Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals

by: Immanuel Kant

Suggested Essay Topics

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Do you agree with Kant's characterization of morality? Do you agree, for instance, that a moral action may be defined as an act undertaken for the sake of duty alone? Can you think of an alternative characterization that would be better than Kant's?

Kant repeatedly compares his analysis of morality with the views of ordinary people. He justifies his philosophy on the grounds that a clearer understanding of morals can strengthen our moral sense. What are the main similarities and differences between Kant's perspective and the perspective he attributes to ordinary people? Do you agree that engaging in moral philosophy in general or reading Kant's book in particular would help to strengthen the reader's moral sense?

Review Kant's distinction between "appearances" and "things in themselves." What implications does this distinction have for the concept of free will? What about other metaphysical concepts such as God and immortality?

What are the religious implications of Kant's argument in the Grounding? Would it be possible to agree with Kant and maintain a commitment to organized religion? If not, what advantages do organized religions have over Kant's perspective? What sort of religion would be consistent with Kant's analysis of morality?

One common criticism of Kant and other Enlightenment thinkers is that they assume that viewpoints are more homogeneous than they are. How might twenty- first-century awareness of diversity force us to change Kant's argument? Would his views make sense for a society with multiple cultures, religions, and value- systems?

Discuss Kant's "kingdom of ends." Do you agree that the "kingdom of ends" would be the model moral society? What features does this kingdom share with modern democratic societies?

Discuss Kant as a representative thinker of the Enlightenment. What qualities of his thought are typical of this intellectual period?

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