Chapter

: The Singleness of the Categorical Imperative

Henry E. Allison

in Essays on Kant

Published in print June 2012 | ISBN: 9780199647033
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191741166 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199647033.003.0010
: The Singleness of the Categorical Imperative

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This essay defends Kant's thesis that there is only a single categorical imperative. This needs a defense because in the Groundwork Kant presents a number of formulations of this imperative (the precise number itself being subject to dispute), which are not obviously equivalent. Its strategy is to show that these formulations result from Kant's attempt to provide a complete construction of the concept of the categorical imperative by linking them with various steps in a progressive account of rational agency. By the complete construction of the concept is understood an account of the necessary and sufficient conditions of the possibility of the categorical imperative. Kant's analysis of rational agency is termed progressive because each step, which is correlated with a distinct formula, adds a fresh dimension to the conception of such agency. The claim is that this makes it possible to view these formulas as extensionally but not intentionally equivalent.

Keywords: categorical imperative; complete construction; extensional equivalence; formula; Groundwork; intensional equivalence; rational agency

Chapter.  7307 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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