Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-544b6db54f-fg2fv Total loading time: 0.244 Render date: 2021-10-24T01:11:02.958Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "metricsAbstractViews": false, "figures": true, "newCiteModal": false, "newCitedByModal": true, "newEcommerce": true, "newUsageEvents": true }

6 - The categorical imperative: free will willing itself

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 June 2012

Jennifer K. Uleman
Affiliation:
State University of New York, Purchase
Get access

Summary

This chapter aims to defend an alternative to a widespread formalist interpretation of Kant's moral theory. It does so via a close reading of Kant's canonical arguments for his moral law in the Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals and the Critique of Practical Reason. On the interpretation I defend here, Kant's famous categorical imperative urges the ‘free will to will itself.’ This is of course how Hegel put it. To put Kant's moral imperative this way is not, in my view, nor was it in itself for Hegel, a criticism of Kant, though Hegel of course did criticize Kant. Rather, it is to argue that Kant's moral law, expressed in the categorical imperative, has as its specific end the free rational activity of the will itself.

The first part of this chapter traces the roots of the formalist reading, and shows what Kant's formalism (really) demands, and what it doesn't. My aim is to loosen the grip of a formalist ban on asking what Kant cares about, or what his moral theory aims at, by showing that Kant didn't want to silence those inquiries. Having carved out permission to ask, directly, what Kant cares about, what he values, what his moral theory aims at, I turn to Kant's Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals and Critique of Practical Reason discussions of the moral law (the categorical imperative) and read them with these questions in mind.

Type
Chapter
Information
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2010

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

Send book to Kindle

To send this book to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats
×

Send book to Dropbox

To send content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

Available formats
×

Send book to Google Drive

To send content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

Available formats
×