Groundwork For The Metaphysics Of Morals Summary

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In Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals, Kant does not presume to establish moral laws; he posits the basis for moral law itself. Through this process, Kant introduces the opposing concepts of heteronomy, laws provided externally for the individual, and autonomy, laws established via the application of reason. The implication arises that autonomy under Kant's definition is freedom, and that autonomy is a requisite for moral actions. To fully develop an understanding of this relationship it is crucial to deconstruct and integrate his notions of: will, duty, maxim, and imperative. Humans have the unique ability to perceive natural law, and imagine or will those forces to be different. This aforementioned will is what opens the one-way road …show more content…

The hypothetical imperative relies on a desired outcome: "If you want ____, you must do ____". Duty is removed from the hypothetical imperative. Categorical imperative carries far more nuance in Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals, it takes on three different formulations in the text as moral law. Although these formulations are perhaps simply restating, individually, they provide unique insights into Kant's thinking. In the first formulation, Kant says "Act only in accordance with that maxim through which you can at the same time will that it become a universal law" (Kant 421). The implication of this being that in order for an action to be moral why it is done must be able to be why it is done by anyone, anywhere, at any time. A clear example of this imperative comes when one considers lying. If one lies and presumes that lie to be moral, that lie must then be able to be made the universal law. If lying were the universal law one could not lie as lying relies on truth-telling as universal law to serve its function. In his second formulation, Kant states "Act in such a way that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of another, always at the same time as an end and never simply as a means." (Kant 429) The third formulation, referenced in the footnotes as the "formula of autonomy", is as follows: "... the idea of the will

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