In Patrick Hassan (ed.), Schopenhauer's Moral Philosophy. Routledge (forthcoming)

Stephen Puryear
North Carolina State University
More than a century before Anscombe counseled us to jettison concepts such as that of the moral ought, or moral law, Schopenhauer mounted a vigorous attack on such prescriptive moral concepts, particularly as found in Kant. In this chapter I consider the four objections that constitute this attack. According to the first, Kant begs the question by merely assuming that ethics has a prescriptive or legislative-imperative form, when a purely descriptive-explanatory conception such as Schopenhauer’s also presents itself as a possibility. According to the second, Kant’s purportedly philosophical ethics is in fact a theological ethics in disguise, because the moral ought and its prescriptive cousins presuppose a divine lawgiver. According to the third, Kant’s conceptions of the moral law as a law of freedom, and of moral imperatives as categorical or unconditioned, involve him in contradictions. Finally, Schopenhauer objects that there can be no such thing as a moral ought because a binding ought or law must be understood to operate through appeals to self-interest, which stands in opposition to morality. I contend that these last three objections are sound and that the fourth in particular succeeds in confuting the prescriptivist conception of morality.
Keywords Schopenhauer  Anscombe  Kant  categorical imperative  moral law  moral ought
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Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy.Bernard Williams - 1985 - Harvard University Press.
Modern Moral Philosophy.G. E. M. Anscombe - 1958 - Philosophy 33 (124):1 - 19.
Morality as a System of Hypothetical Imperatives.Philippa Foot - 1972 - Philosophical Review 81 (3):305-316.
Good and Evil.Richard Taylor - 2000 - Prometheus Books.

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