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The universalizability of the categorial imperative [Elektronische Ressource] : re-examining Kant's Maxim of Duty / Researcher Krishna Mani Pathak

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THE UNIVERSALIZABILITY OF THE CATEGORICAL IMPERATIVE Re-examining Kant’s Maxim of Duty A Dissertation Submitted to the University of Heidelberg in Partial Fulfillment of the Degree of DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY (PhD) in PHILOSOPHY Researcher Krishna Mani Pathak Supervisor /First Reader Prof. Dr. Peter McLaughlin Second Reader Prof. Dr. Andreas Kemmerling Submitted to Philosophische Fakultät Reprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg Germany MAY 2010 THE UNIVERSALIZABILITY OF THE CATEGORICAL IMPERATIVE Re-examining Kant’s Maxim of Duty Krishna M. Pathak Krishna.Pathak@uni-heidelberg.de kmpathak@gmail.com Philosophisches Seminar Reprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg MAY 2010 TO My Late Grandmother And TABLE OF CONTENTS Abstract……………………………………………………….…….….…...i Preface……………………………………….……………...…………..ii-iii Acknowledgements…………….…………………...……...….…..……iv-vi Abbreviations………………………………………………...…...………vii CHAPTER 1: Introduction………………………………..……..…...1-10 1.1 Moral Universalism vs. Moral Relativism: The Problem 1 1.2 Immanuel Kant: A Devoted Son of Konigsberg 5 1.

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THE UNIVERSALIZABILITY OF THE CATEGORICAL
IMPERATIVE

Re-examining Kant’s Maxim of Duty


A Dissertation Submitted to the University of Heidelberg in Partial
Fulfillment of the Degree of DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY (PhD) in
PHILOSOPHY





Researcher
Krishna Mani Pathak


Supervisor /First Reader
Prof. Dr. Peter McLaughlin

Second Reader
Prof. Dr. Andreas Kemmerling


Submitted to
Philosophische Fakultät
Reprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg
Germany



MAY 2010
THE UNIVERSALIZABILITY OF THE CATEGORICAL IMPERATIVE

Re-examining Kant’s Maxim of Duty









Krishna M. Pathak
Krishna.Pathak@uni-heidelberg.de
kmpathak@gmail.com
Philosophisches Seminar
Reprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg











MAY 2010

















TO

My Late Grandmother

And



























TABLE OF CONTENTS



Abstract……………………………………………………….…….….…...i
Preface……………………………………….……………...…………..ii-iii
Acknowledgements…………….…………………...……...….…..……iv-vi
Abbreviations………………………………………………...…...………vii


CHAPTER 1: Introduction………………………………..……..…...1-10

1.1 Moral Universalism vs. Moral Relativism: The Problem 1
1.2 Immanuel Kant: A Devoted Son of Konigsberg 5
1.3 The Structure of the Dissertation 7


CHAPTER 2: Local Determinants and Moral Orientation: A Critique
of Moral Relativism………….…………………..…..11-51

2.1 Introduction 11
2.2 Alasdair MacIntyre 12
MacIntyre on Kant 13
MacIntyre’s Anti-universalizability Thesis 18
2.3 Charles Taylor 28
The Notion of Morality 29
I. The Concept of Modern Identity 29
II. Strong Evaluation 31
III. Self As an Interlocutor 34
What is wrong with Taylor’s notion of Morality? 37
Taylor’s SIM-theory As a Moral Web 41
2.4 Cultural Morality vs. Moral Culture 45
2.5 The Foundation of Moral Orientation–Reason or Tradition? 47
2.6 Summary 51


CHAPTER 3: Agent, Autonomy, and Reason: The Locus of Moral
Legitimacy…………………..……………………….52-85

3.1 Introduction 52
3.2 What is the Source of Moral Agency? 52
3.3 Kant on the Concept of Autonomy 54
The Role of Freedom 57
The Nature of an Autonomous Agent 60
3.4 Three Accounts of Personal Autonomy 64 The Hierarchical View 66
The Reason-responsive View 70
The Coherentist View 73
3.5 The Kantian Account of Personal Autonomy Re-examined 75
3.6 Local vs. Global Autonomy 78
3.7 The Problem of Moral Legitimacy 83
3.8 Summary 85


CHAPTER 4: The Doctrinaire Kant and his Moral Absolutism: From
Pure Philosophy to Impure Ethics…...…………...86-132

4.1 Introduction 86
4.2 The Human Mind: A Complex Unity 87
Speculative vs. Practical Reason 91
Understanding vs. Reason 95
4.3 Practical Reason and Freedom 98
4.4 Law (Gesetz) and Morality (Sittlichkeit) 102
The Concept of Law and Maxim 102
The Concept of Morality and Moral Law 109
4.5 The Source of the Categorical Imperative 120
Is God a Source? 124
Is Nature a Source? 124
Is Reason a Source? 125
Is the Categorical a Causal Relation? 126
4.6 Problems with Kant’s Moral Theory 130
4.7 Summary 132


CHAPTER 5: Duty: A Moral Vocation of the Rational Will…...133-152

5.1 Introduction 133
5.2 Three Proposals to Kantian Ethics 134
The Phenomenal World: The Only World of Morality 134
Pure and Practical: One Reason 136
The Categorical Imperative: A Moral Calling 138
5.3 An Interpretation of Duty As a Moral Calling 142
5.4 Human Universalism As a Postulate 147
5.5 Ethical Decision Making 150
5.6 Universal Attitude or Universal Moral Law? 151
5.7 Summary 152


CHAPTER 6: Why Kantianism? A Concluding Remark……....153-159
APPENDIX I: Nishkama Karma and the Categorical Imperative: A
Philosophical Reflection on the Bhagavad-Gita..161-177

I. Introduction 161
II. The Bhagavad-Gita: A Philosophic-religious Text 162
III. The Notion and Nature of dharma 163
IV. Svadharma and Nishkama karma 167
Svadharma (Realization of Self-nature) 167
Nishkama Karma (Duty without Desire) 169
V. Nishkama Karma and the Categorical Imperative: A Moral Path to
Perfection 174
VI. Summary 176


SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY…………………………………..178-187 AAAAbbbbssssttttrrrraaaacccctttt


In this dissertation, I defend Kantian ethics in terms of the universalizability of moral
duties as moral laws against relativistic ethics like traditionalism and communitarianism.
The problem I deal with, in special reference to Kant, is whether our actions are or
should be judged by local moral determinants like individuality, community, religion or
society, or by universal determinants of Kantian spirit. Those who follow local moral
determinants, criticize Kantian universalizability. But I consider universality to be a
strong moral determinant and therefore I defend it, and Kant.
My argument, which I develop comprehensively in this dissertation, is two-
fold: Firstly, local determinants are based on historicism and therefore limited in scope;
they leave room for partiality and discrimination among individuals. They are also
dually-standardized – one for the first person (I use the term agent) and another for the
second and third agents, all of whom differ from each other. Secondly, local
determinants considered to be moral criteria are challenging to justify: Their projection
of what a person is is not the only or real picture of a person as a moral agent. In other
words, local determinants don't affect––or their proponents like MacIntyre and Taylor
overlook––our deep sense of moral orientation, which deems every human being as the
same. Our deep sense of morality has a need for a common standard of morality.
With these arguments, I claim that the Kantian model of morality, in contrast,
presents a real picture of a person and his sense of morality, though it is quite hard to
find a person in the real world who acts in accordance with this moral sense. But our
failure in following our deep moral sense does not mean that morality is a matter of
individual choice or is merely locally-determined. The universal moral law is, after all,
supreme and something to be achieved in the realization of what we are as moral and
autonomous beings. The concept of local moral determinants is in fact weak in the sense
that one can justify a wrong and irresponsible action as a right action, whereas, universal
determinants prohibit us from following such a justification of a wrong action as right.
In brief, this dissertation aims to critically evaluate the two kinds of determinants and
their link to our practical life from a moral point of view. Another crucial dimension
does remain in the debate at hand––the epistemic dimension––but due to the specificity
of the project shall remain untouched in this dissertation.
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I am extremely pleased to submit my doctoral research work, in original, on the Kantian
moral theory of the categorical imperative. Much work has been done on this topic
throughout the academic world – some in favor of and some against it – spanning from
th
the early 19 century till the present. Those who favor Kant’s moral theory, favor it as
is. Those who are against it find it impractical or unacceptable. I have found no one
daring enough to modify Kantian moral theory, particularly the notion of the categorical
imperative, to make it workable for the phenomenal world. I do not know why. I can
only guess only one reason for this, i.e. perhaps most Kant scholars think that there is no
scope for change or modification to the theory and that if we make any change to it, it
will lose its soul.
However, I do not completely agree with this thought. I propose that there is scope
for change and modification to Kant’s account of the categorical imperative as the
supreme moral principle in terms of practicing rational capacity, and that without any
harm to its soul. For this reason, I dare to critically examine Kant’s moral theory. I
provide a number of proposals for the universalizability of the categorical imperative
based on the claim that if those proposals are accepted then Kantian moral theory will
be, practically speaking, more feasible and stronger. This dissertation is in fact a result
of my philosophical endeavor to understand, explain, and correct the role of human
reason in terms of the source of ethical decision making in Kant’s moral theory that I
began developing at an early stage of my post–graduate studies at the University of
Delhi (India). However, my understanding of Kant and his moral theory has been
greatly enriched during these last three years while working at the University of
Heidelberg.
The aim of this dissertation is not to take any particular philosophical position; rather
its aim is to comprehend and convey the essence of Kantian ethics from a different
perspective, namely by exploring rational capacity in everyday life. As a Kant scholar, I
defend moral universalism and that it is derived from human reason. Most of the
chapters of the dissertation attempt to either respond to objections against Kantian ethics
or to show why it is superior to any other theory, particularly to moral relativism.
iiMoreover, the dissertation offers insight useful in understanding Kant’s notion of duty
as moral laws in daily life.




21 May, 2010
Heidelberg K. M. P.
























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