Kant's Conception of Inner Value



Abstract: This article addresses a foundational issue in Kant's moral philosophy, the question of the relation of the Categorical Imperative to value. There is an important movement in current Kant scholarship that argues that there is a value underlying the Categorical Imperative. However, some scholars have raised doubts as to whether Kant has a conception of value that could ground the Categorical Imperative. In this paper I seek to add to these doubts by arguing, first, that value would have to be of a particular kind in order to be the foundation of Kant's moral philosophy. Second, I argue that Kant does not have such a conception of value, and that his arguments rule out that value could ground his moral philosophy. I then outline an alternative reading of how Kant uses ‘inner value’. My conclusion will be that Kant does not derive the Categorical Imperative from an underlying value. While some of his passages could also be read as if value were foundational for Kant, a close look at these passages and his arguments point away from this conclusion.