Groundwork Section I (Kant)

Right away, Kant gives me the impression that he thinks there is good and bad in every situation. Certain “good” things can seem more or less good depending on the circumstance. In other words, goodness is flexible. He also describes “good will” as something different than Metz from the previous reading. Kant describes it as good in itself. Good will is not something external, it is internal and is centered around one’s values. Basically, I think Kant is saying that we need to look at our values and do what we think is right in a situation based on these beliefs.

Okay here is a short sidebar: from what I already know about Kant (not much), I know he talks about treating others as ends and not mere means. I think this relates to his definition of good will because with the help of your values and use of your good will, you should know to to the right thing in situations, meaning to not be rude or treat others as means.

Going on with the reading, Kant also discusses reasoning and the importance of good will when it comes to reason. We need to use our reasoning to support our will/to make it good. Kant also writes about the importance of duty here, claiming three distinctions of moral worth: 1) acting in accord with duty (doing the right thing), 2) acting from duty (doing something because it is right), and 3) moral worth (having to do with virtues).

Finally, Kant introduces maxims in this section. A maxim is a suggestive principle or action that one uses when facing any kind of moral question or situation. Kant wants us to find a maxim’s intention and he want us to find a reason why we are using this particular maxim. Kant wants the maxim to be a universal law, and if it is not lawful, then the maxim needs to be rejected.


Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store