Journal of Value Inquiry 47 (1-2):67-85 (2013)

Immanuel Kant's moral thesis is that reason alone must identify moral laws. Examining various interpretations of his ethics, this essay shows that the thesis fails. G. W. F. Hegel criticizes Kant's Formula of Universal Law as an empty formalism. Although Christine Korsgaard's Logical and Practical Contradiction Interpretations, Barbara Herman's contradiction in conception and contradiction in will tests, and Kenneth Westphal's paired use of Kant's universalization test all refute what Allen Wood calls a stronger form of the formalism charge, they are not free from a weaker form of it. Some philosophers try to avoid both forms of the formalism charge in the following ways: First, some underline the roles of Kant's other formulas. Second, some interpret the Formula of Universal Law teleologically. Third, some claim that a maxim must be something all those potentially affected by it can rationally accept. Fourth, Robert Louden introduces the empirical to evaluate a maxim. All those attempts introduce heteronomy into Kant's ethics. Besides, on the third response, from the fact that all those potentially affected accept a maxim, it does not follow that it is morally right. It is impossible to avoid the formalism charge without making his ethics heteronomous. Thus, Kant's ethics is either empty or heteronomous. Either way it fails to identify moral laws by reason alone.
Keywords Immanuel Kant  Practical Reason  Categorical Imperative  Moral Laws  Formalism  Heteronomy  Consensus  Discourse Ethics  Moral Epistemology  Metaethics
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Reprint years 2013
DOI 10.1007/s10790-013-9384-y
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References found in this work BETA

Sentimentalism and Metaphysical Beliefs.Noriaki Iwasa - 2010 - Prolegomena 9 (2):271-286.
Practical Reason: Categorical Imperative, Maxims, Laws.Kenneth R. Westphal - 2010 - In W. Dudley & K. Engelhard (eds.), Kant: Key Concepts. Acumen Publishing.
Grading Religions.Noriaki Iwasa - 2011 - Sophia 50 (1):189-209.
On Three Defenses of Sentimentalism.Noriaki Iwasa - 2013 - Prolegomena 12 (1):61-82.
Sentimentalism and the Is-Ought Problem.Noriaki Iwasa - 2011 - Croatian Journal of Philosophy 11 (3):323-352.

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Citations of this work BETA

Thinking About Cases: Applying Kant's Universal Law Formula.Jochen Bojanowski - 2018 - European Journal of Philosophy 26 (4):1253-1268.
Moral Applicability of Agrippa’s Trilemma.Noriaki Iwasa - 2013 - Croatian Journal of Philosophy 13 (1):109-128.

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