Formal Principles and Objective Ends

David Cummiskey

in Kantian Consequentialism

Published in print April 1996 | ISBN: 9780195094534
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199833146 | DOI:
Formal Principles and Objective Ends

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Kant argued at length against the idea that moral principles could be “material” principles, but consequentialist principles presuppose a theory of the good and thus seem to be material principles. After a careful explication of Kant's distinction between formal principles and material principles, especially as it is developed in The Critique of Practical Reason, we see that a consequentialist principle can indeed be a formal principle, and that they can even pass the universalizability test for moral principles. The formula of universal law is compatible with consequentialism.

Keywords: consequentialism; formal principle; material principle; principles; the good; universal law; universalizability

Chapter.  7640 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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