Short Paper Assignments for Lee's seminar on Kantian Ethics

Due Monday, September 2, 1996, 5 p.m.
Some people "find an inner pleasure in spreading joy around them and can rejoice in the satisfaction of others ..." (Grounding 1:398) Kant claims that beneficent actions done because of this have "no true moral worth" (Ibid.) Explain why. Critically discuss.
Due Monday, September 9, 1996, 5 p.m.
What does Kant mean by "respect?" (See especially the long footnote at 401.) Where does respect come from, according to Kant? What can we respect, according to Kant? Explain what Kant says about respect.
Due Monday, September 16, 1996, 5 p.m.
What, for Kant, is an imperative? Who is (and who isn't) bound by imperatives? What kinds of imperatives are there, according to Kant? Give examples (not just Kant's). Explain the differences among the types of imperatives. Critically discuss.
Due Monday, September 23, 1996, 5 p.m.
In section 2 of Grounding Kant distinguishes "perfect" and "imperfect" duties. Explain this distinction (giving examples of each). What other terms does Kant use at least roughly to mark off the same distinction (not the distinction between duties to self and duties to others)? Explain these terms and their appropriateness. Do these mark of the same distinction? Critically discuss.
Due Monday, September 30, 1996, 5 p.m.
Consider one of Kant's examples of the application of the first (main) formulation of the categorical imperative (421-423, but see also 402-403, as well as elsewhere in section 2) and explain how Kant shows that the duty follows from the application of the categorical imperative. Try to be as charitable (to Kant) in your interpretation as you can, but then critically discuss.
Due Monday, October 7, 1996, 5 p.m.
Kant seems to argue (G 428) that persons (and only persons) are ends in themselves. Explain this claim (i.e., what it means) and explain Kant's argument for it. Critically discuss.
Due Monday, October 14, 1996, 5 p.m.
Do either (a) or (b):
(a) Consider some action (or maxim) not discussed by Kant (at least in his four examples) and explain what Kant's theory would say it (in terms of whether it is morally right or not), taking into account both of the first two formulations of the categorical imperative. Does Kant's theory give what you feel to be the right answer about that action? Critically discuss.
(b) Explain in detail everything that Kant says in the longish footnote to G430 (at the end of the second example).
Due Monday, October 21, 1996, 5 p.m.
At G 4636-439 Kant argues that "The aforementioned three ways of representing the principle of morality are at bottom only so many formulas of the very same law . . ." and in particular that "The principle: So act in regard to every rational being (yourself and others) that he may at the same time count in your maxim as an ened in himself, is thus basically the same as the principle: Act on a maxim which at the same time contains in itself its own universal validity for every rational being." Explain as clearly as you can Kant's argument for this claim.
Due Monday, October 28, 1996, 5 p.m.
At G 443 Kant argues for a rejection of a theory of morality based on God's will. Carefully explicate and critique his argument.

And to prepare for Greg's talk, here's a section from the Critique of Practical Reason to read: Selection (or you can download the complete text of Kant's writings. See my links.

Due Monday, November 4, 1996, 5 p.m.
Offer a critical discussion (i.e. one addressing, but not simply repeating or summarizing) of Greg Klebanoff's presentation of 10/29/96.
Due Monday, November 11, 1996, 5 p.m.
At Metaphysics of Morals 224 Kant discusses "conflict of duties." Carefully explain what he says in that paragraph. Work through an example or two of an apparent conflict of duties, explaining what Kant might say about it (based particularly on this paragraph). Finally, is Kant's view about this a good one? Criticially discuss.

Richard Lee,, last modified: 29 July 1999