Schopenhauer's Rejection of the Moral Ought

In Patrick Hassan (ed.), Schopenhauer's Moral Philosophy. Routledge. pp. 12-30 (2022)
  Copy   BIBTEX


More than a century before Anscombe counseled us to jettison concepts such as that of the moral ought, or moral law, Schopenhauer mounted a vigorous attack on such prescriptive moral concepts, particularly as found in Kant. In this chapter I consider the four objections that constitute this attack. According to the first, Kant begs the question by merely assuming that ethics has a prescriptive or legislative-imperative form, when a purely descriptive-explanatory conception such as Schopenhauer’s also presents itself as a possibility. According to the second, Kant’s purportedly philosophical ethics is in fact a theological ethics in disguise, because the moral ought and its prescriptive cousins presuppose a divine lawgiver. According to the third, Kant’s conceptions of the moral law as a law of freedom, and of moral imperatives as categorical or unconditioned, involve him in contradictions. Finally, Schopenhauer objects that there can be no such thing as a moral ought because a binding ought or law must be understood to operate through appeals to self-interest, which stands in opposition to morality. I contend that these last three objections are sound and that the fourth in particular succeeds in confuting the prescriptivist conception of morality.



External links

  • This entry has no external links. Add one.
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Schopenhauer and Kant.Peter Welsen - 2005 - Revista Portuguesa de Filosofia 61 (3):757-772.
Schopenhauer's Critique of Kantian Ethics.Julian Young - 1984 - Kant Studien 75 (1-4):191-212.
Kant's Conception of Inner Value.Oliver Sensen - 2009 - European Journal of Philosophy 19 (2):262-280.
Schopenhauer's Interpretation of the Categorical Imperative.Peter Welsen - 2005 - Revista Portuguesa de Filosofia 61 (3/4):757 - 772.
Can Positive Duties be Derived from Kant’s Categorical Imperative?Michael Yudanin - 2015 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 18 (3):595-614.
Schopenhauer's Critique of Kant's Foundation for Morals.Mark Lehman Koontz - 1993 - Dissertation, University of Pennsylvania
The education of the categorical imperative.James Scott Johnston - 2006 - Studies in Philosophy and Education 25 (5-6):385-402.
JAK PRZEKONAĆ KANTA DO KŁAMSTWA? APORIE IMPERATYWU KATEGORYCZNEGO.Michał Piekarz - 2015 - Hybris, Revista de Filosofí­A (30):[113-131.
Schopenhauer and Non-Cognitivist Moral Realism.Colin Marshall - 2017 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 55 (2):293-316.
The Basis of Morality.Arthur Schopenhauer - 1903 - London,: Dover Publications. Edited by Arthur Brodrick Bullock.
Schopenhauer, Kant and Compassion.Paul Guyer - 2012 - Kantian Review 17 (3):403-429.


Added to PP

472 (#30,832)

6 months
135 (#12,395)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Stephen Puryear
North Carolina State University

Citations of this work

Schopenhauer and Modern Moral Philosophy.Stephen Puryear - 2023 - In David Bather Woods & Timothy Stoll (eds.), The Schopenhauerian Mind. Abingdon: Routledge. pp. 228-40.

Add more citations

References found in this work

Ethics and the limits of philosophy.Bernard Williams - 1985 - Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
Modern Moral Philosophy.G. E. M. Anscombe - 1958 - Philosophy 33 (124):1 - 19.
Morality as a system of hypothetical imperatives.Philippa Foot - 1972 - Philosophical Review 81 (3):305-316.
The province of jurisprudence determined.John Austin (ed.) - 1832 - Indianapolis, IN: Hackett.

View all 21 references / Add more references