The Categorical Imperative and Kant's Conception of Practical Rationality

Andrews Reath

in Agency and Autonomy in Kant's Moral Theory

Published in print February 2006 | ISBN: 9780199288830
Published online May 2006 | e-ISBN: 9780191603648 | DOI:
 The Categorical Imperative and Kant's Conception of Practical Rationality

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This chapter outlines an explanation of how Kant grounds morality in reason. It argues that all rational choice is guided by normative considerations (reasons with normative force for the agent). In moral choice, the reasons from which the agent acts are in fact sufficient to justify the action to anyone. Such a view underlies Kant's derivation of the Categorical Imperative, and offers the best understanding of the connection that he draws between moral principles and the nature of practical reason. The chapter offers a reconstruction of the derivation of the Formula of Universal Law in the first two sections of the Groundwork. Section II provides an overview of the argument of Groundwork, I, which explains how Kant thinks that the concept of morality implicit in ordinary thought leads to the Formula of Universal Law (FUL). Sections III through V explain, respectively, what leads Kant to undertake another derivation of the FUL in Groundwork, II — this time one that traces it to the nature of practical reason; his conception of practical reason; and how it is most fully expressed by the Categorical Imperative.

Keywords: practical rationality; universal law; rational choice; Categorical Imperative; normative considerations

Chapter.  13751 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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