Immanuel Kant (1724-1804): Faith and Morality



Moral Theory:
Primacy of

1.       Nothing can be conceived in  the world, or even out of it which can be called good, without qualification, except  a good will. (70) 

2.       A good will is good not because of what it performs or effects, not by its aptness for the attainment of some proposed end, but simply by virtue of the volition, that is, it is good in itself, and considered by itself is to be esteemed much higher than all that can be brought about by it in favour of any inclination, nay, even the sum-total of all inclinations. (71)

3.       Act only according to that maxim by which you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law.

Good Will & Duty as  Conformity 
to Law in

1.       [O]ur existence has a far nobler end [than happiness] for which ... reason is properly intended ... [cultivation of a] will not merely good as a means to something else but good in itself. (71 )


2.       Duty is the necessity of acting from respect. for the law. {72)

3.       It is only what is connected with my will as a principle, by no means as an effect -- what does not subserve my inclination, but overpowers it, or at least in case of choice excludes it from its calculation -- in other words, simply the law of itself, which can be an object of respect, and hence a command. (72-73)

4.       Now an action done from duty must wholly exclude the influence of inclination, and with it every object of the will, so that nothing remains which can determine the will except objectively the law, and subjectively respect for this practical law, and consequently the maxim that I should follow this law even, to the thwarting of all my inclinations. (73 )

5.       The preeminent good which we call moral can therefore consist in nothing else than the conception of law in itself, which certainly is only possible in a rational being, in so far as this conception, and not the expected effect, determines the will. (73)

6.       The notion of happiness is so indefinite that although every man wishes to attain it, yet he can never say definitely and consistently what he really wishes and wills. (74)

7.       [T]he imperatives of prudence do not, strictly speaking, command at all, that is, they cannot present actions objectively as practically necessary; . . . they are rather to be regarded as counsels . . . than precepts . . . of reason. {74)

8.       [Having] deprived the will of every impulse which could arise to it from obedience to any [particular] law, there remains nothing [as a basis for morality] but the universal conformity of [the will's] actions to law in general, which alone can serve as a principle, i. e., I am never to act otherwise than so that I could also will that my maxim should become universal law. (75 )

Good Will & Duty as Respect for Autonomy

1.       So act as to treat humanity whether in thine own person or that of any other, in every case as an end . . . never as a means only. (78-79) 


2.       Man and generally any rational being exists as an end in himself, not merely as a means to be arbitrarily used by this or that will, but in all his actions whether they concern himself or other rational beings, must be always regarded at the same time as an end. (79)

3.       Rational beings . . . are called persons, because their nature points them out as ends in themselves. (79)

4.       Reason then refers every maxim of the will, regarding it as legislating universally, to every other will and also to every action towards oneself; and this not on account of
any other practical motive or any future advantage, but  from the idea of the dignity of a rational being, obeying no law but that which he himself also gives. (81)

5.       Autonomy then is the basis of the dignity of human and of every rational nature. (81 )

6.       Autonomy of the will is that property of it by which it is a law to itself (independently of any property of the objects of volition). (82) \

7.       Supposing that there were something whose existence has in itself an absolute worth, something which, being an end in itself, could be a source of definite laws, then in this and this alone would lie the source of a possible categorical imperative. (83)

Free Will

1.       [W]e ought to conform ... consequently we must be able to do so. (84n6)

2.       Now as time past is no longer in my power, hence every action that I perform must be a necessary result of certain determining grounds which are not in my power, that is, at the moment in which I am acting I am never free. (85)

3.       Consequently, if we would save [freedom], no other way remains but to consider that the existence of a thing, so far as it is determinable in time, and therefore its causality, according to the law of physical necessity, belong to appearance, and to attribute, freedom to the same being as a thing in itself. (85)

4.       "[T]he very same subject being on the other side conscious of himself as a thing in himself, considers his existence also in so far as it is not subject to time-conditions, and regards himself as only determinable by laws which he gives to himself through reason." (86)


1.       [I]t is morally necessary to assume the existence of God. (92)



2.       The possibility of ... the summum bonum, viz. Happiness proportioned to that morality ... must lead to the supposition of the existence of a cause adequate to this effect; in other words, it must postulate the existence of God, as the necessary condition of the possibility of the summum bonum (an object of the will which is necessarily connected with the moral legislation of pure reason.) (91 )

3.       The summum bonum is possible in the world only on the supposition of a Supreme Being having a causality corresponding to moral character. (91)

4.       The summum bonum, then, is only possible on the supposition of the immortality of the soul; consequently, this immortality, being inseparably connected with the moral law, is a postulate of pure practical reason .... (92)


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