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Criticizing Kant's Argument for Purposeful Reason

In the preface of Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals, Immanuel Kant declares that all moral philosophy rests entirely on its pure parts. With this premise, an acknowledgment that he is unconcerned with a teleological approach to morality, Kant tethers the moral philosophy he is about to erect. I will begin by outlining what Kant means when he states that moral philosophy is based in something pure by examining what the concept of purity signifies in terms of morality and why Kant argues on its behalf. From there I will briefly summarize the form of moral philosophy Kant believes will arise from this pure grounding, the categorical imperative. Through a critical examination of the role of reason and the concept of purpose in linking the realm of human experience and the pure metaphysics of morals, I will argue that Kant's moral philosophy lacks a motivator for human participation and is subsequently unlikely to be a practical philosophy.
For Kant, moral philosophy is a type of rational knowledge. Knowledge can be divided into two general categories: formal philosophy and material philosophy. The former is concerned with "universal rules of thought" or logic, while the latter pertains to objects and the laws governing them. Material philosophy can be further divided into laws of nature and laws of freedom which are called physics and ethics, respectively. These two branches of material philosophy are subject to a final division. Each may be either empirical, based on experience, or pure, "founded entirely on a priori principles". In the case of ethics the empirical branch is called anthropology while the pure is the metaphysics of morals. Kant's moral philosophy is based in metaphysics of morals, knowledge of the pure, and a priori laws of freedom that pertain to objects completely unmitigated by empirical concerns.
Moral philosophy according to Kant must be based on pure, a priori concepts entir…

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