The Moral Law: Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals (Routledge Classics)
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Few books have had as great an impact on intellectual history as Kant's The Moral Law. In its short compass one of the greatest minds in the history of philosophy attempts to identify the fundamental principle 'morality' that governs human action.
Supported by a clear introduction and detailed summary of the argument, this is not only an essential text for students but also the perfect introduction for any reader who wishes to encounter at first hand the mind of one of the finest and most influential thinkers of all time.
with the application of this principle (although it occasionally gives illustrations of the way in which such applications may be made). Hence we should not expect from this book any detailed account of the application of moral principles, nor should we blame Kant for failing to supply it—still less should we invent theories of what he must have thought on this subject. If we want to know how he applied his supreme principle, we must read his neglected Metaphysic of Morals. In the Groundwork
overcoming of obstacles) would not apply to such a perfect will. Pages 8–13—The Motive of Duty A human action is morally good, not because it is done from immediate inclination—still less because it is done from self-interest—but because it is done for the sake of duty. This is Kant’s first proposition about duty, though he does not state it in this general form. An action—even if it accords with duty and is in that sense right—is not commonly regarded as morally good if it is done solely out
efficient causes we take ourselves to be free so that we may conceive ourselves to be under moral laws in the order of ends; and we then proceed to think of ourselves as subject to moral laws on the ground that we have described our will as free. Freedom and the will’s enactment of its own laws are indeed both autonomy—and therefore are reciprocal concepts11—but precisely for this reason one of them cannot be used to explain the other or to furnish its ground. It can at most be used for logical
happiness is an end which we all in fact seek, our concept of it is unfortunately vague and indeterminate: we do not know clearly what our end is. At times Kant himself speaks as if the pursuit of happiness were merely a search for the means to the maximum possible amount of pleasant feeling throughout the whole course of life. At other times he recognises that it involves the choice and harmonising of ends as well as of the means to them. Apart from these difficulties, however, imperatives of
realisation of a possible systematic harmony of purposes among men; and we have a positive, but imperfect, duty to further the realisation of such a systematic harmony. The qualifications to be attached to such principles are necessarily omitted in such a book as the Groundwork. Pages 57–59—The Canon of Moral Judgement The general canon of moral judgement is that we should be able to will that the maxim of our action should become a universal law (of freedom). When we consider our maxims as