Hegel's Empty Formalism Critique


In the Elements of the Philosophy of Right, G.W.F Hegel asks: can the Categorical Imperative (CI) determine our duties? Though Kant thinks that the CI can indicate to us (a) what our duties are, and (b) why we are obligated to do them, Hegel thinks that Kant is mistaken. According to Hegel, the CI is not able to do either (a) or (b) because it employs only a universalizability test and the criterion of non-contradiction to give an account for both. If Kant is able to direct us to our duties from the CI, it is only because, in Hegel’s view, Kant has presupposed certain content-filled principles in the universalizability test. However, Kant is not justified to bring in outside content because of his formalist commitment to adhere only to the form of universality when conducting practical legislation.



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