An Outline of Kant's Foundations of Metaphysics of Morals

Topics: Morality, Intrinsic value, Philosophy Pages: 5 (1404 words) Published: March 20, 2009

The foundation of the metaphysics of morals is a critical examination of a pure practical reason.

The present foundations is the search for and establishment of the supreme principle of morality.

Method: analytically from common knowledge to the determination of its supreme principle; then , synthetically from the examination of this principle and its sources back to common knowledge.

1.the common rational knowledge of morals -> the philosophical rational knowledge of morals 2.the popular moral philosophy -> the metaphysics of morals 3.the metaphysics of morals -> the critical examination of pure practical reason (its foundation)

.transition from the common rational knowledge of morals to the philosophical

(一)a good will: good without qualification

gifts of nature:
talents of mind: intelligence, wit, judgment
qualities of temperament: courage, resoluteness, perseverance If the will ( which is to make use of them) is not good, they can become bad. gifts of fortune:
power, riches, honor, health, well-being, contentment(happiness) A good will is needed to correct their influence on the mind. Thus, the good will seems to constitute the indispensible condition of the worthiness to be happy. some qualities:

moderation in emotions and passions, self-control, calm deliberation They can become bad without the principle of good will. (eg: the coolness of villain)

A good will is not good because of the end, but only because of its willing, i.e., it is good of itself. Even if the end cannot be achieved because of the unfortunate fate , only the good will had its full worth of itself. Usefulness and fruitlessness can neither diminish or augment this worth. Its usefulness would be only its setting. The absolute worth of the good will alone.

Reason’s proper function must be to produce a will which is good in itself but not good merely as a means. This will must be the highest good and the condition of all others, even the achievement of happiness.

The good will dwells already in the natural sound understanding, and does not need to be taught as only need to be brought to light.

The good will always takes first place in the estimation of the total value of our actions.

(二)The concept of duty

Three kind of actions: whether they are done from duty

1.actions which are recognized as opposed to duty, they cannot be carried out from duty, since they conflict with it. 2.actions which are in accordance with duty and to which has no direct inclination, but impelled by another inclination. not from duty but for some selfish purpose --dealer’s story

3.actions which is in accordance with duty and the subject has a direct inclination to do it. --preserve one’s life:
If…, …has no intrinsic worth and has no moral import
because not from duty but from a direct inclination.
--to be kind:
It is on a level with other inclinations, such as honor, fortunately directed to accords with duty. 4.actions which is for neither selfish purpose nor direct inclination but from duty --preserve one’s life:

If he wishes for death but preserves his life, …has a moral import because from neither inclination and nor fear but from duty. --to be kind:
--to secure one’s own happiness:

in accordance with duty / done from duty
popular moral philosophy / the metaphysics of morals

(三)three proposition of morality

1.To have moral worth an action must be done from duty
2.Moral value does not depend on the realization of the purpose but merely on the principle of will. 3.Duty is the necessity of an action executed from the respect for law. subjective element “The necessity of my actions from pure respect for the practical law constitutes duty”p61 I can never have respect for the effect of an action, because it is a mere effect and not an activity of a will. I can have no respect for any inclination because I can at most approve it. Only law itself can be an object of respect and...
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