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Make sure to answer all questions. Should be over 600 words total. Must be APA format.Is it ever morally permissible to lie to someone? Describe a circumstance in which it seems that lying might make more people happy than telling the truth. Would lying be the right thing to do in that circumstance, or is it our moral duty to tell the truth, even then? Consider what Immanuel Kant would say, and explain that with reference to this week?s readings. Then, offer your own perspective. If you agree with Kant, consider and respond to an objection to his view. If you disagree with Kant, explain why. Discuss the positive and negative aspects of deontological theory as it relates to another of the theories you have encountered in this course.
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The required portions are marked in red on pages 5-6, 10-12, 25-26, and 28-30.
Groundwork for the Metaphysic of Morals
Immanuel Kant
Copyright ©2010?2015 All rights reserved. Jonathan Bennett
[Brackets] enclose editorial explanations. Small ·dots· enclose material that has been added, but can be read as
though it were part of the original text. Occasional ?bullets, and also indenting of passages that are not quotations,
are meant as aids to grasping the structure of a sentence or a thought. Every four-point ellipsis . . . . indicates the
omission of a brief passage that seems to present more difficulty than it is worth. Longer omissions are rerported
between square brackets in normal-sized type.] In the title, ?Groundwork? refers not to the foundation that is laid
but to the work of laying it.
First launched: July 2005
Last amended: September 2008
Contents
Preface
1
Chapter 1: Moving from common-sense knowledge to philosophical knowledge about morality
5
Chapter 2: Moving from popular moral philosophy to the metaphysic of morals
14
Chapter 3: Moving from the metaphysic of morals to the critique of pure practical reason
41
Groundwork
Immanuel Kant
Preface
Preface
hand, can each have an empirical part; indeed, they must
do so because each must discover the laws ·for its domain·.
For ?the former, these are the laws of nature considered as
something known through experience; and for ?the latter,
they are the laws of the human will so far as it is affected by
nature. ·The two sets of laws are nevertheless very different
from one another·. The laws of nature are laws according to
which everything does happen; the laws of morality are laws
according to which everything ought to happen; they allow
for conditions under which what ought to happen doesn?t
happen.
?Empirical philosophy is philosophy that is based on
experience. ?Pure philosophy is philosophy that presents
its doctrines solely on the basis of a priori principles. Pure
philosophy ·can in turn be divided into two·: when it is
entirely formal it is ?logic; when it is confined to definite
objects of the understanding, it is ?metaphysics.
In this way there arises the idea of a two-fold metaphysic?
a metaphysic of nature and a metaphysic of morals. Physics,
therefore, will have an empirical part and also a rational
part, and ethics likewise, though here the empirical part may
be called more specifically ?practical anthropology? and the
rational part ?morals? in the strict sense.
All crafts, trades and arts have profited from the division
of labour; for when ?each worker sticks to one particular
kind of work that needs to be handled differently from all
the others, he can do it better and more easily than when
?one person does everything. Where work is not thus differentiated and divided, where everyone is a jack-of-all-trades,
the crafts remain at an utterly primitive level. Now, here is
a question worth asking: Doesn?t pure philosophy in each
of its parts require a man who is particularly devoted to
that part? Some people regularly mix up the empirical with
the rational, suiting their mixture to the taste of the public
Ancient Greek philosophy was divided into three branches
of knowledge: ?natural science, ?ethics, and ?logic. This
classification perfectly fits what it is meant to fit; the only
improvement it needs is the supplying of the principle on
which it is based; that will let us be sure that the classification does cover all the ground, and will enable us to
define the necessary subdivisions ·of the three broad kinds of
knowledge·. [Kant, following the Greek, calls the trio Physik, Ethik and
Logik. Our word ?physics? is much too narrow for Physik, which is why
?natural science? is preferred here. What is lost is the surface neatness of
the Greek and German trio, and of the contrast between natural science
and metaphysics, Physik and Metaphysik ]
There are two kinds of rational knowledge:
?material knowledge, which concerns some object, and
?formal knowledge, which pays no attention to differences between objects, and is concerned only with the
form of understanding and of reason, and with the
universal rules of thinking.
Formal philosophy is called ??logic?. Material philosophy?
having to do with definite objects and the laws that govern
them?is divided into two parts, depending on whether the
laws in question are laws of ?nature or laws of ?freedom.
Knowledge of laws of the former kind is called ??natural
science?, knowledge of laws of the latter kind is called ??ethics?.
The two are also called ?theory of nature? and ?theory of
morals? respectively.
?Logic can?t have anything empirical about it?it can?t
have a part in which universal and necessary laws of thinking
are derived from experience. If it did, it wouldn?t be logic?i.e.
a set of rules for the understanding or for reason, rules that
are valid for all thinking and that must be rigorously proved.
The ?natural and ?moral branches of knowledge, on the other
1
Groundwork
Immanuel Kant
Preface
absolute necessity; ?that the command: You are not to lie
doesn?t apply only to human beings, as though it had no
force for other rational beings (and similarly with all other
moral laws properly so called); ?that the basis for obligation
here mustn?t be looked for in people?s natures or their
circumstances, but ·must be found· a priori solely in the
concepts of pure reason; and ?that any precept resting on
principles of mere experience may be called a practical rule
but never a moral law. This last point holds even if there
is something universal about the precept in question, and
even if its empirical content is very small (perhaps bringing
in only the motive involved).
Thus not only are moral laws together with their principles essentially different from all practical knowledge involving anything empirical, but all moral philosophy rests
solely on its pure ·or non-empirical· part. Its application
to human beings doesn?t depend on knowledge of any facts
about them (anthropology); it gives them, as rational beings,
a priori laws?·ones that are valid whatever the empirical
circumstances may be·. (Admittedly ·experience comes into
the story in a certain way, because· these laws require a
power of judgment that has been sharpened by experience?
?partly in order to pick out the cases where the laws apply
and ?partly to let the laws get into the person?s will and to
stress that they are to be acted on. For a human being has
so many preferences working on him that, though he is quite
capable of having the idea of a practical pure reason, he
can?t so easily bring it to bear on the details of how he lives
his life.)
A metaphysic of morals is therefore indispensable, ·for
two reasons, one ?theoretical and one ?practical·. One reason
comes from ?our wish, as theoreticians, to explore the source
of the a priori practical principles that lie in our reason. The
other reason is that ?until we have the guide and supreme
without actually knowing what its proportions are; they
call themselves independent thinkers and write off those
who apply themselves exclusively to the rational part of
philosophy as mere ponderers. Wouldn?t things be improved
for the learned profession as a whole if those ?independent
thinkers? were warned that they shouldn?t carry on two
employments at once?employments that need to be handled
quite differently, perhaps requiring different special talents
for each?because all you get when one person does several
of them is bungling? But all I am asking is this: Doesn?t
the nature of the science ·of philosophy· require that we
carefully separate its empirical from its rational part? That
would involve putting
?a metaphysic of nature before real (empirical) natural
science, and
?a metaphysic of morals before practical anthropology.
Each of these two branches of metaphysics must be carefully
cleansed of everything empirical, so that we can know how
much pure reason can achieve in each branch, and from
what sources it creates its a priori teaching. ·The metaphysic
of morals must be cleansed in this way, no matter who the
metaphysicians of morals are going to be·?whether they will
include all the moralists (there are plenty of them!) or only a
few who feel a calling to this task.
Since my purpose here is directed to moral philosophy, I
narrow the question I am asking down to this:
?Isn?t it utterly necessary to construct a pure moral
philosophy that is completely freed from everything
that may be only empirical and thus belong to anthropology?
That there must be such a philosophy is self-evident from
the common idea of duty and moral laws. Everyone must
admit ?that if a law is to hold morally (i.e. as a basis for
someone?s being obliged to do something), it must imply
2
Groundwork
Immanuel Kant
Preface
human will as such, which for the most part are drawn from
·empirical· psychology, whereas the metaphysic of morals
aims ·at a non-empirical investigation, namely· investigating
the idea and principles of a possible pure will. Without
having the least right to do so, Wolff?s ?universal practical
philosophy? does have things to say about laws and duty; but
this doesn?t conflict with what I have been saying. For the
authors of this intellectual project remain true to their idea
of it ·in this part of its territory also: they· don?t distinguish
?motives that are presented completely a priori by
reason alone and are thus moral in the proper sense
of the word,
from
?motives that involve empirical concepts?ones that
the understanding turns into universal concepts by
comparing experiences.
In the absence of that distinction, they consider motives
without regard to how their sources differ; they treat them as
all being of the same kind, and merely count them; and
on that basis they formulate their concept of obligation,
·so-called·. This is as far from moral obligation as it could be;
but in a philosophy that doesn?t decide whether the origin of
all possible practical concepts is a priori or a posteriori, what
more could you expect?
Intending some day to publish a ?metaphysic of morals, I
now present this ?groundwork, ·this exercise of foundationlaying·, for it. There is, to be sure, no other basis for such
a metaphysic than a critical examination of pure practical
reason, just as there is no other basis for metaphysic than
the critical examination of pure speculative reason that I
have already published. [The unavoidable word ?speculative? (like
norm for making correct moral judgments, morality itself will
be subject to all kinds of corruption. ·Here is the reason for
that·. For something to be morally good, it isn?t enough that
it conforms to the ·moral· law; it must be done because it
conforms to the law. An action that isn?t performed with that
motive may happen to fit the moral law, but its conformity
to the law will be chancy and unstable, and more often
than not the action won?t be lawful at all. So we need to
find the moral law in its purity and genuineness, this being
what matters most in questions about conduct; and the only
place to find it is in a philosophy that is pure ·in the sense
I have introduced?see page 1·. So metaphysics must lead
the way; without it there can?t be any moral philosophy.
Philosophy ·that isn?t pure, i.e.· that mixes pure principles
with empirical ones, doesn?t deserve the name of ?philosophy?
(for what distinguishes ?philosophy from ?intelligent common
sense is precisely that ?the former treats as separate kinds
of knowledge what ?the latter jumbles up together). Much
less can it count as ?moral philosophy?, since by this mixing
·of pure with empirical· it deprives morality of its purity and
works against morality?s own purposes.
I am pointing to the need for an entirely new field of
investigation to be opened up. You might think that ·there
is nothing new about it because· it is already present in the
famous Wolff?s ?introduction? to his moral philosophy (i.e. in
what he called ?universal practical philosophy?); but it isn?t.
Precisely because his work aimed to be universal practical
philosophy, it didn?t deal with any particular kind of will,
and attended only to will in general and with such actions
and conditions as that brings in; and so it had no room for
the notion of ?a will that is determined by a priori principles
with no empirical motives, which means that it had no place
for anything that could be called ?a pure will. Thus Wolff?s
?introduction?. . . .concerns the actions and conditions of the
its cognate?speculation?) is half of the dichotomy between practical and
speculative. A speculative endeavour is one aimed at establishing truths
about what is the case, implying nothing about what ought to be the
3
Groundwork
Immanuel Kant
Preface
case; with no suggestion that it involves guesswork or anything like that.
Two of Kant?s most famous titles?Critique of Pure Reason and Critique of
In laying a foundation, however, all I am doing is seeking and establishing the supreme principle of morality?a
self-contained and entirely completable task that should be
kept separate from every other moral inquiry. Until now
there hasn?t been nearly enough attention to this important
question ·of the nature of and basis for the supreme principle
of morality·. My conclusions about it could be ?clarified
by bringing the ·supreme· principle to bear on the whole
system of morality, and ?confirmed by how well it would
serve all through. But I must forgo this advantage: basically
it would gratify me rather than helping anyone else, because
a principle?s being easy to use and its seeming to serve well
don?t prove for sure that it is right. They are more likely
merely to create a bias in its favour, which will get in the way
of its being ruthlessly probed and evaluated in its own right
and without regard to consequences.
Practical Reason ?are really short-hand for Critique of Pure Speculative
Reason and Critique of Pure Practical Reason. respectively. That involves
the speculative/practical contrast; there is no pure/practical contrast.
The second of those two works, incidentally, still lay in the future when
However, ·I have three reasons
for not plunging straight into a critical examination of pure
practical reason·. (1) It is nowhere near as important to have
a critical examination of pure ?practical reason as it is to have
one of ·pure· ?speculative reason. That is because even in the
commonest mind, human reason can easily be brought to a
high level of correctness and completeness in moral matters,
whereas reason in its theoretical but pure use is wholly
dialectical [= ?runs into unavoidable self-contradictions?]. (2) When
we are conducting a critical examination of pure practical
reason, I insist that the job is not finished until ?practical
reason and ?speculative reason are brought together and
unified under a common concept of reason, because ultimately they have to be merely different applications of
one and the same reason. But I couldn?t achieve this kind
of completeness ·here· without confusing the reader by
bringing in considerations of an altogether different kind
·from the matter in hand·. That is why I have used the
title Groundwork for the Metaphysic of Morals rather than
Critique of Pure Practical Reason. (3) A metaphysic of morals,
in spite of its forbidding title, can be done in a popular way
so that people of ordinary intelligence can easily take it in;
so I find it useful to separate this preliminary work on the
foundation, dealing with certain subtleties here so that I
can keep them out of the more comprehensible work that
will come later. [Here and throughout, ?popular? means ?pertaining to
Kant wrote the present work.]
[Kant has, and uses in the present work, a well-known distinction
between ??analytic? propositions (known to be true just by analysing
their constituent concepts) and ??synthetic? propositions (can?t be known
without bringing in something that the concepts don?t contain). In this
next sentence he uses those terms in a different way?one that goes
back to Descartes?in which they mark off not two ?kinds of proposition
but two ?ways of proceeding. In the analytic procedure, you start with
what?s familiar and on that basis work out what the relevant general
principles are; synthetic procedure goes the other way?you start with
general principles and derive familiar facts from them.]
In the present work I have adopted the method that is, I
think, the most suitable if one wants to proceed ?analytically
from common knowledge to settling what its supreme principle is, and then ?synthetically from examining this principle
and its sources back to common knowledge to which it
applies. So the work is divided up thus:
or suitable for ordinary not very educated people?. The notion of being
widely liked is not prominent in its meaning.]
4
Groundwork
Immanuel Kant
Chapter 1 Moving from common-sense knowledge to philosophical knowledge about morality.
Chapter 2 Moving from popular moral philosophy to the
Chapter 1
metaphysic of morals.
Chapter 3 Final step from the metaphysic of morals to the
critical examination of pure practical reason.
Chapter 1:
Moving from common-sense knowledge to philosophical knowledge about morality
?Moderation in emotions and passions, self-control, and
Nothing in the world?or out of it!?can possibly be conceived that could be called ?good? without qualification except
a GOOD WILL. Mental talents such as intelligence, wit, and
judgment, and temperaments such as courage, resoluteness,
and perseverance are doubtless in many ways good and
desirable; but they can become extremely bad and harmful
if the person?s character isn?t good?i.e. if the will that is to
make use of these ?gifts of nature isn?t good. Similarly with
?gifts of fortune. Power, riches, honour, even health, and
the over-all well-being and contentment with one?s condition that we call ?happiness?, create pride, often leading to
arrogance, if there isn?t a good will to correct their influence
on the mind. . . . Not to mention the fact that the sight of
someone who shows no sign of a pure and good will and yet
enjoys uninterrupted prosperity will never give pleasure to
an impartial rational observer. So it seems that without a
good will one can?t even be worthy of being happy.
calm deliberation not only are good in many ways but seem
even to constitute part of the person?s inner worth, and they
were indeed unconditionally valued by the ancients. Yet they
are very far from being good without qualification?·good
in themselves, good in any circumstances·?for without the
principles of a good will they can become extremely bad: ·for
example·, a villain?s ?coolness makes him far more dangerous
and more straightforwardly abominable to us than he would
otherwise have seemed.
What makes a good will good? It isn?t what it brings about,
its usefulness in achieving some intended end. Rather, good
will is good because of how it wills?i.e. it is good in itself.
Taken just in itself it is to be valued incomparably more
highly than anything that could be brought about by it in
the satisfaction of some preference?or, if you like, the sum
total of all preferences! Consider this case:
Even qualities that are conducive to this good will and
can make its work easier have no intrinsic unconditional
worth. We rightly hold them in high esteem, but only because
we assume them to be accompanied by a good will; so we
can?t take them to be absolutely ·or unconditionally· good.
Through bad luck or a miserly endowment from stepmotherly …
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