and so on These appear to be metaphysical questions Any principle used to

And so on these appear to be metaphysical questions

This preview shows page 228 - 231 out of 281 pages.

on. These appear to be metaphysical questions. Any principle used to provide such categorizations appears to be a principle of metaphysics, in a sense, but Kant did not see them as
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external moral truths that exist independently of rational agents. Moral requirements, instead, arerational principles that tell us what we have overriding reason to do. Metaphysical principles of this sort are always sought out and established by a priori methods. Perhaps something like this was behind Kant’s thinking. However, the considerations he offers for an apriori method do not all obviously draw on this sort of rationale. The following are three considerations favoring a priori methods that he emphasizes repeatedly. The first is that, as Kant and others have conceived of it, ethics initially requires an analysis of our moral concepts. We must understand the concepts of a “good will”, “obligation”, “duty” and so on, as well as their logical relationships to one another, before we can determine whether our use of these concepts is justified. Given that the analysis of concepts is an a priori matter, to the degree that ethics consists of such an analysis, ethics is a priori as a well. Of course, even were we to agree with Kant that ethics should begin with analysis, and that analysis is or should be an entirely a priori undertaking, this would not explain why all of the fundamental questions of moral philosophy must be pursued a priori. Indeed, one of the most important projects of moral philosophy, for Kant, is to show that we, as rational agents, are bound by moral requirements and that fully rational agents would necessarily comply with them. Kant admits that his analytical arguments for the CI are inadequate on their own because the most they can show is that the CI is the supreme principle of morality if there is such a principle.Kant must therefore address the possibility that morality itself is an illusion by showing that the
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CI really is an unconditional requirement of reason that applies to us. Even though Kant thought that this project of “establishing” the CI must also be carried out a priori, he did not think we could pursue this project simply by analyzing our moral concepts or examining the actual behavior of others. What is needed, instead, is a “synthetic”, but still a priori, kind of argument that starts from ideas of freedom and rational agency and critically examines the nature and limits of these capacities. This is the second reason Kant held that fundamental issues in ethics must be addressed with an apriori method: The ultimate subject matter of ethics is the nature and content of the principles that necessarily determine a rational will. Fundamental issues in moral philosophy must also be settled a priori because of the nature of moral requirements themselves, or so Kant thought. This is a third reason he gives for an a priorimethod, and it appears to have been of great importance to Kant: Moral requirements present themselves as being unconditionally necessary. But an
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  • Spring '11
  • LBernasconi

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