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Agency and Autonomy in Kant's Moral TheorySelected Essays$
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Andrews Reath

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780199288830

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2006

DOI: 10.1093/0199288836.001.0001

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The Categorical Imperative and Kant's Conception of Practical Rationality

The Categorical Imperative and Kant's Conception of Practical Rationality

(p.67) 3 The Categorical Imperative and Kant's Conception of Practical Rationality
Agency and Autonomy in Kant's Moral Theory

Andrews Reath (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter outlines an explanation of how Kant grounds morality in reason. It argues that all rational choice is guided by normative considerations (reasons with normative force for the agent). In moral choice, the reasons from which the agent acts are in fact sufficient to justify the action to anyone. Such a view underlies Kant's derivation of the Categorical Imperative, and offers the best understanding of the connection that he draws between moral principles and the nature of practical reason. The chapter offers a reconstruction of the derivation of the Formula of Universal Law in the first two sections of the Groundwork. Section II provides an overview of the argument of Groundwork, I, which explains how Kant thinks that the concept of morality implicit in ordinary thought leads to the Formula of Universal Law (FUL). Sections III through V explain, respectively, what leads Kant to undertake another derivation of the FUL in Groundwork, II — this time one that traces it to the nature of practical reason; his conception of practical reason; and how it is most fully expressed by the Categorical Imperative.

Keywords:   practical rationality, universal law, rational choice, Categorical Imperative, normative considerations

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