lecture%2012 - Lecture12:Kant:Prefaceand...

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MARCH 2, 2011 Lecture 12: Kant: Preface and  first part of Section 1
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Kant’s Project The task of Kant’s “Grounding of the Metaphysics of Morals” is “to seek out  and establish the supreme principle of morality”—the GROUND of all right  and wrong judgments. ANALOGY: Think about the science of LOGIC, the science of rational rules  governing all proper reasoning. We might argue that the GROUND of all true and false principles is the principle: If A is true,  then not A is false. (If it is true that I am alive, then it is false that I am dead.  Logically  speaking, a contradiction cannot exist or both A and NOT-A cannot be true.) This does not mean that all reasoning in LOGIC and all truth and falsity is just a variation on  this principle: but without this principle, nothing would be true or false. Kant is going to argue for a MORAL principle like that: It is a RATIONAL but PRACTICAL PRINCIPLE: in other words, it is the most FOUNDATIONAL  idea for the process of reasoning about how to live and act. ESSSENTIALLY, the idea is EQUALITY OF ALL RATIONAL BEINGS. Stated as a RATIONAL-PRACTICAL PRINCIPLE, Kant’s fundamental idea is “Act in a way that  could be justified to all other rational beings” or “Act in a way that everyone else could accept  and do as well.” This principle is just a way of explaining what it means to treat people EQUALLY.
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Kant’s Preface Kant argues that morality cannot be empirical: it cannot come from  observation or from studying human societies.  It must come from REASON itself, if it is to exist at all: that is, if there is  to be a universal right (namely, equality) and wrong (namely,  inequality). You cannot look at the world or at history or at particular actions and  SEE that equality is right and inequality is wrong. Instead, the equality of all persons is a product of REASON and the  achievement of an OBJECTIVE PERSPECTIVE on how to live and act. The very idea of having a reason for one’s actions (being able to  justify them) implies justifying them TO OTHERS and having a  reason OTHERS can accept. Reasoning, by definition, must be applicable to all rational beings.
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Suppose you believed that morality came from experience, observation, or society. Now imagine that you lived at a time in the past in which everyone on the entire planet agreed that slavery was morally acceptable and, furthermore, that all recorded human history up until this very moment agreed with this. A.
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This note was uploaded on 04/03/2011 for the course PHIL 105 taught by Professor Ruckgarber during the Spring '10 term at University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign.

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lecture%2012 - Lecture12:Kant:Prefaceand...

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