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The Conditionality of Hypothetical Imperatives

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  07 October 2013

Jamsheed Siyar*
Affiliation:
College of Wooster Email: jsiyar@wooster.edu

Abstract

Kant famously distinguishes between the categorical imperative (CI) – the fundamental principle of morality – and hypothetical imperatives (HIs), which are instrumental norms. On the standard reading, Kant subscribes to the ‘disjunctive reading’ of HIs, which takes HIs to be consistency requirements that bind agents in exactly the same way whether or not agents are subject to CI and whether or not they conform their choices to CI. I argue that this reading cannot be squared with Kant's account of an agent's disposition, in particular his claim that cognition of CI is a necessary condition of willing a maxim. I further argue that Kant could not accept an account of HIs as consistency requirements. Finally, I outline Kant's conception of HIs as non-disjunctive requirements that arise when and only when agents will permissible ends. This account can help recapture Kant's conception of the unity of rational norms.

Type
Articles
Copyright
Copyright © Kantian Review 2013 

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