In this paper I argue that in Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals Kant suggests that while I can never know when I am acting from duty, I can know when I am not acting from duty. In this paper I neither reconcile Kant’s imperatives with his statement that we will never know if we are definitely acting on his maxims, nor do I mount an argument against his perfectionist ideal theory. Instead I propose a negative formulation of his perfectionist ideal theory that argues Kant implicitly suggests I can only know when I am not acting from duty. First, I describe how the conditions of moral worth which Kant outlines make it so that I can never definitely know if I am acting from duty. I then take these conditions and show that Kant indirectly suggests that I can, however, know when I am not acting from duty. Specifically I examine the conditions Kant places on moral actions viz. the relationship inclinations and duty have with the moral worth of an action. Next, I provide a non-exhaustive refutation of potential arguments against my negative formulation proposition. Finally I discuss the implications of my negative formulation proposition on Kant’s perfectionist ideal theory as a whole.
"Kant’s Implicit Suggestion of the Negative Formulation of Duty,"
International Journal of Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities: Vol. 5:
2, Article 15.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.cwu.edu/ijurca/vol5/iss2/15