Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date

Spring 1991


The aim of this paper is to show that Kant's Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals has set a basic pattern of research for moral philosophy, a pattern established by the structure of the text, and one which implies an overarching thesis, 'the Groundwork is divided into three sections: (1) an analysis of ordinary moral judgments which identifies their formal rule, (2) the derivation of the supreme principle of morality, and (3) the presentation of a theory of reason which grounds the possibility of moral action. Kant seeks to explain the sense in which moral action may be said to manifest transcendental freedom: regardless of what may be the case in the world investigated by science, it is, Kant argues, both theoretically possible and practically necessary to affirm the idea of freedom.

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