KantSummary - Kant's Grounding for the Metaphysics of...

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Kant's Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals A Very brief selective summary of sections I and II ± By Geoffrey Sayre-McCord UNC/Chapel Hill First Section Kant begins the first section by distinguishing between things that are "good without qualification" or "unconditionally good" and things that are good, but only qualifiedly or under certain conditions. Although there are many things that fall into the second category -- everything that is good only because of its consequences (since its having those consequences is a condition on its being good) and even all but one thing that is good in itself. The one thing that is good without qualification, according to Kant, is (what he calls) a good will. Indeed, he claims, a good will is the only thing we can even imagine is good without qualification -- everything else being at best good only w ith qualification. Moreover, he maintains, the good will itself serves as a condition of the value of everything else -- something can be good only if it is (in some appropriate sense) compatible with a good will. In fact , "a good will seems" he claims, "to constitute the indispensable condition of being even worthy of happiness." (393- 394) If a good will is unconditionally good then its value, Kant points out, cannot depend upon its having good effects. For if its value did depend on its having good effects it would be valuable only on the condition that it had those effects. Take away the effects and you would take away the source of its value. Since its value is (by assumption only, so far) unconditional, it must then be valuable even absent its having any good effects. Its value must be contained within it. Kant supposes that we all have at least some idea of what he is referring to in speaking of a good will. Loosely speaking, it is the determination to do what, in effect, reason requires as right period. (394-394) Kant recognizes that the idea that the role of reason is to make possible a good will rather than to help us satisfy our inclinations or make ourselves happy may seem highminded nonesense. So first he argues that if nature's purpose in giving us reason was to help us satisfy our inclinations or desires or preferences or to make us happy, it would have made a big mistake.
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This note was uploaded on 02/13/2012 for the course PHIL 160 taught by Professor Knobe during the Fall '07 term at UNC.

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KantSummary - Kant's Grounding for the Metaphysics of...

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