Book Report on Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysic of Morals by Kant
Kant states (38,) "act as if the maxim of thy action were to become by thy will a universal law of nature". This "categorical imperative" forms the basis of his book, Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysics of Morals. Though at times his writing is confusing Kant lays out his logic as to what a categorical imperative is. Kant divides the book into three sections. The first explains the transition from everyday moral beliefs to the philosophy of those morals. The transition from popular moral philosophy to the metaphysics of morals is explained in Section II. Kant ends the book explaining how the metaphysics of morals is seen in everyday moral beliefs. In essence he forms a circle of reason, from common morals to philosophy, philosophy to metaphysics and metaphysics back to common morals.
In the Introduction Marvin Fox explains three things to pay attention to when reading The Metaphysics of Morals. First, the book is Kant's second major ethical work and to fully understand it you need to read The Critique of Pure Reason. Next, Metaphysics is not a guide for a complete moral philosophy; it provides the foundation for a moral philosophy. Third, Kant creates many of his own technical terms, which can be confusing.
Kant has two purposes in the Preface. First, he explains where the idea of morality fits into the three sciences, Physics, Ethics and Logic, of Greek philosophy. Morality the "laws by which everything out to happen"(Kant, 3) is the rational part of ethics. Kant is also careful to differentiate between rational and empirical laws. To Kant, morality can never be based on experience; it is always a priori. Morality exsisted before any event took place.
Kant, next, asks the question "Whether it is not of the utmost necessity to construct a pure moral philosophy" (5). Kant provides two reasons to study the metaphysics of morals. First, to understand a priori morals we must investigate their course. Second, morals may be corrupted if we fail to understand and estimate them correctly.
Section 1 begins with the idea that "the only thing absolutely good is a good will"(11). According to Kant acts of courage and perseverance can be negative if a dubious idea is driving them. Kant uses "Duty" as an example of good will but provides three qualifications....