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PHIL-P140 Immanuel Kant: Groundwork of Metaphysics of Morals Chapter 1 Notes

by: Kathryn Brinser

PHIL-P140 Immanuel Kant: Groundwork of Metaphysics of Morals Chapter 1 Notes PHIL-P 140

Marketplace > Indiana University > PHIL-P 140 > PHIL P140 Immanuel Kant Groundwork of Metaphysics of Morals Chapter 1 Notes
Kathryn Brinser
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About this Document

Covers the vocabulary, preface, and first section of Kantian ethics (ie. duties, acting from duty, good will)
Introduction to Ethics
Daniel Linsenbardt
Class Notes
phil-p140, ethics, Immanuel Kant
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This 3 page Class Notes was uploaded by Kathryn Brinser on Tuesday September 13, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to PHIL-P 140 at Indiana University taught by Daniel Linsenbardt in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 9 views.

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Date Created: 09/13/16
P140 Immanuel Kant’s Groundwork of Metaphysics Preface/Section 1 Notes- Transition from Common to Philosophical Rational Moral Cognition 9-8-16 Vocabulary (Glossary handout)  A priori- something known without observation/testing; prior or innate knowledge o Do not use senses; “hard-wired” into the brain o We realize something is simply true without experiencing the world o Ex. If it’s sunny outside, then it’s sunny outside. o Ex. 4 divided by 4 equals 1.  Many experiments presuppose a priori truth about numbers  Empirical (a posteriori)- opposite of a priori; senses and observation required to provide truth to a claim o Ex. Looking at the color of my laptop, I can see it is silver and black.  Must use visual sense to observe object o Ex. Smoking causes cancer.  Must know about medicine, cancer, smoking  Must do experiments studying the topic  Metaphysics- describes a kind of belief that has substantive claims; 3 criteria: o Claims are a priori o Claims not “empty”- they advance our knowledge o Claims do not involve mathematics or geometry o Examples above of a priori not metaphysical:  First one is empty; does not serve any purpose to know it’s sunny  Second is substantive truth, but involves the sciences o Metaphysics of morals- involving ethics  Coming up with laws regarding how things should happen  Kant’s claims about morality not backed up by observation/experiment- a priori  Law- general principles o Ex. Laws of nature, laws of physics o Laws of freedom- what all free people ought to do; we can choose what we do o Generally talks about “law” meaning in regards to morality  Maxim- presupposed notion relied on when we act; intention with a purpose o Ex. I will go to school (I will intend to go to school) for the purpose of furthering my education. o All have form “I will/intend to do X for the purpose of P.”  Inclination- desire focused on/aimed at things in physical world (usually) that we can learn about; physiological or bodily impulse o Ex. Food, sex, possessions o There are desires for things we cannot learn about empirically (ie. doing our duty) which are not inclinations  Good will- our ability to make plans, intentions, maxims and give reasons for them; based on moral goodness and gives morally good reasons  Acts from X- action is from X if it is motivated by X (if it incentivizes us to make maxims, etc.) o Similar to Mill’s definition of motive o Ex. Saving a loved one from drowning can be motivated by love, impulse, duty, etc. Preface  Philosophy in ancient Greece divided into 3 categories: o Logic- study of thought, does not deal with objects o Physics- natural philosophy regarding how things happen in material world o Ethics- study of how things should happen involving people  “Pure” philosophy only talks about a priori ideas; independent of human perception o Includes logic- formal thinking o Metaphysics- type of pure philosophy; studies our pursuit of understanding the world  Empirical philosophy deals with observation of objects/our world  Want to use our ordinary (sans philosophy/science) judgments and thoughts about morality to find deeper understanding of right/wrong o Wants to define philosophical principles of morality o We assume moral obligations always apply to every rational being  Good understanding of morality must be founded on a priori reasoning- all basic truths of morality are a priori (we think philosophically about moral law, duty, etc.) o If moral standards were based on experience, would not have universal validity o Human nature should not be considered- circumstance that affects us  Ex. Hunger, love, physical needs, etc.  Must separate rational thinking from human nature to act only on logical ideas o Rational ideas- make sense to all people; universal  Kant believes these have much authority- morality based on reason makes sense  Rational moral standards superior to those applicable to certain groups of people  Objections to Kant: o Not practical to reason about morality- in practice we use intuition o Impossible to separate rationality from nature- what makes sense is related to culture and teachings o Kant’s ideas don’t make sense to people in other times/cultures  Thanks largely to Kant, most people tend to agree on basic ideas, ie. respecting human rights Section 1  Highest purposes for individuals- survival, happiness o Instinct seems better than reason to achieve both o Refined people who rely only on reason tend to be less happy  Reason has higher purposes than individual survival/happiness- results in good will  Anything good has its limits, except a good will- only thing that is good independent of everything else o Cannot take away or add anything to good wills to make them not good o Good in and of itself o Goodness of getting what we want depends on if we have good will o No matter what effects our actions have, if we have good intentions/will, our actions are good independently of anything else o Even if good will does not get what it wants (ie. does not give positive results), it is still good and has moral worth (esteem) o Some things only good depending on something else  Ex. Fame  Good or bad depending on how it is used  Disregarding intentions of a person having fame and adding evil intentions, fame becomes no longer good  Qualities of character (ie. intelligence, wit, courage)  Qualities of fortune (ie. wealth, social status, health) o Give highest moral praise to someone who is good “against all odds”- even though their good wills may not come to fruition  Duties- obligations/requirements of a good will o Actions genuinely good when done for sake of duty alone  People can act conforming with duty, motivated by something else; has no true moral worth  From immediate inclination- desire to complete goal/achieve what you’re doing; acting using natural compassion, getting satisfaction from doing right  From mediate inclination- setting general moral principles for oneself based on self-interest instead of duty to right thing  Ex. Shop owner has duty to sell items at fair prices; obeys duty for reasons of self-interest and competition, not solely duty to do right thing  Ex. All people have duty to help those in trouble; many do it not out of duty, but desire to give happiness to others  Person acting from duty has no desire/inclination to help people, but does anyway because he/she respects moral law and duty; has true moral worth  Person has feeling towards what is right/wrong  We don’t know about moral law empirically, but a priori o Actions judged by maxim that motivated them, not by effects they were supposed to have  When we have only sense of duty, we do actions because we recognize an a priori valid moral principle  If we act with intention to have certain effects, we have motivation other than duty o Duties should be fulfilled out of respect for moral law  Only rational beings can act as such; anything can act on instinct, random events could give positive results  Reverence is not emotional- recognition that law transcends all other concerns/interests  Moral worth depends not on action or consequences it brings; regardless of motivations or results, person acts from duty alone; has to do only with the way in which someone intends to do something  Start by understanding general sorts of maxims that good wills act in accordance with; study people with full moral worth o Seeing what people with good wills act from gives further insight into morality o What makes a good will good?  Acts even though there might be no motivation  Has moral worth not because of desires/effects, but it has the right kind of wills/plans  Makes plans (maxims) according to moral rules, regardless of whether or not they get to act/it works out  What kinds of requirements (laws) are there for rational, moral beings (grief-stricken people who act on duty alone)? o Since person we are talking about has no impulses (not even making other people or themselves happy), nothing remains except respect for duty/laws o Doing what’s required for that person and everyone else  Can’t be more concrete- good will would have some kind of incentive, like bringing about happiness  Kind of laws that a good will follows are ones that everyone can follow o Incentivizing a person with good will means having them do what they ought to  All maxims/plans must follow from this o Ultimate requirement- should will to do things that could be universal law for everyone to follow


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