8 Pol 320Y1
Monday June 6th 2011
**Reason is the source of all evils
freedom is the being of our rationale capacity
Born in Prussia, died in 1804
three important texts, The Critique of Pure Reason (What Can I know), Critique of Practical
Reason (What Should I do?), Critique of Pure Judgement ( What May I hope?)
Theory of Knowledge, Basic of Ethics
The Groundwork examines laws and principles we give ourselves
How Can we be morally free?
What Would it Mean as Individuals to Give Ourselves our own Laws? Immanuel Kants
What Kant is trying to figure out is if there are fundamental moral principles that govern all
Only rationale beings can choose to govern ourselves in a certain way
All types of animals participate in nature (e.g. eating everyday), but human beings are also
rationale beings and we have the capacity to exercise our agency to the world, that are not
conditioned by the world. Animals can never be rational because there actions are governed
by instinct and nature, or causual chains.
Humans can create their own causality, so we can act in ways that are not conditioned by the
We are not naturally bound to fulfill ourselves in the state of nature, because of our reason and
will, "the true vocation of reaason is to choose the will that is good" if our natural end is not
to be happy it must be to be good, or moral beings because it is in our nature.
Rationale capacity to have morally good will, we may perform good acts but it may be
motivated by bad. My will happaened to produce something of good actions. Good will is
fundamentally determined on the groundwork of our incentives, based on internal
motivatations and not the external outcomes of our actions.
To be moral I have to act on certain principles, which creates moral duties to be moral I have
to act on certain types of principles. What are the Right Principles? Could the Will be based
on the Act of Benevolence? Sympathy?
we cant base the moral good based on benevolence and sympathy it is counter-intuitive,
because our pleasures are fical, volatile and consistently changing.
Differenet people have different conceptions of what happy is. SoWhat Makes a Moral Choice
in Kant's View?
the fundamental law of morality is-I am never to act in such a way in which my maxim
becomes a moral law.A maxim is the principle I adopt based on what action I'm going to
pursue, basically a principle I abide by that goes above all others.
Maxum is broad principle or incentives on which we choose to act
A maxum(acting in a self interested way) not universal
Imperative is a moral ought, a principle you must fulfill
Hypothetical imperative (doing things that are not good in and of itself, means to an end) e.g
math is good to know, because it helps me in other situations. Tells you what to do under
certain conditions (circumstances)
a conditional ought which leads to a conditional good
Categorical imperatives (things I ought to do because they are good in and of itself)
fundamental law and will of morality it governs the will and what it ought to do regardless of
circumstances. This imperative is unconditional.
Kant is ontological ethics certain moral rules and laws that govern us at all times. Categorical
ethics is the foundation of all his groundwork. The ground of morality is based on the
principles of which we act.
deducing principles based on rationality.
In a moral view I cannot universalize a maxum e.g Borrowing money knowing that you
cannot pay it back, it doesn't take into account the consequences faced by the other person
we can have certain duties to others as rationale beings, there is a reason why we have to treat
human beings differently then objects, it is because we are not capable of committing harm to
an object, the object has no rationale conscious. Human beings are capable of setting our own
ends, setting goals and pursuing them.
If I use another rationale being as a means to an end I am treating them like a thing because it
fails to recognize their moral worth, we must treat others as ends in themeselves, as other
E.g. a slave is being used as someone else's means to their own ends.
legality has to do with external laws and morality has to do with internal laws
Can one kill himself? The answer is no because your treating humanity as a means to your
Moral Principles applies to all rationale beings. Kant describes us as autonomous/free beings
so were bound to treat all rationale agents as moral beings.
All rationale beings have dignity this separates rational beings from irrational beings
according to Kant, to have dignity means to be beyond market price