Tải bản đầy đủ - 0 (trang)
§2. The First Three of Six Conceptions of the Good

§2. The First Three of Six Conceptions of the Good

Tải bản đầy đủ - 0trang

          

distinction parallels the one made earlier between the categorical imperative

as including all the relevant criteria of pure practical reason and the totality

of particular categorical imperatives (generalized precepts at step []) that

pass the test of the CI-procedure.

. The second conception of the good is of the fulfillment of what I

have called “true human needs.” I believe (as I said in Kant II) that at the

fourth step of the CI-procedure, we require some such idea to give content

to the will of the agent viewed as reasonable and rational. Otherwise the

agent going through the procedure cannot compare the adjusted social

worlds paired with different maxims. It should be said that some other

conception than that of true human needs may serve as well, or indeed

better. The point is that some amendment to Kant’s view seems to be


At first we might think that the comparison of adjusted social worlds can

be made on the basis of the agent’s conception of happiness. But even if the

agent knows what this conception is, there is still a serious difficulty, since

Kant supposes different agents to have different conceptions of their happiness. On his view, happiness is an ideal not of reason but of the imagination

(Gr II: [–]), and so our conception of happiness depends on the

contingencies of our life and on the particular modes of thought and feeling

we have developed as we come of age. Thus, if conceptions of happiness

are used in judging social worlds at step (), then whether a maxim passes

the CI-procedure would depend on the particular person who applies it.

Now, such dependence is likely to threaten Kant’s view. For if our following the CI-procedure doesn’t lead to at least a rough agreement as to

which maxims pass when we apply the procedure intelligently and conscientiously against the background of the same information, then the moral

law lacks objective content, where objective content is to be understood

as follows. Recall that a maxim that is rational for a single agent is valid

for that subject (agent), and so subjectively valid; whereas a moral precept

(at step []) that passes the CI-procedure is valid for all reasonable and rational agents, and so is objectively valid. Thus to say that the moral law has

objective content is simply to say that it has a content specified by moral

precepts that are roughly the same for all reasonable and rational (and sincere) agents, and publicly recognizable (though perhaps not now recognized) as founded on sufficient reasons.

[  ]

   

Observe that this second conception of the good based on true human

needs is a special conception designed expressly to be used at step ()

of the CI-procedure. It is formulated to meet a need of reason,1 namely,

the need for the moral law to have sufficient objective content. Note that

this conception, as opposed to the first, is restricted: that is, it is framed

in view of the restrictions on information to which agents are subject

at step ().

. The third conception of the good is the good as the fulfillment in

everyday life of (what Kant calls) permissible ends (MdS :), that is, ends

that respect the limits of the moral law. As we saw in Kant III, it is these

ends alone that specify the happiness of others that we are to further by

the duties of virtue. Thus we are to revise, abandon, or repress desires and

inclinations that prompt us to rational and sincere maxims at step () that

are rejected by the CI-procedure. We must not balance the strength and

importance to us of our natural desires against the strength and importance

to us of the pure practical interest we take in acting from the moral law

(for this interest, see Gr II:n. []). The priority of right excludes such

balancing entirely, as we discuss further below.

Whenever our maxim is rejected, then, we must reconsider our intended course of action, for in this case the claim to satisfy the desires in

question is rejected. At this point, the contrast with a teleological moral

doctrine such as utilitarianism is clear, since for Kant the conception of

permissible ends presupposes that the moral law and the principles of pure

practical reason are already in place. On the other hand, classical utilitarianism starts with a conception of the good—as pleasure, or as happiness, or

as the satisfaction of desire, preferences, or interests; and it may also impose

the condition that these desires, preferences, or interests be rational. (Desires, preferences, and interests are not the same, but I won’t go into this.)

The point is that in a teleological doctrine, a conception of the good is

given prior to and independently of the right (or the moral law); thus, for

example, utilitarianism defines the right as maximizing the good (say, as

happiness or the satisfaction of rational preferences), and moral worth of

1. Kant refers to the idea of a need of reason at KP :f., f., –, and at n. and n.

See also “Orientation in Thought,” :–, in Political Writings, trans. H. B. Nisbet (Cambridge:

Cambridge University Press, ), pp. –. We come back to this idea later.

[  ]

          

character as having, say, a character that can be relied on to lead us to do

what is right.2

By contrast, in Kant’s view, unrestricted rationality, or the rational, is

framed by, and absolutely subordinated to, a procedure that incorporates

the constraints of the CI-procedure, or what I shall call “the reasonable.”

It is by this procedure that admissible conceptions of the good and their

permissible ends are specified.

§. The Second Three Conceptions of the Good

. The first of the three remaining conceptions of the good is the conception

of the good will. This is Kant’s conception of moral worth: a fully good

will is the supreme (although not the complete) good of persons and

of their characters as reasonable and rational. This good consists in a

firm and settled highest-order desire, or to use Kant’s term, pure practical

interest, which leads us to take an interest in acting from duty (Gr II:n.


Here we can make a distinction: we have true purity of will when we

can always act as duty requires from pure practical interest, however

strongly doing our duty may be opposed by our natural desires and inclinations (KP :f., f.). In this case, pure practical interest is always strong

enough by itself to ensure that we act from (not merely in accordance with)

the demands of duty even in extreme situations—for example, when we

are threatened with death by the sovereign if we do not make false charges

against an honest man. We have a good will when we strive to the best

of our ability to become someone with a pure will, that is, someone who

can always act, whenever it is a matter of duty, from pure practical interest.

We may have a good will, so defined, although we have not yet attained

a pure will.3

Kant holds, then, that other interests and inclinations, when they also

2. Here there are many possibilities, such as Sidgwick’s account (Methods of Ethics, Bk. III, Ch.

) of moral worth as specified by the marginal utility of the practice of praising and blaming certain

traits of character.

3. See also “Theory and Practice, Pt. I,” :f. (Nisbet:f.).

[  ]

   

move us to do what duty requires, do not detract from the moral worth

of our action or from the purity of our character as long as two conditions

are met. They are:

(i) that when a question of duty is involved, we decide the case entirely

by considerations of duty, leaving aside all reasons of interest and inclination;

(ii) that our pure practical interest in acting from the considerations of

duty is strong enough by itself to ensure that we do as we ought. It is only

when our pure practical interest is not strong enough to ensure this, and

those other motives are needed for us to act properly, that our will, or

moral character, is less than fully good.

In this connection, Kant notes that we may need the support of what

he calls free sympathy in acting from moral principles (MdS :). While

having this free sympathy is of course not a defect—it is rather to be cultivated by us—our needing it to act rightly shows a lack of purity in our

character, which is a defect. One reason is that the feeling of free sympathy

cannot always be counted on to support our doing as we should; so whether

we conduct ourselves as we ought depends at least to some degree on

happenstance. This shows that we have not yet fully achieved the freedom

that is possible for us.

From Kant I:§, recall the two roles of the concept of a good will in

Kant’s doctrine: first, as an absolute and incomparable value the realization

of which gives meaning to human life and makes humankind the final end

of creation (KU § and the footnote); and second, as a value such that our

having the powers of reason and moral sensibility to realize a good will is

the condition of being a member of a possible realm of ends and marks

the range of application of the moral law.

. The next conception of the good is the good as the object of the

moral law, which I take to be given by the ideal of a realm of ends, as this

ideal was discussed in Kant IV. This ideal object is simply the conception of

the social world that would come about (at least under reasonably favorable

conditions) if everyone were to follow the totality of precepts that result

from the correct application of the CI-procedure.

As noted previously, Kant sometimes refers to the realm of ends as the

necessary object of a will that is determined by the moral law, or alternatively, as an object that is given a priori to a will determined by that law

[  ]

          

(KP :). By this I take him to mean that the realm of ends is an (ideal)

object—a social world—the moral constitution and regulation of which is

specified by the totality of precepts that meet the test of the CI-procedure

(when these precepts are adjusted and coordinated by the requirement of

complete determination; Gr II: [–]).

Put another way, the ideal of a realm of ends is not a social world

that can be described prior to and independently of the concepts and principles of pure practical reason and the procedure by which they are applied.

That realm is not an already given describable (ideal) object—a social

world—the nature of which determines the content of the moral law. This

would be the case, for example, if this law were understood as stating what

must be done in order to bring about a good society the nature and institutions of which are already specified prior to and independently of the moral


. Finally, there is Kant’s conception of the complete good. This is the

good attained when the ideal of a realm of ends is realized and each member

both has a good will and has achieved happiness, so far as the conditions

of human life allow. We must add this qualification, since the ideal of a

realm of ends is an ideal of reason, and as such cannot be fully realized.

Also, happiness must be specified by the fulfillment of ends that respect the

requirements of the moral law and so are permissible ends. I assume that

it is reasonable to try to approach this complete good (so understood) in

the natural world, at least under reasonably favorable conditions. In doing

this, we are not being visionaries who lack a sense of realism, of what is

in fact possible. A realm of ends is in that sense a natural good, one that

can be reasonably striven for (although never fully achieved) in the order

of nature.

Kant holds (as indicated above) that in the complete good, the good

will is the supreme good, that is, we must have a good will if the other

goods we enjoy are to be truly good and our enjoyment of them fully

appropriate. This applies in particular to the good of happiness, since he

thinks that only our having a good will can make us fully worthy of happiness. This is a recurrent theme in his doctrine. Kant also believes that

two goods so different in their nature, and in their foundations in our

persons, as a good will and happiness are incommensurable. In deciding

what to do, we are not to balance them against each other; they can be

[  ]

Tài liệu bạn tìm kiếm đã sẵn sàng tải về

§2. The First Three of Six Conceptions of the Good

Tải bản đầy đủ ngay(0 tr)