The Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysics of Morals

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Overview

What is morally permissible, and what is morally obligatory? These questions form the core of a vast amount of philosophical reasoning. In his Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysics of Morals, Immanuel Kant developed a basis for the answers.

In this landmark work, the German philosopher asks what sort of maxim might function as a guide to appropriate action under a given set of circumstances. By universalizing such a maxim, would morally permissible behavior not become clear? Suppose that everyone were to behave in accordance with this maxim. If everyone followed the maxim in the same way without harm to civilized culture, then the behavior would be morally permissible. But what if no one followed the maxim? Would civilization thereby be at risk? In such a case, the behavior would be morally obligatory.

Kant's test, known as the Categorical Imperative, is a logical proof of the Golden Rule and the centerpiece of this work. It constitutes his best-known contribution to ethical discussion, and a familiarity with his reasoning in this book is essential to students of philosophy, religion, and history.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780672601774
  • Publisher: Macmillan Publishing Company, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 1/28/1949

Table of Contents

Preface 1
Section 1 Transition from the Common Rational Knowledge of Morality to the Philosophical 9
Section 2 Transition from Popular Moral Philosophy to the Metaphysic of Morals 23
The Autonomy of the Will as the Supreme Principle of Morality 58
Heteronomy of the Will as the Source of all spurious Principles of Morality 58
Classification of all Principles of Morality which can be founded on the Conception of Heteronomy 59
Section 3 Transition from the Metaphysic of Morals to the Critique of Pure Practical Reason 65
The Concept of Freedom is the Key that explains the Autonomy of the Will 65
Freedom must be presupposed as a Property of the Will of all Rational Beings 66
Of the Interest attaching to the Ideas of Morality 68
How is a Categorical Imperative Possible? 73
Of the Extreme Limits of all Practical Philosophy 75
Concluding Remark 83
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