The ideas contained in this paper originated in a Spring 2000 graduate seminar on the Groundwork at Florida State University. I would like to thank all the seminar participants for their probing questions and useful contributions. This paper would not have reached its present form without the indispensable advice, criticisms, and constructive suggestions offered by David Brink, Barbara Herman, Pat Matthews, A1 Mele, Dana Nelkin, Eric Watkins, and a referee for Philosophy and Plrenonzenological Research.
From the Good Will to the Formula of Universal Law1
Article first published online: 29 MAY 2007
Philosophy and Phenomenological Research
Volume 68, Issue 3, pages 554–577, May 2004
How to Cite
RICKLESS, S. C. (2004), From the Good Will to the Formula of Universal Law. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 68: 554–577. doi: 10.1111/j.1933-1592.2004.tb00366.x
- Issue published online: 29 MAY 2007
- Article first published online: 29 MAY 2007
In the First Section of the Groundwork, Kant argues that a good-willed person “under subjective limitations and hindrances” is required “never to act except in such a way that [she] could also will that [her] maxim should become a universal law.” Call this argument “K”. Although recent commentators (including Barbara Herman, Christine Korsgaard, Nelson Potter, and Allen Wood) have done much to clarify and defend many of the important claims Kant makes in the First Section, they have accurately identified neither K's premises nor the reasoning by means of which K's conclusion is derived. The result of this is that K's strengths are underappreciated. My aim is to rectify this state of affairs, by providing a detailed reconstruction of K, and thereby bring out the various ways in which the argument deserves our recognition and praise.