Kant’s Grounding of the Metaphysics of Morals,
Preface and Section 1:
1) What does Kant mean when he says that moral duties, such as the duty not to lie, are
“absolutely necessary”? (271) What does he mean when he says that they are absolutely “universal”?
They are absolutely necessary because they can’t not be true
2) What do you think Kant’s point might be of distinguishing between what is valid for all human beings and what is valid for all rational beings? (271)
To point out that not all human beings are rational and therefore he is only addressing the rational ones who his arguments will apply to.
3) What do you think Kant might mean by “supreme principle of morality”? (273)
He means that surely there must be some principle that decisions are based on, specifically that we “surely take into consideration the happiness and misery of others in our decisions” and act in regard to the maxim of the action as at the same time as the universal law. Don't forget about the age old question of What is the different way to be discharged from a contract?
3) What does Kant mean when he says that only a good will is good without qualification? Explain how the goodness of a good will differs from other goods, such as talents of mind, qualities of temperament, and gifts of fortune, such as health and happiness. (Ak393395)
Good will is valuable above al and not diminished by lack of talents, qualities or mind, or gifts of fortune. Qualities of mind, talents, and gifts, are only good if used with good will but are not good by themselves.
Don't forget about the age old question of (4 x 10 x 5)+(3 x 10 x 5) = 200+150 the answer is?
4) How does what Kant says about “qualities of temperament” differ from Aristotle’s view? How does what Kant says about “happiness” differ from Aristotle’s view? (273)
Aristotle views “qualities of the mind” as part of the firm and unchanging character from which virtuous actions stem, where as Kant believes they must be accompanied by a goodwill to result in virtuous actions and can be bad without them. Kant rejects happiness as the supreme good by saying goodwill is the highest good.
5) What do you think Kant means when he speaks of a “good will”? The will that chooses the right action for the right reason.
6) Kant says that the goodness of the good will is independent of consequences, so that even when someone with a good will does something that has bad consequences, the action is not devalued by the bad consequences. Give an example that illustrates Kant’s point. Do you agree with Kant on this point? Is the moral worth of a good action independent of its consequences?
Going into a fire to save an infant, but ending up getting tapped yourself, giving the firemen/firewomen an extra person to save. Yes, personally I think it is not always
possible to perceive outcomes and as long as intentions are pure, the consequences don’t have an impact of the morality of the action.
7) Explain the distinction between empirical and a priori. Why does Kant think that moral laws are a priori? (Preface) We also discuss several other topics like What is jo ha kyu?
Empirical knowledge is a position bound by experience
A prori is not bound by experience; includes moral laws because they are necessary and can’t not be true.
9) What does Kant mean when he speaks of acting “in conformity to duty”? (275)
Acting simply because you have to and from no moral position like the merchanct not overcharging a new cutomer because it would be bad for his business.
10) What, according to Kant, is the difference between the prudent merchant, or “shopkeeper” and the person who acts “from duty”?
The prudent merchant doesn’t overcharge because he believes it would be bad for his business whereas the merchant acting from duty believes he has an obligation to be fair to all customers.
11) What, according to Kant, is the difference between someone who acts from the immediate inclination of benevolence and someone who acts from duty? Why does he say that the action of the former “deserves praise and encouragement” but lacks “moral worth”? (Note that the second question is difficult.) (2756)
The person acting from inclination towards a moral action wants to do it, the person acting from duty doesn’t, the former should be praised for his inclination to do it, but had no moral worth because he is simply acting naturally from the desire to help instead of feeling a moral obligation or duty to.
Questions 12 17 deal with material presented on pp. 2756:
12) Does Kant think that all actions done from inclination are done for the sake of pleasing oneself? Don't forget about the age old question of What is stoichiometry?
If you want to learn more check out What is the meaning of noael?
No, he thinks they are done for the sake of themselves but the agent feels pleasure from it.
13) Is Kant saying that an action has moral worth only if one has the inclination to act contrary to duty?
No, but to have moral worth one must recognize that they do have a duty to perform moral actions.
14) We tend to praise someone who enjoys helping the needy more than someone who helps the needy with gritted teeth, without any enjoyment whatsoever, but only because she thinks it is her duty. Is Kant saying that the first person is morally no better than the second?
Yes, and even suggests the second personal has more moral worth since she has to act contrary to her original inclination not to help.
15) Many people have made the following objection to Kant: consider two people. One helps because she wants to. The other helps from duty and also wants to. There is nothing more commendable about the second person, but Kant holds that there is. What do you think Kant’s reply to this objection would be? Don't forget about the age old question of How many moles of atoms are in 6.00 g of 13 c?
The first person is doing the action simply because they like it whereas the second person recognizes it’s her duty to do it and then receives pleasure from the action.
16) What in the end, according to Kant, distinguishes the will of someone who acts in accordance with duty from that of someone who acts from duty? (To answer this question you should consult what Kant calls “the second proposition.” (276)
The will of someone who acts from duty operates under the principle of the will, without regard of the ends their actions might bring since the moral worth is in the maxim.
17) Kant says that the difference between the naturally sympathetic person and the dutiful person lie in their maxims. What does Kant mean by a “maxim” of an action? Give an example of a maxim.
The maxim is a statement outline, “in circumstance C, I will do action A for the sake of purpose P” ex: “In a circumstance where I need money I will make a false promise in order to get the cash I want”
18) What does Kant mean when he speaks of acting “from respect for law?” (277)
Acting from a law that does not serve or even excludes an inclination by adjusting a maxim to the law even if it goes against inclination and always in one that can be a universal law.
Kant’s Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals
1) Kant writes, “everything in nature works according to laws. Only a rational being has the power to act according to his conception of laws…” Explain.
Nature follows strict, set laws while a rational being can act in how they interprets the law and consciously follows it.
2) What is an imperative? What, in particular, is a hypothetical imperative? Give an example of a rule of skill? Give an example of a counsel of prudence.
Rules that stae what one ought to do. HI’s are relative to the situation; skill – if your end is to get a degree you out to go to school; prudence – if you want to get respect you ought to keep promises (or any act for one’s selfinterest)
3) Kant distinguishes between particular hypothetical imperative and the principle of the hypothetical imperative. What is the principle of the hypothetical imperative?
One ought to take the means for one’s end
4) How does Kant explain how hypothetical imperatives are possible?
He explains that HI’s say only that an action is good fro some possible purpose and whether the end is rational and good is not in question, so they are possible.
5) If you violate the principle of the hypothetical imperative, how would your action be best described?
Morally impermissible and irrational
6) What is a categorical imperative? How does a categorical imperative differ from a hypothetical imperative?
CI represents an action of absolute necessity; it doesn’t take into account ends
7) Explain the distinction between particular categorical imperatives, such as “do not lie,” and the principle of the categorical imperative.
Particular categorical imperatives command a specific action, the principle just unconditionally demands performance of actions for their own sake.
8) Do you agree with Kant that moral rules are categorical imperative, or do you think that they are hypothetical imperatives?
I believe moral rules are categorical imperatives since you absolutely should do them and do them for their own sake.
9) What is the principle of the categorical imperative in its universal law formulation? the categorical imperative is the action in the universal law formula 10) Explain why the maxim of the false promiser fails the universalization test.
Because if everyone made false promises the convention of promising would not exists therefore it is impossible and irrational.
11) Explain why the maxim of the person who wills not to help others in need fails the universalization test.
Because you can’t will a world in which that happens and when no one would help those in need, it would be impossible to get help for one’s self.
12) Kant makes a distinction between “strict or narrow” duty and “broad” duty. What is this distinction? (Ak 424)
Strict and narrow duties specify specific actions to make an end whereas broad duties just adopt an end.
13) Explain Kant’s claim on p. 289 that the objects of inclination have only “relative worth.” Why do you think he holds that a rational being has absolute worth?
The object is only valuable to the person who wants/needs it and if it does its job but a rational being’s worth is not determined by how well she/he can be used.
15) What does Kant mean by “humanity”? Why according to him must the humanity in a person be respected, and treated, as an end in itself?
The power/capacity to determine what one does and what ends one pursues on the bases of reason and freedom. Because he believes humans are ration agents who make
plans and deliberate cchoices and should never be sacrificed for anything less valuable (and nothing is more valuable) and have autonomy.
16) Give an example in which you treat the humanity in someone as an end in itself, and one in which you treat someone only as a means?
End in itself – hiring someone for a skill
Mererly a means – using someone to get ahead at work
17) Is Kant saying that it is never okay to treat someone as a means (notice that there is a distinction between treating someone merely as a means and treating them as a means)? It’s okay to use people as a means, so long as they are aware of it, but it’s never okay to use someone merely as a means.
18) Explain why the maxim of the false promiser violates the categorical imperative in its expression in the formula of humanity. How does lying to someone involve treating them merely as a means? Suppose that I lie to you, but it turns out that you know this and don’t mind. Am I still treating you merely as a means when I lie to you? Explain your answer.
The act of lying violates the necessary morality in the categorical imperative. You are using a person merely as a means by deceiving them to get what you want. You are still treating me as merely a means because you believe I don’t know you’re deceiving me and never gave me an opportunity to agree to your maxim.
19) Is Kant saying that it is never morally permitted to act in a way that others don’t want? What about sporting competitions?
It’s okay to act in a way other’s don’t want so long as hey are not deceived or harmed in a way they are not consenting to. In competition both parties are consenting to be harmed/deceived/beaten by the other in order to win themselves.
20) Explain why the maxim of the suicide violates the categorical imperative in its expression in the formula of humanity. Do you agree with Kant that we have duties to ourselves?
Because you are violating your own humanity/’personhood. Yes, I believe we have duties to take care of ourselves for selfinterest and for the sake of those we care for.
Additional Study Questions on Kant:
1) In class we talked about two problems with the Universal Law Formulation of the Principle of the Categorical Imperative, or “the universal law test”. First, it seems to
have the result that maxims that are in fact morally permissible come out according to the test morally impermissible (false negatives), and second, it seems to have the result that maxims that are in fact morally impermissible come out according to the test morally permissible (false positives). Give examples of each. Explain.
False positive – killing an infant for sleep; it’s possible to imagine a world where it works, but the act of murder is morally impermissible
False negative – always letting others go first through doors; if it happened universally no one would be able to enter or exit doors but the action is morally okay
2) Does the second formulation of the principle of the categorical imperative have the same apparent results? Explain.
No. with the second formula, there can be shades of grey as to whether or not a person is being treated merely as an end and is up for interpretation, but there are no false positives or negatives.
3) What is the difference between treating someone as a means, and treating someone merely as a means?
Merely – not giving them an opportunity to agree to maxim
Means in end – they agree to maxim
4) Explain the fundamental moral idea that is expressed by the formula of universal law? The idea is that if an action is immoral, it would not work in society if everyone performed it so immoral actions are irrational.
Study Questions on Hobbes
1) What according to Hobbes are desires and aversions?
Desire – what we love
Aversions – what we hate
2) How does Hobbes explain the difference between desire and love, and between aversion and hate?
Desire – absence of object
Love – presense of object
Aversion – absence of object
Hate – presense of object
3) Do we, according to Hobbes, want something because we think that it is good or valuable, or do we think something good or valuable because we want it? Explain your answer.
For Hobbe’s , something is good because someone loves/desires it, good and evil are relative to individuals.
4) Explain Hobbes’ analogy between color and value.
Just as color is not a genuine feature of an object and is simply what is perceived, so is the value of an object.
5) What is a state of nature? What is a state of war? What according to Hobbes are the central features that characterize what he calls “the state of nature”? Are there any moral laws in the state of nature?
All men are equal in body and mind with few resources. The state of war is men living without a common power to keep them in line. The state of nature is war, equality of mind and body, limited resources, and no goverments. There are no moral laws.
6) Explain why Hobbes thought that the state of nature leads to a state of war?
Since everyone needs the limited resources, have no government, and are equal in mind and body, people will do whatever it takes to survive.
7) In class we looked the problem in decision theory called “the prisoner’s dilemma” to help us understand what Hobbes thought our predicament is in the state of nature. Explain the prisoner’s dilemma. Why is it a dilemma?
Two parteners in crime are charged for a crime, but the prosecutor wants to charge at least one person with a larger crime and offers each one a deal. The dilemma is that it is in the best interest of each to congess, but it is better for both of them not to confess and go with their third choice.
8) Use the prisoner’s dilemma model to explain why Hobbes thinks that rational beings in the state of nature ought to cooperate, and in particular to agree to obey certain rules that constrain the unbridled pursuit of selfinterest.
So as to not be a constant state of war and so all parties have rights and happier, longer lives
9) What according to Hobbes are the conditions under which we are obligated to follow the rule, “do not that to another, which thou wouldest not have done to thyself”?
Under the theory of a social contract where all parties have respect/cause no harm to one another so long as it’s reciprocated
10) How do you think Hobbes would have defended the practice of punishing law breakers?
Since they opted to break the social contract they no longer are under its protection and therefore face the consequences.
11) Under what conditions would a Hobbesian political theory defend the right to exercise civil disobedience?
When the social contract begins to harm, bot help and the ruling party that enforces it becomes a tyrant.
Additional Study Questions on Hobbes:
1) Why according to Hobbes is it rational for each of us to agree to obey moral rules? Because the social contract is safety with no war
2) Why, according to Hobbes, is it rational for each of us actually to obey moral rules? Punishment if broken, better to adhere to the contract, no war
3) Explain why Hobbes’ account of moral obligation encounters problems explaining our moral obligations to small children and animals.
Because we can’t enter contracts with children and animals yet we seem to have duties to them
4) Explain why Hobbes would have hard time explaining the idea that some acts, like murder, are intrinsically wrong.
Because he believes the reason every act might be wrong is because of the social contract, not because things are inherently immoral
5) What is it that the Fool has said “in his heart”, and sometimes “with his tongue?” Explain.
There is not justice/injustice because if it’s in my best interest to break the contract, I should.
6) Explain Hobbes’ answers to the Fool.
It’s in one’s self interest that they adhere, doesn’t mean the action of breaking the social contract is wise just because it had no immediate consequences, it hurts the fool in the long run.