Kant's Metaphysics of Morals: Summary & Analysis

general article writing


The preface and the first section (pp. 1-17) of Kant'sGrounding for the Metaphysics of Morals.

Preface and First Section (pp. 1-17)

  • Kant says that there are both laws of nature and laws of freedom and that there is a science of each. What is the science of the laws of nature and what is the science of the laws of freedom?
  • Why isn’t conformity to the moral law sufficient for being morally good (390)?
  • What does Kant say Grounding is intended for (392)?
  • What is the only thing in the universe that can be regarded as good without qualification?
  • Why can’t “coolness” or level-headedness be considered good without qualification?
  • Is happiness the proper goal of rational creatures? Why or why not?
  • Kant explains four cases of actions done in accord with duty but not out of duty. What’s the difference between doing an action in accord with duty and doing it out of duty (footnotes 1-11 are helpful)?
  • What are the three propositions of morality?
  • How important are consequences/effects when determining the moral worth of an action?
  • Kant says that “an action done from duty must altogether exclude the influence of inclination and therewith every object of the will” (400: 13). What does it mean to exclude the influence of inclination and why is that so important to Kant?
  • Does Kant think there has ever actually been an instance of someone acting purely from duty? Even if there never had been such an example, would that invalidate his theory?
  • What’s the difference between hypothetical imperatives and categorical imperatives (414-416: 27-28)?
  • On page 30 Kant argues that all of our duties can be derived from the Categorical Imperative (CI).  He then gives four examples of how this can be done.  Explain how the duty not to lie can be derived from CI.
  • Explain how the duty to cultivate oneself can be derived from CI.
  • What kind of faculty is the will (p. 35)?
  • After enumerating ends & means, things & persons, Kant reformulates CI; what is the new formulation (429: p.36)?
  • On this formulation of CI, how can a duty not to commit suicide be generated (i.e., if one adopts CI as a maxim why will it not be permitted for one to commit suicide)?
  • How can the duty not to lie be derived from this version of CI?
  • What is the kingdom of ends?
  • When is a rational being a member of the kingdom of ends?
  • What’s the difference between price and dignity? What is the only thing that has dignity?

please read paragraphs 406-435 of the second section (pp. 19-41).

Second Section, paragraphs 406-435 (pp. 19-41)

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