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requirements is a “phantom of the brain” (see section I.3).
14. For a similar point, see Marcia W. Baron, Kantian Ethics Almost without Apology
(Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1995), 181“182.
15. In the roughly two pages that remain in Groundwork I, Kant tries to show the
need to engage in a more rigorously philosophical discussion of the supreme
principle of morality. This discussion takes place in Groundwork II.
16. Strictly speaking, the principle is a preliminary version of the Formula of Univer-
sal Law. Kant sets out the canonical version of this formula later, in Groundwork
II (GMS 421). The preliminary version is this: “I ought never to act except in such a
way that I could also will that my maxim should become a universal law” (GMS 402).
Notes to pp. 79“90 207

17. This reconstruction is based on Bruce Aune, Kant™s Theory of Morals (Princeton:
Princeton University Press, 1979), 32“33.
18. At GMS 397, Kant says that he is going to explicate the concept of a good will
through exploring the concept of duty, “which contains that of a good will
though under certain subjective limitations and hindrances.” It is clear that
these subjective limitations and hindrances are inclinations the ful¬llment of
which would involve acting contrary to what morality requires.
19. For Kant™s suggestion that moral worth is unconditional worth, see GMS 400.
Kant refers to the “unquali¬ed worth” of actions at GMS 411.
20. See, for example, Barbara Herman, The Practice of Moral Judgment (Cambridge,
Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1993), 1; Henry E. Allison, Kant™s Theory of
Freedom (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990), 107, and Baron,
Kantian Ethics Almost without Apology, 28, n. 19. That Kant held that only ac-
tions from duty have moral worth is strongly suggested in his discussion of cases
from GMS 397“399. In the second Critique, Kant con¬rms that this is his view:
“[M]oral worth must be placed solely in this: that the action takes place from
duty, that is, for the sake of the law alone” (KpV 81). As Thomas E. Hill Jr.
has pointed out to me, Kant does not in the Groundwork explicitly state that
all actions from duty have moral worth. However, I think Kant strongly implies
that he holds this near the end of GMS 399: “The second proposition is this:
an action from duty has its moral worth not in the purpose to be attained by it but
in the maxim in accordance with which it is decided upon” (emphasis added,
Kant™s emphasis omitted).
21. At GMS 400, Kant suggests that in an action done from duty, the will is deter-
mined by the law.
22. For Kant™s usage of the term “impulse,” see GMS 434, 444.
23. See also the end of GMS 427 and the beginning of GMS 428.
24. Yet, as we noted in section 1.8, this is not the end of the story. Under Theorem II,
Kant states that all material principles place the determining ground of the will
in the pleasure or displeasure to be received from an object. On Kant™s concep-
tion, an agent has suf¬cient motive to conform to a material practical principle
only if he expects that doing so will result in the realization of some object he
desires (e.g., his visiting Grant™s tomb) and he expects that realizing this object
will have a hedonic payoff. Whenever an agent acts on a material practical prin-
ciple, that is, follows the principle™s prescription for trying to realize an object,
she has some hedonic motivation.
25. For what might be a different way Kant has of distinguishing between material
and formal principles, see the end of GMS 427 and the beginning of GMS 428.
Allison offers a helpful discussion of some dif¬culties in Kant™s use of the term
“formal.” See Henry E. Allison, Idealism and Freedom (Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 1996), 150.
26. See Henry E. Allison, Kant™s Transcendental Idealism (New Haven: Yale University
Press, 1983), 78.
27. With regard to theoretical rules, Kant says the following: “[E]xperience never
confers on its judgments true or strict, but only assumed and comparative
universality, through induction. We can properly only say, therefore, that, so far
as we have hitherto observed, there is no exception to this or that rule. If, then,
a judgment is thought with strict universality, that is, in such a manner that
Notes to pp. 91“99
208

no exception is allowed as possible, it is not derived from experience, but is
valid absolutely a priori. Empirical universality is only an arbitrary extension of a
validity holding in most cases to one which holds in all” (KrV B 3“4). Just as
empirically based universality is insuf¬cient to ground theoretical rules that al-
low of no possible exception, so it is insuf¬cient to ground practical rules that
allow of none. See KpV 26.
28. Kant claims to prove the validity of the principle, “[A]ct on no other maxim
than that which can also have as object itself as a universal law” (GMS 447).


Chapter 5: Criteria for the Supreme Principle of Morality
1. Chapter 6 explores objections to this ¬rst criterion.
2. This section has been adapted from my paper “The Kantian Moral Worth
of Actions Contrary to Duty,” Zeitschrift f¨ r Philosophische Forschung 53 (1999):
u
45“66.
3. This interpretation is not wholly unproblematic. In the Preface to the Ground-
work, Kant remarks that moral laws require “a power of judgment sharpened by
experience, partly in order to distinguish in which cases they are applicable and
partly to provide them with access to the will of the human being and ef¬cacy
for his ful¬llment of them” (GMS 389). The question is: according to Kant,
does everyone, that is, every rational agent, acquire this power of judgment in
the course of maturing? Of course, if Kant would answer af¬rmatively, then the
interpretation at hand is not really threatened by this remark.
4. Allison, for example, says: “Starting with the assumption, itself questionable,
that actions performed from duty cannot, objectively speaking, be contrary to
duty, he proposes to limit his consideration to actions that are at least in agree-
ment with duty (pflichtm¨ ßig).” See Henry E. Allison, Kant™s Theory of Freedom
a
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990), 109.
5. Curzer adopts this interpretation. See Howard Curzer, “From Duty, Moral Worth,
Good Will,” Dialogue 36 (1997): 290“291.
6. That Kant would hold this is not as obvious as it might at ¬rst appear. Kant
asserts that duties cannot con¬‚ict: if at the same time two moral rules prescribe
different actions, then it cannot be a duty to act in accordance with both. See
MS 224. But suppose that disagreeing with Kant on this score, an agent holds
that duties can con¬‚ict. Further suppose that here and now she believes that
she has con¬‚icting duties, a duty to keep a promise to meet a student and
a duty to take her mother-in-law to the airport. It seems that in performing
the latter action, she could both believe that she was acting contrary to duty
(i.e., her duty not to break her promises), yet be acting from duty. Moreover,
Kant might acknowledge this possibility, although he would insist that the agent
was mistaken in her belief that duties can con¬‚ict. I think it is clear that if
an agent believes along with Kant that duties cannot con¬‚ict, then she could
not, in doing something she believed to be contrary to duty, be acting from
duty.
7. It is striking that in a work where Kant is at pains to explore the concept of duty,
he mentions not one example of an action done from duty but which con¬‚icts
with duty.
8. At KpV 81, Kant says that moral worth “must be placed solely in this: that the
action takes place from duty, that is, for the sake of the law alone.”
Notes to pp. 100“101 209

9. At KpV 79, Kant says: “A maxim is . . . morally genuine only if it rests solely on
the interest one takes in compliance with the law.”
10. Here one might suggest the following. Supererogatory actions are not morally
required; they are optional in the sense of beyond what duty requires. Never-
theless, in performing one (e.g., by jumping on a live grenade to save one™s
comrades), one might put aside entirely the in¬‚uence of inclination. So there
are some actions that are neither morally required nor at all in¬‚uenced by in-
clination. In response, note ¬rst that Kant does not recognize the category of
supererogatory actions. For discussion of why, see Marcia W. Baron, Kantian
Ethics Almost without Apology (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1995), chap. 1.
Moreover, even if Kant did recognize this category, a supererogatory action
would not be done from duty in his sense. In an action from duty, an agent™s
will is determined by her representation of the law in itself (GMS 401). But in
a supererogatory action, her will is presumably not determined simply by her
representation of the law, since she is aiming “above and beyond” what the law
requires.
11. See GMS 402 for evidence that Kant recognizes this point.
12. For discussion of Kant™s notion of respect, see Allison, Kant™s Theory of Freedom,
120“128, and Ralph C. S. Walker, “Achtung in the Grundlegung,” in Grundlegung
zur Metaphysic der Sitten: Ein kooperativer Kommentar, ed. Otfried H¨ ffe (Frankfurt
o
am Main: Klostermann, 1989), 97“116.
13. See Barbara Herman, The Practice of Moral Judgment (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard
University Press, 1993), 13“17. See also Baron, Kantian Ethics Almost without
Apology, 129“130.
14. See Herman, Practice, 16.
15. It is striking that Herman does not cite a single case of Kant™s mentioning that
an agent performs a particular action from duty as a “limiting condition” or
“secondary motive.”
16. This point is made by H. J. Paton, The Categorical Imperative (New York: Harper
& Row, 1967), 47“50; Herman, Practice, 12; Allison, Kant™s Theory of Freedom,
110“111; and Baron, Kantian Ethics, 150. Both Allison and Baron note that Kant
implies early in his Groundwork I discussion of duty that an agent™s having an
inclination to do something does not in itself preclude him from doing it from
duty. Kant suggests that to determine whether an action is from duty is dif¬cult
in cases “when an action conforms with duty and the subject has, besides, an
immediate inclination to it” (GMS 397). But why, Allison and Baron rightly ask,
would he suggest this to be dif¬cult if he adopted the view that having an
immediate inclination to do something itself precluded one from doing it from
duty? If he adopted this view, then, it seems he would simply say that if one has
an immediate inclination to an action, then it is thereby impossible for him to
do it from duty. (I discuss Kant™s distinction between mediate and immediate
inclination in section 5.5.) For an opposing interpretation of Kant, see Noa
Latham, “Causally Irrelevant Reasons and Action Solely from the Motive of
Duty,” Journal of Philosophy 91 (1994): 599“618.
17. Of course, Kant does hold that it is impossible for me to be certain that I have
kept the promise from this motive. See GMS 407.
18. Allison puts the point in this way. See Allison, Kant™s Theory of Freedom, 111.
19. In addition to Baron, Kantian Ethics, 146“187, see, for example, Paul Benson,
“Moral Worth,” Philosophical Studies 51 (1987): 365“382; Paul Guyer, Kant on
Notes to pp. 103“115
210

Freedom, Law, and Happiness (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000),
287“303; Richard G. Henson, “What Kant Might Have Said: Moral Worth and
the Overdetermination of Dutiful Action,” Philosophical Review 88 (1979):
39“54; Tom Sorell, “Kant™s Good Will and Our Good Nature,” Kant-Studien
78 (1987): 87“101.
20. This paragraph has been in¬‚uenced by Henry Allison. See Allison, Kant™s Theory
of Freedom, 116“118.
21. Typically, Kant de¬nes happiness (roughly) as the complete satisfaction of all
inclinations over a lifetime “ thus seemingly not in purely hedonistic terms. See,
for example, KrV A 806/B 834; GMS 399, 405; KpV 73, 124; Rel 58 (English
ed. 51).
22. Here I am following Marcia Baron™s initial account of overdetermined actions.
See Kantian Ethics, 150. (She offers a more detailed account on 156“157). In con-
cluding that for Kant there can be no overdetermined actions done from duty
and from inclination, I am also following Baron. She writes: “Overdetermined
actions involving duty and inclination do not merely lack moral worth; they are
not intelligible” (161). However, the grounds Baron offers for this conclusion
differ signi¬cantly from the ones I have given (see Kantian Ethics, 156“161).
23. Kant implies this, for example, in his “second proposition”: “an action from duty
has its moral worth not in the purpose to be attained by it, but in the maxim in
accordance with which it is decided upon” (GMS 399; emphasis added, Kant™s
emphasis omitted).
24. I have been in¬‚uenced here by Guyer™s discussion of this Kantian notion. See
Paul Guyer, Kant and the Experience of Freedom (Cambridge: Cambridge University
Press, 1993), 344“351. See also Guyer, Kant on Freedom, Law, and Happiness,
107“117.
25. See also Rel 30“31 (English ed. 26): “For when incentives other than the law
itself (such as ambition, self-love in general, yes, even a kindly instinct such as
sympathy) are necessary to determine the will [Willk¨ r] to conduct conformable
u
to the law, it is merely accidental that these causes coincide with the law, for they
could equally well incite its violation.”
26. This example is based on one offered by Barbara Herman. See Herman, Practice,
4“5.
27. Here I am following ibid., 5“6.
28. See ibid., 5.
29. I offer some criticism of this argument in section 8.10.
30. Of course, Kant expresses this view not only in the Groundwork, but in the second
Critique as well. See, for example, KpV 20.
31. Kant seems to think that we must interpret this principle as a material one. But
I do not see why we must. See section 7.2.
32. Ultimately, I do not believe that Kant should rely on this argument. For reasons
I crystallize in section 8.2, I think Kant should abandon one of the argument™s
key premises, namely that ought implies can.


Chapter 6: Duty and Moral Worth
1. I do not wish to imply that Williams™s and Stocker™s criticisms are meant to
apply to Kantian morality exclusively. They both aim their criticisms at utilitarian
theories as well, just to name one additional target.
Notes to pp. 116“120 211

2. Both my understanding of this objection and my response to it have been heavily
in¬‚uenced by Baron™s work. See Marcia W. Baron, Kantian Ethics Almost without
Apology (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1995), 118“135.
3. Michael Stocker, “The Schizophrenia of Modern Ethical Theories,” Journal of
Philosophy 73 (1976): 462.
4. At MS 456, Kant states that we, human beings, have a duty to use our capacity
to have sympathetic feelings as a means to promote “active and rational benev-
olence.” Perhaps the person Kant describes in the Groundwork is lacking in this
capacity. Kant suggests that “nature had put little sympathy” in his heart (GMS
398).
5. Oakley appears to defend this position. See Justin Oakley, Morality and the
Emotions (New York: Routledge, 1992), 57“63, 83.
6. See Bernard Williams, Moral Luck: Philosophical Papers, 1973“1980, (Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 1981), 18. Williams discusses a case put forth by
Charles Fried. The case I discuss is inspired by, but differs from, the one Williams
discusses.
7. I have been in¬‚uenced in my thinking regarding cases of this kind by Baron,
Kantian Ethics, 136“140; Paul Guyer, Kant and the Experience of Freedom
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993), 392“393; and Barbara
Herman, The Practice of Moral Judgment (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University
Press, 1993), 41“42.
8. My treatment of this thesis (sections 6.5“9) mirrors my discussion in Samuel
Kerstein, “The Kantian Moral Worth of Actions Contrary to Duty,” Zeitschrift f¨ r u
Philosophische Forschung 53 (1999): 45“66.
9. Some commentators ignore (what I take to be) Kant™s Groundwork denial of
moral worth to all morally impermissible actions. See, for example,
H. J. Paton, The Categorical Imperative, 5th ed. (New York: Harper & Row, 1965),
46“50. Others take note of this denial but do not explore in any detail Kant™s
grounds for it or its plausibility. See, for example, Henry E. Allison, Kant™s
Theory of Freedom (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990), 109. Roger
Sullivan offers some helpful references to remarks Kant makes relating to the
sources of error in moral judgment. See Roger J. Sullivan, Immanuel Kant™s
Moral Theory (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989), 57“60. How-
ever, Sullivan does not directly address the issue I discuss here, namely that of
whether the logic of Kant™s own moral theory rationally compels him to
embrace the possibility that morally impermissible actions can have moral
worth.
10. Kant sums up what he takes to have accomplished in Groundwork I when he says:
“Thus, then, we have arrived, within the moral cognition of common human reason,
at its principle” (GMS 403, emphasis added).
11. By writing of an action™s (potentially) expressing good will rather than being
identical to it, I am implicitly invoking the “whole character” understanding of
a good will. The point at issue would not be altered if I instead invoked the
“particular action” understanding of a good will. For the distinction between
these two notions of a good will, see section 3.7.
12. Thomas Nagel focuses on this aspect of Kant™s doctrine in the Groundwork.
See Thomas Nagel, “Moral Luck,” in Mortal Questions (Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 1979), 24“25. See also Thomas E. Hill Jr., Respect, Pluralism,
and Justice (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), 159“160.
Notes to pp. 121“124
212

13. Recall Kant™s dualistic view of the ultimate grounds of human action. Either
we act from inclination, or we act from duty (section 1.6). Since he denies that
actions from duty can con¬‚ict with duty, Kant must hold that actions that con¬‚ict
with duty are done from inclination.
14. One might wonder whether, in Kant™s view, an agent™s failure to perform a
morally permissible action is always a failure of will. For it seems that when a
person is drunk, he can perform a morally impermissible action that does not
stem from a failure of will “ if only because he is so intoxicated that, at that
moment, he has no will to fail. In response, I think Kant would argue that the
drunk person™s morally impermissible actions really do stem ultimately from a
failure of will, namely a failure to suppress the inclination to drink in the ¬rst
place. In the Lectures on Ethics, Kant says: “everything is imputable that pertains
to freedom, even though it may not have arisen directly through freedom, but
indirectly nevertheless. E.g., what a person has done in a state of drunkenness
may well not be imputed; but he can be held accountable for having got drunk”
(LE 291).
15. Strictly speaking, Kant suggests that we use for moral appraisal “the universal
formula of the categorical imperative: act in accordance with a maxim that can at
the same time make itself a universal law” (GMS 436“437). In the example, Colonel
Mikavitch takes “the universal formula of the categorical imperative” to be a
version of the Formula of Universal Law. Wood has argued recently that it is
actually a version of the Formula of Autonomy; see Allen W. Wood, Kant™s Ethical
Thought (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 188“189.
16. Admittedly, Kant sometimes comes out against the permissibility of suicide in
any circumstances. For example, in the Lectures on Ethics he says: “There are
many conditions under which life has to be sacri¬ced; if I cannot preserve it
other than by violating the duties to myself, then I am bound to sacri¬ce it,
rather than violate these duties; yet on the other hand, suicide is not permitted
under any condition” (LE 372).
17. An orthodox Act Utilitarian would de¬ne the good as (something like) the
maximum happiness of all sentient beings. He would then conceive an action™s
moral value purely in terms of the degree to which it promotes the good thus
de¬ned. For the Act Utilitarian, if Stram™s action diminishes the general hap-
piness, then it has no moral value “ unless, perhaps, all of the actions open
to him would diminish the general happiness, but this action is the one that
would diminish it least. As an orthodox Act Utilitarian, Stram would himself
hold the moral value of his lying to the politician to be contingent on its effects.
Of course, we need not agree with Stram™s own take on when his actions have
moral worth. For a far more detailed discussion of utilitarianism and moral
worth, see sections 7.3“5.
18. Actually, there seems to be a third kind of case of an action™s being morally
impermissible, yet having moral worth. In this kind of case, an agent does
his best to adopt the correct moral principle but fails. He also does his best
to apply properly the principle he has adopted but fails at that as well. In
this kind of case, there is a failure both of principle choice and of principle
application.
19. For an interesting discussion of the Kantian conception of conscience, as well
as two other conceptions of it, see Hill, Respect, Pluralism, and Justice, 260“274.
Notes to pp. 126“128 213

20. In the Anthropology from a Pragmatic Point of View, one might argue, Kant ac-
cepts that a person who adopted a standard of moral judgment other than the
Categorical Imperative might perform morally impermissible actions, which
nonetheless had moral worth. Consider his discussion of “character” (Charakter).
In much the same language he uses in Groundwork I to describe a good will, he
tells us that character has intrinsic worth (inneren Wert) and is beyond all price.
A few sentences earlier, he says: “to have character relates to that property of
the will by which the subject has bound himself to certain practical principles
which he has unalterably prescribed for himself by his own reason. Although
these principles may sometimes indeed be false or defective, nevertheless the
formal element of the will as such, which is determined to act according to ¬rm
principles (not shifting hither and yon like a swarm of gnats), has something
precious and admirable to it, which is also something rare” (Anth 292). Here,
one might argue, Kant is advocating the idea that, even if a person has adopted
false or defective practical principles, she can have character. Since Kant believes
character to have intrinsic worth, he also holds that actions expressing character
have a special worth. Therefore, concludes the argument, Kant thinks that a
person could perform a morally impermissible action that had moral worth: an
action of obeying a self-given, yet false, principle because she believed obeying
it was the right thing to do. In response, note that Kant does not really em-
brace the idea that a person who has adopted false practical principles can have
character. Shortly after the cited passage, Kant says: “Character requires max-
ims, which proceed from reason and from ethicopractical principles” (Anth
293). Kant then lists principles that, he suggests, a person of character would
have to live by, including those of not speaking an untruth intentionally, not
dissembling, and not breaking one™s (legitimate) promise (Anth 294). These
are, of course, just the sort of principles that Kant believes to stem from the
Categorical Imperative. At the very least, if Kant believed someone living by
false principles could have character, among her false principles could be none
that prevented her from also embracing those on Kant™s list. In addition, Kant
suggests that a person of character would act on principles that are valid (gelten)
for everybody (Anth 293). Kant would hardly claim that false principles would
be valid for everybody! Despite initial appearances, Kant is not suggesting in
the Anthropology that a person who lives by false principles can have character,
nor, by extension, that the person™s action on such principles can have moral
worth. He is praising the quality of sticking to one™s principles much in the same
way that, in Groundwork I, he acknowledges the value of self-control and calm
deliberation. These qualities, he says, are rightly held in high esteem, but they
have no absolute (i.e., moral) worth (see GMS 394).
21. Some of this disagreement is manifest in our discussion of the Formula of
Universal Law in Chapter 8. At any rate, Korsgaard discusses three ways of
interpreting the Formula of Universal Law, each one of which is found in
the literature: Christine M. Korsgaard, “Kant™s Formula of Universal Law,” in
Creating the Kingdom of Ends (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996),
77“105. For another way of reading this formulation, see Thomas W. Pogge,
“The Categorical Imperative,” in Kant™s “Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals”:
Critical Essays, ed. Paul Guyer (Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Little¬eld, 1998),
189“196.
Notes to pp. 129“141
214

22. At GMS 411, for example, Kant says: “From what has been said it is clear that
all moral concepts have their seat and origin completely a priori in reason, and
indeed in the most common human reason just as in reason that is speculative
in the highest degree.”
23. Kant, of course, holds that it is only by virtue of having its source in reason alone
that the Categorical Imperative could be valid.
24. Michael Slote has suggested this sort of objection, using the example of a con-
scientious Nazi prison guard. See Michael Slote, Goods and Virtues (Oxford:
Oxford University Press, 1983), 63. See also Jonathan Bennett, “The Conscience
of Huckleberry Finn,” Philosophy 49 (1974): 123“143.
25. Hannah Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem (New York: Penguin, 1994), 135“137.
26. As Thomas Pogge has suggested to me, one wonders how, in Kant™s view, an
inquisitor can be sure that it is right to spare a defendant who, in the inquisitor™s
view, has violated divine doctrine.
27. Kant himself holds that “it is a basic moral principle, which requires no proof,
that one ought to hazard nothing that may be wrong” (Rel 185, English ed.
173). Hazarding nothing that may be wrong involves being sure that what one
proposes to do is right. For Kant goes on to say that “concerning the act which
I propose to perform I must be sure that it is not wrong; and this requirement is
a postulate of conscience” (Rel 186, English ed. 174). I think it is questionable
whether Kant has highlighted here a basic moral principle that requires no
proof. Why doesn™t it require any proof ? Also, one might wonder what relation
Kant takes to hold between this principle and the Categorical Imperative. Does
the Formula of Universal Law (or perhaps the Formula of Humanity) entail this
principle? How, precisely, does it do so?
28. See Lawrence Blum, Friendship, Altruism and Morality (London: Routledge and
Kegan Paul, 1980), 12“15. For an account of emotions in general that is in the
spirit of Blum™s account of sympathy, see Oakley, Morality and the Emotions, 7“16.
29. This discussion has been in¬‚uenced by Barbara Herman™s distinction between
the motive of an action and its object. See Herman, Practice, 25.
30. Oakley, Morality and the Emotions, 83“84.
31. See Michael Slote, Morals from Motives (New York: Oxford University Press,
2001), 51“58.
32. See Oakley, Morality and the Emotions, 101“102.
33. A defender of the notion that all actions from sympathy have moral value might
argue that a soldier who displayed such a lack of sympathy toward ethnic mi-

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