Study Questions for Chapter 20: Kantian Morality

by Dr. Jan Garrett

Last revised on October 18, 2009

1. What, according to LJ, was Kant actually doing when he developed his "pure rational" moral system? (415)

2. What model of the family tends to dominate the Western philosophical and Judaeo-Christian moral tradition? (415)

3. Apart from Strict Father family morality, what folk theories and metaphors provide the resources for Kantian ethics? (415)

Note the five Kantian doctrines that LJ will try to show Kant derived from elements in the cognitive unconscious of the Enlightenment. (416)

4. Onto what element of the SF model is Universal Reason mapped? What metaphor accounts for the universalization aspect of Kantian ethics? (417)

5. What is the metaphorical source of the notion that reason has moral authority in relation to the other faculties of the mind? What is the proper relation of reason to Will, Will to Passion? What elements of the SF family map onto will and passion? (417-18)

6. How do LJ explain Kant's claim that a moral person is self-legislating (i.e., gives precepts to herself)? What is it to be free, according to Kant? (418)

7. Why do LJ say that "this is the epitome of rationalism" in morality? (419)

8. What role does the Folk Theory of Essence play in Kantian moral thought? (419)

9. What does the Family of Man metaphor contribute to Kantian moral thought? (420)

10. In terms of Kant's metaphorical logic why must we obey universal moral laws? (421) What is the basis for the moral authority of universal reason? (422)

11. How did Kant understand his Judaeo-Christian moral tradition? How is Kant's ethics related to this tradition? What aspect of it does he abandon? How does he transform the notion of God's reason as authority and God's commandments as moral laws? The split of the self into soul and body? The strength of will to follow God's commandments? (423)

12. Why, given the metaphorical sources of his theory, was it important for Kant to insist that Reason as moral authority be "pure"? (424) Why did Kant define virtue as "moral strength of the will"? (425-26)

13. Does Kant regard the imagination in his moral writings as an ally of reason or something that must be dominated along with his passions? (427)

14. How does the emphasis on moral strength relate to self-reliance? (427)

15. How is the term end conceptualized by Kant? What complex metaphor familiar to us from the chapter on causation is he using? (427) What is the relation, for Kant, morality and these ends? How does Kant see moral obligations? How are evils conceived? What does the will need to follow moral laws? (428)

16. Why does Kant think reason must be free? (429)

17. According to the logic of the Folk Theory of Essence, what does it mean for something to exist "in itself"? In this tricky paragraph (p. 430 ¶2), LJ are attributing to Kant's notion of essence features that go back to Plato's Forms, e.g., the form F (e.g., the Beautiful itself) is itself an F (i.e., a beautiful thing), and therefore belongs to the class of objects whose essence is the F itself, i.e., it is its own essence. Since essence is understood as a cause of that of which it is an essence—in this case it seems to be a formal cause—we can say that essences are self-causing!

18. Given that the essence of moral ends is an end-in-itself, how does Kant get the conclusion that people are ends-in-themselves? (430 ¶6) What is it precisely that is self-causing in people? (430-31)

19. How is it possible to treat somebody else as an end-in-itself? (432) Explain.

20. Can a human being be used as a means without violating morality? Explain. (432)

21. What does Kant mean by being an "end-in-itself"? (433)

22. How does SF morality reinforce Kant's claim that being an end-in-itself is the basis of all dignity? (433) How can we now understand what Kant means when he speaks of the Kingdom of Ends? (433)

23. How does Kant explain what he takes to be duties to avoid immoderate eating and drinking and use of sexual attributes for purposes of pleasure detached from the end of natural procreation? (434)

24. To what extent do we have a duty to make the ends of others our own, according to Kant? (435) To what extent is self-fulfillment a moral goal for Kant? (436) What does this passage tell us about nurturance and self-nurturance in Kant?

25. Why do LJ reject the idea that Kant's categorical imperative is an expression of a Nurturant Parent morality? (437-38)

28. What three replies do LJ make to the (imagined) orthodox Kantian philosopher who challenges their account by saying "You've simply found a clever way to describe the morality that issues from Universal Reason and that holds for all rational beings"? (438-39)