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Kant's Groundwork for the Metaphysics of MoralsA Commentary$
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Henry E. Allison

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199691531

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199691531.001.0001

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Autonomy, Heteronomy, and Constructing the Categorical Imperative

Autonomy, Heteronomy, and Constructing the Categorical Imperative

(p.237) 9 Autonomy, Heteronomy, and Constructing the Categorical Imperative
Kant's Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals

Henry E. Allison

Oxford University Press

This chapter deals with the principle of autonomy, which is at once the third formula of the categorical imperative (FA), a property of the will, and the supreme principle of morality in the sense of being a condition of the possibility of a categorical imperative. Its central thesis is that this principle marks the completion of the construction of the concept of the categorical imperative, which is the central project of Groundwork 2. The basic idea is that such an imperative presupposes a universal law, which is provided by FLN, something of absolute value, which is provided by FH, and a source of unconditioned authority, which the principle of autonomy locates in the will. The chapter also discusses the controversial issue of the equivalence of these formulas and the contrast between autonomy and heteronomy as two possible sources of moral principles.

Keywords:   absolute value, autonomy, categorical imperative, construction, heteronomy, unconditioned authority, universal law, will

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