The Moral Law, the Categorical Imperative, and the Reciprocity Thesis

Henry E. Allison

in Kant's Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780199691531
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191731808 | DOI:
The Moral Law, the Categorical Imperative, and the Reciprocity Thesis

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This is the first of three chapters dealing with Kant’s attempt to provide a deduction (justification) of the categorical imperative. It suggests that this deduction occurs in stages, involving the deductions of both the moral law, which describes the volition of a perfectly rational or holy will, and the presupposition of freedom. The foundation of this deduction and the central topic of the chapter is Kant’s claim that “a free will and a will under moral laws are one and the same thing,” which is called the “reciprocity thesis.” The argument for this thesis is analyzed and defended; and it is pointed out that its importance stems from the fact that it entails that freedom of the will is both a necessary and a sufficient condition for standing under the moral law.

Keywords: categorical imperative; deduction; free will; holy will; moral law; reciprocity thesis

Chapter.  15758 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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