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Reading: Kant’s Implicit Suggestion of the Negative Formulation of Duty

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Kant’s Implicit Suggestion of the Negative Formulation of Duty

Author:

Gilbert Enenajor

Trent University, CA
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Abstract

In this paper I argue that in Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals Kant suggests that while I can never know when I am acting from duty, I can know when I am not acting from duty. In this paper I neither reconcile Kant’s imperatives with his statement that we will never know if we are definitely acting on his maxims, nor do I mount an argument against his perfectionist ideal theory. Instead I propose a negative formulation of his perfectionist ideal theory that argues Kant implicitly suggests I can only know when I am not acting from duty. First, I describe how the conditions of moral worth which Kant outlines make it so that I can never definitely know if I am acting from duty. I then take these conditions and show that Kant indirectly suggests that I can, however, know when I am not acting from duty. Specifically I examine the conditions Kant places on moral actions viz. the relationship inclinations and duty have with the moral worth of an action. Next, I provide a non-exhaustive refutation of potential arguments against my negative formulation proposition. Finally I discuss the implications of my negative formulation proposition on Kant’s perfectionist ideal theory as a whole.

How to Cite: Enenajor, G., 2013. Kant’s Implicit Suggestion of the Negative Formulation of Duty. International Journal of Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities, 5(2), pp.16 (131–134). DOI: http://doi.org/10.7710/2155-4838.1086
Published on 19 Jun 2013.
Peer Reviewed

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