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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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The Good Will

The Good Will

(p.70) (p.71) 3 The Good Will
Kant's Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals

Henry E. Allison

Oxford University Press

This chapter considers Kant’s claim that “It is not possible to think of anything in the world, or indeed out of it, that can be held to be good without limitation except a good will.” Kant maintained that this judgment is implicit in the common human understanding and he argued for it by excluding all other viable candidates, including “gifts of nature,” e.g., health and intelligence, “gifts of fortune,” e.g., wealth and happiness, on the grounds that they are not good without limitation, since there are circumstances when they would judged bad by the common human understanding. It is argued that by a good will Kant understood an agent’s underlying character rather than her state of mind in performing a particular action and in light of this it defends Kant’s claim against the standard objections.

Keywords:   gifts of fortune, gifts of nature, the good will, goodness without limitation, happiness

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