Good will and the moral worth of acting from duty
In Thomas E. Hill (ed.), The Blackwell Guide to Kant's Ethics. Wiley-Blackwell (2009)
The first section of the Groundwork begins “It is impossible to imagine anything at all in the world, or even beyond it, that can be called good without qualification— except a good will.”1 Kant’s explanation and defense of this claim is followed by an explanation and defense of another related claim, that only actions performed out of duty have moral worth. He explains that actions performed out of duty are those done from respect for the moral law, and then culminates the first section with a formulation of that law, “I ought never to act except in such a way that I could also will that my maxim should become a universal law”. Kant dubs this fundamental principle of morality “the Categorical Imperative”.
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