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Moral Imperatives - Foot.docx

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Western University
Philosophy 2500F/G

MORALITY AS A SYSTEM OF HYPOTHETICAL IMPERATIVES – FOOT  Rejecting Kant’s derivation of duties from the mere form of the law expressed in terms of a universally legislative will  The necessity of distinguishing moral judgements from hypothetical imperatives  Kant seems to be thinking at least as much of statements about what ought to be or should be done  The distinction between hypothetical imperatives and categorical imperatives appears in characteristic form in the following passages from the foundations of the metaphysics of morals  The hypothetical imperative says only that the action is good to some purpose and the purpose, he explains, may be possible or actual  All men necessarily desire their own happiness  Sometimes what a man should do depends on his passing inclination  Desire convenient substitute for want  Hypothetical imperatives should already be appearing as extremely diverse; a further important distinction is between those that concern an individual and those that concern a group  Unconditional requirement expressed in moral judgements  Where the rule does not fail to apply to someone who has his own good reasons for ignoring this piece of nonsense, or who simply does not care about what, from the point of view of etiquette he should do  A hypothetical use of should gave a hypothetical imperative and a non-hypothetical use of should a categorical imperative, then should statements based on rules of etiquette or rules of a club would be categorical imperatives  Considerations of etiquette do not have any automatic reason-giving force and a man might be right if he denied that he had reason to do what’s done  Attempts have sometimes been made to show that some kind of irrationality is involved in ignoring the should of morality  The man who rejects morality because he sees no reason to obey its rules can be conv
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