Kant’s Derivation of the Formula of Universal Law

Dialogue 49 (1):113-133 (2010)
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ABSTRACT: Critics have charged that there are gaps in the logic of Kant’s derivation of the formula of universal law. Here I defend that derivation against these charges, partly by emphasizing a neglected teleological principle that Kant alluded to in his argument, and partly by clarifying what he meant by actions’ “conformity to universal law.” He meant that actions conform to universal law just when their maxims can belong to a unified system of principles. An analogy with objects’ conformity to universal law in nature helps show how Kant was correct in deriving the formula of universal law from the premises of his argument. RÉSUMÉ: Certains ont critiqué la dérivation de la formule de la loi universelle de Kant parce que la logique en serait lacunaire. Je prends la défense de la dérivation, en mettant d’abord l’accent sur un principe téléologique auquel Kant fait allusion dans son argument et, ensuite, en clarifiant ce que celui-ci entend par la «conformité à la loi universelle» des actions. Kant maintenait que les actions étaient conformes à une loi universelle seulement lorsque leurs maximes appartiennent à un système unifié de principes. Une analogie avec la conformité à la loi universelle des objets dans la nature aide à montrer pourquoi Kant avait raison de dériver la formule de la loi universelle des prémisses de son argument



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Richard McCarty
East Carolina University

References found in this work

Groundwork for the metaphysics of morals.Immanuel Kant - 1785 - New York: Oxford University Press. Edited by Thomas E. Hill & Arnulf Zweig.
Creating the Kingdom of Ends.Christine M. Korsgaard - 1996 - New York, NY, USA: Cambridge University Press.
An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals.David Hume - 1751 - New York,: Oxford University Press UK. Edited by Tom L. Beauchamp.
Groundwork of the metaphysics of morals.Immanuel Kant - 2007 - In Elizabeth Schmidt Radcliffe, Richard McCarty, Fritz Allhoff & Anand Vaidya (eds.), Late modern philosophy: essential readings with commentary. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.
Kant’s Ethical Thought.Allen W. Wood - 1999 - New York: Cambridge University Press.

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