Immanuel Kant's Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysics of Morals: Preface and First Section

Read the Preface and First Section of Kant's 1785 text about morality. Try to answer the following questions in your own words:

    • What does Kant say is the only thing good without qualification?
    • What types of actions does Kant reject as examples of pure duty?
    • What are the three propositions of morality?

What Kant argues here is that the only absolutely good thing in the world is good will, or the human desire to act morally, and that this desire is only possible for us because we are rational beings. According to Kant, we have an absolute duty to act on the basis of the moral principles that stem from our rationality. This is, in fact, what separates us from animals, and is why Kant so opposes the utilitarian view, which seems to make human beings slaves of their desire for pleasure and aversion to pain.