Introduction to Kant’s Ethics


     Copyright © 2013 Bruce W. Hauptli


I. Kant’s Life:


Almost every account of Kant’s life characterizes it as “uneventful.”  Here is the first paragraph from Frederick Copleston’s account:


if we prescind from the history of his intellectual development and from the results of this development, we do not need to spend much time in recounting the facts of Kant’s life.  For it was singularly uneventful and devoid of dramatic incident.  True, any philosopher’s life is devoted primarily to reflection, not to external activity on the stage of public life.  He is not a commander in the field or an Arctic explorer.  And unless he is forced to drink poison like Socrates or burned at the stake like Giordano Bruno, his life naturally tends to be undramatic.  But Kant was not even a traveled man of the world like Leibniz.  For he spent all his life in East Prussia.  Nor did he occupy the position of a philosophical dictator in the university of a capital city, as Hegel later did at Berlin.  He was simply an excellent professor in a not very distinguished university of a provincial town.  Nor was his character such as to provide a happy hunting-ground for psychological analysts, as with Kierkegaard and Nietzsche.  In his later years he was noted for his methodical regularity of life and for his punctuality, but it would hardly occur to anyone to think of him as an abnormal personality.  But perhaps one can say that the contrast between his quiet and comparatively uneventful life and the greatness of his influence has itself a dramatic quality.[1] 


I think this is too dismissive, but it is fairly typical—philosophers regularly turn almost directly to Kant’s thought rather than talking about his life. 


     Kant lived from 1724-1804 and was one of the major figures of the Enlightenment.  He was born in Koenigsberg in East Prussia (his father made saddles and his mother was unschooled).  His parents were German Pietists (belonging to a branch of the Lutheran Church which emphasized religion as an inner experience to be expressed outwardly in a simple life led in obedience to moral commands or laws).  The local pastor made it possible for Immanuel to attend the local Pietist school at the age of eight. 


     When he was sixteen, Kant enrolled at the University of Koenigsberg intending to study theology, but a philosophy professor, Martin Knutzen, strongly influenced him to study Christian Wolff, Isaac Newton, and current philosophy and science.  Kant intended to pursue an academic career, but the death of his father required that he give up the life of a student.  He became a tutor, and for nine years taught the children of several different influential families in Koenigsberg.  According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, during this time


he was introduced to the influential society of the city, acquired social grace, and made his farthest travels from his native city—some 60 miles (96 kilometers) away to the town of Arnsdorf.  In 1755, aided by the kindness of a friend, he was able to complete his degree at the university and take up the position of Privatdozent, or lecturer.[2] 


     Kant was a popular and successful lecturer, and he lectured on a wide variety of topics (among them physics, mathematics, philosophy, fireworks, fortifications, and physical geography).  When Knutzen died, Kant tried to obtain an appointment to his chair, but Knutzen’s position was that of an “extraordinary professor,” and the government chose to leave the position vacant (to save money).  Kant’s financial situation was strained for the fifteen years he served as a lecturer (though during the last four years of this position he also was an assistant librarian, and this position provided his some additional income). 


     In 1770 he became [an “Ordinary”] Professor of Logic and Metaphysics at the University of Koenigsberg (he had earlier been offered a chair in poetry both at Koenigsberg and at Jena].  The fifteen years prior to this appointment are often referred to as his “pre-critical” period, while his early period as a Professor are referred to as his “critical” one.  This designation refers not to the fact that for fifteen years he did not engage in any critical thought, but, rather, to the fact that his main works published as a professor were called his First, Second, and Third Critiques.  While one can not really date the change in his thinking, throughout a substantial portion of the time he was a lecturer he had largely thought within the Leibnizian-Wolffian philosophical world-view.  For a substantial period of time (certainly while he was Professor, but most likely beginning before this point), Kant began to develop his own distinctive philosophical system. 


     In 1781 his first critique, The Critique of Pure Reason was published, and it was quickly followed by his other best known works: Prolegomena to any Future Metaphysics [1783], Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysics of Morals [1785], Metaphysical First Principles of Natural Science [1786], The Critique of Practical Reason [1788], The Critique of Judgment [1790], Religion Within the Bounds of Reason Alone [1793], and Metaphysics of Morals [1797].  This is a prodigious intellectual output, and Copleston offers the following description of his life at this time:


it is understandable, therefore, that with this heavy programme Kant had to husband his time.  And his order of the day, to which he faithfully adhered during his years as a professor, has become famous.  Rising shortly before five in the morning, he spent the hour from five to six drinking tea, smoking a pipe, and thinking over his day’s work.  From six to seven he prepared his lecture, which began at seven or eight, according to the time of the year, and lasted until nine or ten.  He then devoted himself to writing until the midday meal, at which time he always had company and which was prolonged for several hours, as Kant enjoyed conversation.  Afterwards he took a daily walk of an hour or so, and the evening was given to reading and reflection.  He retired to bed at ten o’clock.[3] 


     While Kant is treated as a paradigmatic figure in the Enlightenment, and while we will see that he emphasized the importance of a life lived according to the dictates of reason (and while he, surely, lived such a life), it is important to note that his life was not spent in one of the most free of societies.  During the reign of Frederick the Great, there was little censorship, but this was not the case when Frederick William II came to rule.  As Mary Gregor notes,


in 1788 Barron von Zedlitz—to whom Kant had dedicated the Critique of Pure Reason—was  dismissed, and the notorious Woellner was appointed Minister of Justice and head of the state departments of church and schools.  Together, the King, his favorite minister, and a coterie of likeminded officials they gathered around them launched a campaign to “stamp out the Enlightenment.”  Six days after his appointment, Woellner’s Edict on Religion paid lip service to freedom of conscience while effectively silencing any criticism of orthodox ecclesiastical tenets....[4] 


Gregor continues by noting that


Kant was not looking for trouble when he wrote Religion Within the Limits of Mere Reason Alone, though he might reasonably have expected it.[5] 


This is a bit ironic given that Kant’s view of the power of reason holds that it is incapable of comprehending the deity.  Indeed


...after the second Critique had been published, some of Kant’s friends feared that his denial of reason’s ability to achieve knowledge of the supersensible [e.g., the existence, or nature of a deity] might be claimed by the fanatics in Berlin as support for their insistence on blind faith in matters of religion.[6] 


As Gregor notes, Kant did encounter difficulties with his views on religion, however:


in 1791 Kant sent the manuscript of Religion [Within the Limits of Mere Reason Alone] to Biester, editor of Berliner Monatsschrift,  who planned to publish its four sections in four consecutive issues of his journal.  The first section was submitted to the censor, received the imprimatur, and was published in the April 1792 issue.  As for the fate of the remaining three sections, we can best quote Kant’s account of the affair…. 

  “The first part, “On the Radical Evil in Human Nature,” went all right: the censor of philosophy, Herr Privy Counselor Hillmer,  took it as falling under his department’s jurisdiction.  The second part was not so fortunate, since Herr Hillmer thought it ventured into the area of biblical theology (for some unknown reason he thought the first part did not), and he therefore thought it advisable to confer with the biblical censor, Oberkonsistorarah Hermes,  who then of course took it as falling under his own jurisdiction (when did a mere priest ever decline any power?), and so he expropriated it and refused to approve it.” 

  Biester twice appealed the decision, once to the Censorship Commission and once directly to the King.[7] 


On October 12, 1794 Kant wrote Frederick William II responding to the King’s demand that he “give a conscientious account of himself for having misused his philosophy to distort and disparage many of the cardinal and basic teachings of the Holy Scriptures” in his Religion Within the Limits of Mere Reason. In that letter Kant promised that:


regarding the second point—not to be guilty in the future of (as I am charged) distorting and disparaging Christianity—I believe the surest way, which will obviate the least suspicion, is for me to declare solemnly, as Your Majesty’s most loyal subject, that I will hereafter refrain altogether from discoursing publicly, in lectures or writings, on religion, whether natural or revealed.[8] 


Kant wrote his Conflict of the Faculties (especially the part entitled “The Conflict of the Philosophy Faculty with the Theology Faculty”) to defend both academic freedom and to argue that the theological faculties and the clergy had usurped authority that properly belongs to others, and upon Frederick William II’s death in 1797 he felt released from his promise, and he published this work. 


     I have spent so much space on this incident because it draws our attention to the social background of Kant’s time, emphasizes the importance and controversial character of his views regarding religion, and, finally, because it helps undercut the general view of Kant’s life reflected in the initial citation above. 


     As a final note, according to Jostein Gaarder:


one of his most quoted sayings is carved on his gravestone in Konigsberg: “Two things fill my mind with ever-increasing wonder and awe, the more often and more intensely the reflection dwells on them: the starry heavens above me and the moral law within me.”[9] 


II. Introduction to Kant’s Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals [1785]


Kant was a rationalist and an objectivist (many would say “absolutist” here).  As an objectivist, he is interested in coming up with the “supreme principle” of morality.  As a beginning introductory point regarding Kant’s ethics, note that we often ask individuals who are contemplating (or doing) acts we disapprove of: “What if everyone did that?”  At times, we are pointing out the “anti-utilitarian” consequences of the act as an example to others.  At other times, however, we are not making a utilitarian observation about the consequences of such action.  Instead, we are claiming that the act is wrong because neither the agent nor ourselves would want others to act this way; and if we don’t want the agent to act in this manner, we have good reason not to allow ourselves to so act.  This brings out three central aspects of Kant’s moral theory: “universalizability,” reason (or rationality), and the [absolute] value of persons. 


     Kant maintains we are rational and passionate animals.  That is he believes our wills are capable of being determined by both our reason and by our passions.  To understand his moral theory, we need to ask, first, “Why do we have reason? 


Survival or happiness?  He contends that instinct would serve these ends better! 


To know the world?  This would explain speculative reason!  Speculative reason deals with knowledge detached from any consideration of action, while practical reason deals with reason as it relates to action. 


To direct the will?  This would explain practical reason.  Practical reason deals with the relationship between reason and will and it is here that the problems of morality arise according to him. 


     For David Hume [1711-1776] there was no relationship between reason and will without an input from the passions.  He held that reason “is, and ever ought to be, the servant of the passions.”[10]  Kant agrees that it is often true that the input of the passions is necessary to determine the will, but he maintains that in the case of morality we are talking about actions which are not undertaken to achieve some end but, rather, because of our rational assessment of our duty.  For Kant, it is duty and not consequences which are of fundamental importance in morality. 


     To understand Kant’s moral theory, clearly, we have to ask: “What is a will?  He claims that it is a human faculty which engenders action (the “seat” of action and activity).  For Kant, in fact, it is our will and our reason which make us what we are.  Kant wants to find out what makes a will good—he maintains that such a will (a good one) is the only thing which is intrinsically valuable:


285 Nothing can possibly be conceived in the world, or even out of it, which can be called good, without qualification, except a good will.[11] 


285-286 Even if it should happen that, owing to some special disfavor of fortune, or the niggardly provision of a step-motherly nature, this should wholly lack power to accomplish its purpose, if with its greatest efforts it should yet achieve nothing, and here should remain only the good will…then, like a jewel, it would still shine by its own light, as a thing which has its whole value in itself.  Its usefulness or fruitfulness can neither add nor take away anything from this value. 


According to Kant, moral problems arise because we are not necessitated to do our duty—as he would put it, we are not subjectively necessitated to do what is objectively necessary (our duty).  Note how different this account is from the Christian one (sinfulness), or the Hobbesian one (failures of rationality and egoism).  In short, for Kant the inclinations may dictate to the will—just as our reason can.  According to him, while our passions often direct our actions, there is a class of actions (the moral ones) where reason must lead, guide, or rule the passions.  Thus, for him, duty is to be strongly contrasted with inclination—a grocer may be inclined to give the correct change to customers because doing so is good business, but the grocer will be moral only if the grocer gives the correct change because it is the her or his duty. 


     Here it is appropriate to note the title of the work we will be examining (Foundations for the Metaphysics for Morals).  The title is important—he is going to show the “groundwork” of the metaphysical foundations of morals!  He doesn’t believe that this work does a full job of laying the groundwork, but it does sketch out what the metaphysical presuppositions of morality are, and we have just touched on several of the essential presuppositions:


the fact that we are not subjectively necessitated to do what is objectively necessary (normally this is called “freedom of the will”); and


the role of reason in determining what the will should “will” (the view that the objective moral laws are rational and knowable). 


     When the will is determined by reason, according to Kant, there is a maxim behind the action—a rule which describes the reasoning which determines the will.  Kant maintains that when the will is motivated by appropriate maxims, it is a good will.  That is, he maintains that we judge the moral worth of a will independently of the consequences of its willing—in fact, consideration of the consequences of our actions is irrelevant on his view.  In short, Kant’s moral theory is deontological rather than teleological: [12]


As Pojman notes, “whereas teleological the ultimate criterion of morality in some nonmoral value (for example, happiness) that results from acts, deontological systems assert that certain features in the act itself have intrinsic value.”[13] 


Kant warns against what he calls the “serpent-windings of utilitarianism”[14] which require that we treat people as means and pay attention to consequences.  For him, what is important is our acting from duty, and he holds to this rigorously: “even if civil society resolved to dissolve itself with the consent of all its members—as might be supposed in the case of a people inhabiting an island resolving to separate and scatter themselves throughout the whole world—the last murderer lying in the prison ought to be executed before the resolution was carried out.  This ought to be done in order that every one may realize the desert of his deeds, and that bloodguiltiness may not remain upon the people; for otherwise they might all be regarded as participators in the murder as a public violation of justice.”[15]  As we shall see, Kant is unrelenting in his demands that we adhere to our duties. 


     As noted above, Kant’s question for the practical [moral] philosopher is: “What motivates the will—what makes it good?  He maintains that the good will (1) knows its duty and (2) does the dutiful act because it is dutiful.  What makes a person praiseworthy is not what she or he achieves, but rather whether she or he acts [solely] from regard (or “reverence”) for duty.  To see whether an act is praiseworthy we look not at its consequences but rather at the question of motivation, and we judge it praiseworthy only if the motivation is one of duty.  Notice that we make a distinction between murder1, murder2, murder3, and justifiable homicide; and the distinction is not drawn from a consideration of consequences.[16] 


     For Kant, we need to distinguish:


actions done from (or because of) the moral law,




actions which are (merely) in accord with the moral law. 


Kant does not praise the latter.  For him, to be praiseworthy, one’s actions must be the result of a will which is motivated [solely] by respect for the [rational] law. 


     What, then, does reason dictate to us?  Kant distinguishes rational maxims (or imperatives) which guide our action into two classes:


categorical and hypothetical imperatives. 


According to Kant, the tests of moral [categorical] maxims are rational tests:


we must consider consistency and noncontradiction,


we must consider universalizability,


we must consider respect for rational beings,


we must consider respect (or “reverence”) for rationality itself. 


The dominant classical moral theories were teleological.  With the spread of Christianity, however, the notion of obligation or duty came more to the cultural foreground in the West—the correct act was seen to be the one which was done because it was the law of the deity.  Like such Christians, Kant holds that the correct act is the one done from an awareness of, and out of a respect for, the law.  But this raises the question of the law-giver, and unlike such Christians, Kant does not ground morality in a deity (though he talks a lot about one).  Instead, he maintains that it is [pure a priori] reason which tells us what our duty is.  Here, of course, he is a characteristic (some would say “the prototypical”) Enlightenment thinker.  Throughout this work Kant uses four cases to illustrate what reason tells us:


a. First example (a perfect duty[17] to oneself): refraining from committing suicide. 


b. Second example (a perfect duty to others): giving a lying promise. 


c. Third example (imperfect duty to oneself): the neglect of natural talents. 


d. Fourth example (imperfect duty to others): the duty to help others who are in distress. 


These four examples are discussed in the context of three different formulations of Kant’s categorical imperative:[18]


1. Universalize the maxim à consistency—the first treatment of the four cases argues that our maxims must be consistently willable. 


2. Treat people as ends not as means only à end-in-itself—the second treatment of the four cases argues that we must not act so as to treat people as means only. 


3. Will and follow the law autonomously à autonomy—the third formulation of the categorical imperative sees every will as a universally legislative will.  A will which contained on the rational component (one unmoved by inclinations) would be what Kant calls a “holy will.”  It would always do its duty.  For it there would be no imperatives because what is objectively necessary would also be subjectively necessary! 


According to Kant, a categorical imperative is possible only if there is something which commands absolute obedience—that is some imperative which is not as a hypothetical imperative!  For him, this categorical imperative is respect (or “reverence”) for reason:


that is, each of us regards our “self” as an end and not as a mere means—and what’s true of one is true of all.  According to Kant, “rational nature exists as an end-in-itself.”  That is, it is never right to treat a person (rational creature) merely as a means. 


-301 “…man and generally any rational being exists as an end it himself, not merely as a means to be arbitrarily used by this or that will;, but in all his actions, whether they concern himself or other rational beings, must be always regarded at the same time as an end.  All objects of the inclinations have only conditional worth…. 


-“…that which is necessarily an end for everyone because it is an end in itself, constitutes an objective principle of will, and can therefore serve as a universal practical law.  The foundation of this principle is: rational nature exists as an end in itself.  Man necessarily conceives his own existence as being so; so far then this is a subjective principle of human actions.  But every other rational being regards its existence similarly, just on the same rational principle that holds for me: so that it is at the same time an objective principle, from which as a supreme practical law all laws of the will must be capable of being deduced.  Accordingly the practical imperative will be as follows: So act as to treat humanity, whether in your own person or in that of any other, in every instance as an end withal, never as a means only. 


     Ultimately, for Kant, all talk of morality involves talk of an autonomous will and its duty:


morality and self-imposed laws which are universal. 


According to Kant, stones, dogs, and men are all subject to universal laws.  But a will which acts on principle is subject to laws in a different sense from a stone or dog.  Morality, for Kant, requires an autonomous will which follows self-imposed principles—or maxims.  These are dictated by one’s reason!  The contrast here is to heteronomous wills which are subject to externally dictated laws. 


Of course, the idea of autonomous wills requires the notion of [metaphysical] freedom—we must be free to follow the dictates of reason and, thus, freedom is a necessary [metaphysical] postulate of practical reason.  According to Kant, morality is possible only on this postulate.  Moreover, he argues, since we do make moral judgments, we may conclude that we are free! 


     But, one may ask, “How can Kant legitimately conceive of us as free?”  Can we know that we are [metaphysically] free?  Kant offers a qualified “No.”  This brings us to his famous distinction between noumena and phenomena:


introduce the distinction by distinguishing between observable phenomena and underlying atomic structure, then clarify by Kant’s view that physical/empirical experience is always conditioned by “the categories” (such as space and time). 


Can we make any justified knowledge claims about noumena?  Well, according to Kant, all of our knowledge claims are, really, about phenomena.  In regard to the noumena [things-in-themselves], however, we may make assumptions and, according to Kant, these assumptions may be justified transcendentally:


In his “Royce: The Absolute and the Beloved Community Revisited,” John E. Smith maintains that “the quest for the conditions which make the actual possible is the task of transcendental philosophy.  This reflective enterprise is novel in that it cannot be carried out on the basis of either of the two classical forms of thought: deduction, and induction or probable inference.”[19] 


-Consider a black-box experiment in science (or an unknown element experiment).  If these results are observed, we may justifiably conclude that the original has such and such characteristics—as long as we have antecedently determined that the original could have such characteristics. 


For Kant, transcendental arguments establish the truth of a class of synthetic a priori propositions.  These propositions are characterized by “transcendental” (rather than “logical”) necessity—that is to say, if we are to have the character, experience, and knowledge that we do, these propositions and judgments must be necessary though their denials are not contradictions.  This class of propositions is, according to many, odd.  Shouldn’t all propositions be either a priori or syntheticbut not both?  Kant doesn’t agree.  He holds that some propositions are both a priori and synthetic.  The distinction between analytic and synthetic propositions is best made in terms of an alleged connection between meaning and truth: analytic propositions are supposed to be such that when one understands their meaning, one sees that they must be true—they are not ampliative (they do not present any new information)—and they are characterized by necessity and universality. Note that we can not simply say that the “analytic” is simply a function of meaning however—it is a mistake to consider analytic propositions as merely “definitional” truths.  Definitions are about words and the analytic propositions are taken to be about things: “All bodies are extended things” as an analytic truth is not to be taken as a truth about `bodies’ and `extended things’ but, rather, about bodies and extended things! 


     Kant distinguishes between analytic and synthetic propositions first by asking whether the concept of the predicate is “contained in” the concept of the subject;” and, secondly, by asking whether the denial of the judgment involves a contradiction.  He also maintains that all analytic judgments are a priori ones (since their truth may be ascertained by considering concepts only and not by appealing to experience).  For him, synthetic judgments are to be ampliative (or informative)—they tell us something about the subject by connecting or “synthesizing” two different concepts under which the subject is subsumed.  Analytic judgments are not informative—they simply elucidate or analyze the concept under which the subject falls. 


     The synthetic a priori propositions, of course are “synthetic,” and, thus, their denials aren’t contradictions and the “predicate” is not “contained in” the “subject.”  Nonetheless, they can not be established by appeal to our experience—they are a priori.  Consider, for example “Everything which happens has a cause.”  This is universal and necessary, but the predicate (“having a cause”) is not “contained in” the subject (“an event”).  Consider, also “everything in space is in time” and “the world has a beginning.”  For Kant, these truths can not be proved a posteriori, they are metaphysical claims which extend our understanding, and their denials are not logical contradictions. their necessity, then, can only be established “transcendentally.”  While there is much more to be said on this subject, I will confine our attention to here to the status of the Categorical Imperative. 


     For Kant, the Categorical Imperative is a synthetic a priori truth—it can not be established empirically, yet its denial is not a logical contradiction.  It is informative, universal, necessary, and true.  According to him it is requisite if we are to conceive of ourselves as free, rational, autonomous agents, and we can not but think of ourselves as such. 


Thus for him, freedom (and, in addition, a deity and immortality) are the assumptions which are necessary postulates for the existence of practical reason.  Morality, then, is possible only if we do make judgments and, thus, are free. 


To understand this, however, we need to turn to the readings. 



Notes: (click on note number to return to text for the note)

[1] Frederick Copleston, A History of Philosophy v. 6 [1960] (N.Y.: Image, 1994), p. 180.  Even Copleston recognizes that his account is too minimalistic here—see his account of the reaction of Frederick William II to Kant's Religion Within The Bounds of Reason Alone (pp. 183 ff.). 

[2] "Immanuel Kant," Encyclopedia Britannica Online,, accessed 22 February 2001. 

[3] Frederick Copleston, A History of Philosophy v. 6, op. cit., p. 183. 

[4] Marry J. Gregor, "Translator's Introduction" to The Conflict of the Faculties [1798] by Immanuel Kant, trans. Mary J. Gregor (N.Y.: Abaris, 1979), pp. vii-xxix, p. ix. 

[5] Ibid., p. ix. 

[6] Ibid., p. xii. 

[7] Ibid., p. xiv. 

[8] Immanuel Kant to Frederick William II, reprinted in The Conflict of the Faculties, op. cit., pp. 13-19, p. 19.

[9] Jostein Gaarder, Sophie's World: A Novel About the History of Philosophy, trans. Paulette Moller (N.Y.: Farr, Straus and Giroux, 1994), p. 259. 

[10] David Hume, A Treatise of Human Nature [1739], ed. L.A. Shelby-Biggie [1888] (second edition), revised by P.H. Nidditch (Oxford: Oxford U.P., 1978), p. 455.  The passage is reprinted in the selection from Hume in Ethical Theory: Classical and Contemporary Readings (sixth edition), eds. Louis Pojman and James Fieser (Belmont: Wadsworth, 2011), p. 501. 

[11] Immanuel Kant, Foundations for the Metaphysic of Morals [1785], trans. T.K. Abbott.  The citation is from the selection in Ethical Theory: Classic and Contemporary Readings (sixth edition), ed. Louis Pojman and James Fieser (Belmont: Wadsworth, 2011), pp., 282-319.  All further citations to this work are to this selection and the page references are included with the citations. 

[12] In ethical theory a deontological theory is very unlike a teleological one, it “...does not regard principles of duty or obligation as owing their status to the fact that acting in the way they prescribe tends to realize certain desirable states of affairs, whereas a teleological theory...holds that this is what renders a principle of obligation acceptable” (William Alston, “Concepts of Epistemic Justification" [1985], in his Epistemic Justification (Ithaca: Cornell U.P., 1989), p. 15.  Cf. his “The Deontological Conception of Epistemic Justification” [1988] p.115 in the same volume).  In teleological ethical systems, ends are taken as fundamental, and norms or imperatives are derivative from them; while in deontological systems norms or imperatives are taken as fundamental. 

[13] Louis Pojman, “Kantian and Deontological Systems,” in Ethical Theory: Classical and Contemporary Readings, op. cit., pp. 276-280, p. 276.

[14] Cf., Kant’s The Philosophy of Law [1797], as cited in James Rachels, The Right Thing to Do (New York: Random House, 1989), p. 234. 

[15] Ibid., p. 235. 

[16] Murder1 is premeditated murder (and murder committed during certain felonies), while murder2 is unpremeditated, but intentional, murder.  Murder3 is murder committed during certain more minor felonies.  Voluntary manslaughter arises where one intends to hurt but not kill, and involuntary manslaughter is unintended killing. 

[17] As Fred Feldman points out in his Introductory Ethics, “by ‘perfect duty,’ Kant says he means a duty ‘which admits of no exception in the interests of inclination’....On the other hand, if a person has an imperfect duty to do a kind of action, then he must at least sometimes perform an action of that kind when the opportunity arises” (Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, 1978), p. 106.  This work is available on Reserve in the Green Library. 

[18] There are three versions (or formulations) in the work, but only two are presented in our reading selection.  I will discuss the third in this supplement as a background understanding of it helps place Kant’s overall view in a clearer perspective. 

[19] John E. Smith, “Royce: The Absolute and the Beloved Community Revisited” [1982] in Smith’s America's Philosophical Vision (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago, 1992), pp. 121-137, p. 126.  The essay originally appeared in Boston Studies in Philosophy and Religion, ed. Leroy S. Rouner (Notre Dame: Univ. of Notre Dame, 1982). 

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