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Publisher's Summary

Immanuel Kant's Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysics of Morals, first published in 1785, lays out Kant's essential philosophy and defines the concepts and arguments that would shape his later work.
Central to Kant's doctrine is the categorical imperative, which he defines as a mandate that human actions should always conform to a universal, unchanging standard of rational morality. Directly opposed to utilitarian philosophy, Kant's theories have been broadly influential since their publication and stand as a seminal contribution to ethical thought.
Although Kant expanded upon the ideas defined here in his later work, including the Critique of Pure Reason and the Metaphysics of Morals, it is in his Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysics of Morals that they are communicated in their most clear, concise form. This edition is the translation by Thomas Kingsmill Abbott.
Public Domain (P)2011 Tantor
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Customer Reviews

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By Darwin8u on 04-04-17

Categorical Imperatives for Everyone

“Act only according to that maxim by which you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law.”
― Immanuel Kant, Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals

Words & Phrases:

Freedom, Autonomy of the Will, Categorical Imperative, Intuitions of Sense, Morally Aught, Universal Laws, Pure Practical Reason, Pragmatic, Practical, Rational Beings, Universality, Moral Law, External Conditions, Happiness, Empirical Interests, Obligations, Reciprocal Conceptions, Heteronomy, Causality, Things In Themselves.


In some ways the Categorical Imperative appears like a philosophically formal and universally binding adaptation of the Golden Rule, **kind of**. When one sees how many different versions of the Golden Rule have appeared independently in space and time, perhaps Kant was onto something. Anyway, I enjoyed reading this if only because a lot of what I've studied in political philosophy and moral policy was either born out of Kant's thoughts or as a reaction to it. Rawls' Veil of ignorance seems to be a recent, direct descendent, as Kant's social contract was a child of Rousseau, Hobbes, and Locke.

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9 of 10 people found this review helpful

By James Bath on 01-14-13

A Pivotal Thinker in the History of Mind

Ever since my first read of Kant's "Critique of Pure Reason" I smile quietly inside myself with appreciation of the man's incredible genius. I feel the same way about this book, "Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysics of Morals." Anybody with a serious interest in philosophy should read and/or listen to works by Immanuel Kant. But don't expect kid gloves. His thinking is difficult until you start catching his drift -- then it is wonderfully fulfilling. I think most people's problem with Kant is that they don't have enough confidence in their own abilities to meet the challenge.

John Lee does an impeccable job in helping us to meet the challenge via his intelligent and wise narration of this book. (Please, John, add "Critique of Pure Reason" to your list of books to narrate).

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6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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By Welsh Mafia on 12-19-11

Imperative reading

I first read this more than thirty years ago whilst on a first year undergraduate course which included a module on European Philosophy - along with Aristotle, Kant was the thinker that most attracted me once I’d first experienced his work. This is a great introduction or primer to Immanuel Kant and includes the basis of all his works and the cornerstone on which his thinking was built. Stripping away to the first considerations of moral and ethical contemplation and then rebuilding one step at a time. Kant goes one step back from Socrates and takes two steps forward towards Marx and the 20th Century thinkers.
It needs a little careful work, but it is in total a very accessible and rewarding read - as well as personally enjoyable in stepping back in my reading history to a time when lots and lots of ideas were completely new and really exciting - a feeling that, thankfully, I’ve never lost.

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1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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