The paper should be 1500 words (approximately 5 pages) long and should present an exegesis of the text and a focused argument for the accuracy of your reading.
Concentrate on presenting the argument you are writing about in clear, concise terms, being sure to note the logical relationships between the various steps you are presenting. If the argument is not valid, explain why. If you take the argument to be valid, present at least one possible misreading on which the argument would be invalid and show the error of the misreading.
Topics for paper: (Please choose a topic that you can write about best)
One of Mackie’s arguments against the objectivity of values is that they are ‘queer’ entities, somewhere in between the natural world and the moral world. First, lay out what Mackie means by ‘queer’. Second, lay out Kant’s account of how moral truths exist with respect to the natural and moral world, including his attention to the notion that rational beings are ‘causes’. Then, assess whether this account of Kant’s in fact does qualify as ‘queer’ on Mackie’s terms, and whether this has any consequences for Kant’s argument.
Williams is much more concerned than Kant about what might happen if we don’t have any motivation to perform our duty. First, follow William’s argument of why we might lack the requisite motivation. Second, present Kant’s argument about the relationship between obligation and motivation. Can we know anything about why, for example, we sometimes feel pleasure when we act in accordance with duty? Can/should we do anything about it if we don’t? Do we have any responsibility for our feelings? Do we simply need a desire to do our duty?
Dancy argues that what he calls the ‘three part story’ alienates us from our reasons for action. How does this argument work? How do these considerations line up with Kant’s argument that we are beings divided between the sensible and the intelligible world? Does Kant need some additional account of the way that the intelligible part manages to determine the sensible part (or vice versa)? Lay out Kant’s account of the division, paying particular attention to the question of what it means to act for a reason.
Zangwill and Kant look like they could have a good argument. Zangwill denies that one can act from a contentless moral motive to do one’s duty, whereas Kant argues that morality requires that we act for precisely such a motive. First, outline both of these arguments. What is the importance to Kant of the formalism of the determination of duty? Why does Zangwill think that such a motive can’t work? Is Zangwill abandoning morality, or is Kant committing us all to be psychopaths with good deeds?
Foot’s argument is as straightforward as it is powerful. Concentrate on the claim that ignoring the demands of morality results in villainy, rather than inconsistency. Then present Kant’s argument that failure to do one’s duty results precisely in inconsistency, being sure to explain why this result (rather than the result of villainy) is important to Kant’s project. Finally, who wins? What do we give up by giving up this aspect of Kantianism? Or, alternatively, what is Foot missing?
Korsgaard supplies an interesting extension or interpretation to Kant’s morality: she claims that reasons provide motivation. First: is this an extension or an interpretation? What does Kant have to say about the motivating force of reasons? Why should we care about morality? Kant seems to suggest (at least sometimes) that questions about motivation are for psychology. Is Korsgaard simply making psychological claims under the guise of philosophy, or is she still working within Kant’s system? How does she derive the motivational force of practical reasons, and how does this fit into Kant’s project?
Kant’s treatment of perfect duties is relatively straightforward. What about the treatment of imperfect duties? How do perfect duties compare to imperfect duties, and exactly how is the application of the categorical imperative to imperfect duties supposed to work? Outline Kant’s arguments at these points, and relate them to his corresponding arguments for perfect duties. You can use his treatment of perfect duties as the standard for evaluating his treatment of imperfect duties, and argue that his treatment of imperfect duties is or is not satisfactory.
One might think that there seem to be three different groups within the five formulae of the categorical imperative: first there are the two formulations in terms of universal laws, then the formulations in terms of the end in itself and autonomy, and then the formulation of the kingdom of ends. Using this framework or a suitable alternative, work with the text and your own analytic prowess to demonstrate the logical connections between these groups. What steps or principles are needed to move from one to the next? Are they in fact equivalents, and if so, how does the equivalency work? Make sure across this explication that you give a full account of what Kant has to say about all of this as well as your own evaluation of his account.
The post Text required is Immanuel Kant – Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals- On a Supposed Right to Lie because of Philanthropic Concerns (Translated by James W. Ellington)
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