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Essays on Kant$
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Henry E. Allison

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199647033

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199647033.001.0001

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: The Singleness of the Categorical Imperative

: The Singleness of the Categorical Imperative

(p.124) Essay Eight: The Singleness of the Categorical Imperative
Essays on Kant

Henry E. Allison

Oxford University Press

This essay defends Kant's thesis that there is only a single categorical imperative. This needs a defense because in the Groundwork Kant presents a number of formulations of this imperative (the precise number itself being subject to dispute), which are not obviously equivalent. Its strategy is to show that these formulations result from Kant's attempt to provide a complete construction of the concept of the categorical imperative by linking them with various steps in a progressive account of rational agency. By the complete construction of the concept is understood an account of the necessary and sufficient conditions of the possibility of the categorical imperative. Kant's analysis of rational agency is termed progressive because each step, which is correlated with a distinct formula, adds a fresh dimension to the conception of such agency. The claim is that this makes it possible to view these formulas as extensionally but not intentionally equivalent.

Keywords:   categorical imperative, complete construction, extensional equivalence, formula, Groundwork, intensional equivalence, rational agency

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