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Before and in the Groundwork, Kant argues as follows for the validity of the moral law: we want to be free. Following the moral law is the only way to be free. So we should follow the moral law.1 The first premise of this syllogism is treated differently before and in the Groundwork. First Kant thought it an empirical fact that men want to be free and want it more than anything else.2 Later he sought an a priori argument showing that we ought to want to be free and are right in thinking it good.3 The former justification of the moral law is superior. When we look to "salvage the normative core of Kantian moral philosophy" (Guyer 445), we should turn to it. - So far Paul Guyer. It is evident that Guyer fails to describe Kant's thought in the Groundwork. It is equally clear that Kant never held the position Guyer claims he held before the Groundwork. (The quotations Guyer gives in support of his claim show this.) Therefore I shall not discuss Guyer's interpretation of Kant. Instead I shall consider the philosophical merits of the position he ascribes to the pre-critical Kant, and which he recommends as superior. We shall see that that position makes no sense. This indirectly addresses the interpretive question, as it is a reason against ascribing it to Kant.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of Basel, Switzerland

Publication date: October 1, 2007

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