Kant Lect 2 - Topic #2: Kants Test for Right Actions: the...

Info iconThis preview shows pages 1–2. Sign up to view the full content.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Topic #2: Kant’s Test for Right Actions: the Categorical Imperative 1. For Kant a self-determining agent is ‘autonomous’ (lives according to their own law) Kant on autonomy i) Kant claims that all rational beings must be self-determining. ii) Self-determination involves being caused to act by one’s own law. While everything else in nature is determined by the laws of nature, a rational being is determined by its own laws. Being determined by its own laws – the moral law -- is what Kant calls a ‘will’. iii) There is a single moral law on which all rational agents necessarily converge Expl: A person is not free in virtue of successfully pursuing the satisfaction of their desires or inclinations, since according to Kant, the content of our desires is determined by natural causes or natural laws. Rather, a person can only be free if they are determined by laws they give to themselves. This does not mean that each person can choose their own laws or policies as they see fit. Kant claims there is only one set of moral laws that it is rational to will because there is only one system of laws that is consistent. He’ll argue for this claim below. By way of analogy, there may be only one set of mathematical axioms and theorems that is consistent. For Kant, ‘autonomy’ and freedom don’t mean ‘doing your own thing’ or ‘being eccentric’. It means ‘following the law that all rational beings will choose to live by’. You might reasonably ask if Kant really means that a person can extract themselves from the causal order of nature by willing the moral law. How can that be? For it seems that if all things in nature are causally determined (caused by laws), then a given person’s decision to will the moral law is also causally determined. Why claim that they are free if they are still subject to the laws of nature? But if they are not subject to the laws of nature in virtue of willing then the ‘will’ is like a ‘miracle’: they are phenomena that can are allegedly not subject to the laws of nature. Good question, but take PHIL 100 to find out the answer. 2. Hypothetical and Categorical Imperatives The moral law is a command or ‘imperative’. Def’n Imperative: An imperative to act expresses normative reasons. If there is a normative reason to do an act then the explanation ‘why’ the person ought to do that action is independent from whether they desire to do that act or not. Kant distinguishes three ways imperatives can command or three kinds of imperatives. 1) Imperatives of skill : the requirement to choose the right techniques for a task 2) Hypothetical imperatives : the requirement to choose the means to an end. They are imperatives in virtue of representing ‘the practical necessity of a possible action as a means to achieving something else that one wills (or that it is at least possible for one to will). 3)
Background image of page 1

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
Image of page 2
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

This note was uploaded on 07/15/2010 for the course PHIL 120 taught by Professor Evantiffany during the Spring '08 term at Simon Fraser.

Page1 / 6

Kant Lect 2 - Topic #2: Kants Test for Right Actions: the...

This preview shows document pages 1 - 2. Sign up to view the full document.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Ask a homework question - tutors are online