Kant’s Groundwork (section II)

Camryn Gamble
2 min readFeb 21, 2021

The end of Section I was all about duty and the two options one has in regard to duty and the two options that one has when it comes to moral code: 1) acting in accordance of duty or 2) acting from duty. In this section of Groundwork, Kant expands on this a little and claims that it is kind of hard to tell the difference between the two (4:407).

Kant says that the laws of morality should not only be put unto humans, but all other types of rational beings as well (4:408). Humans are only one type of rational being and if only humans followed the laws of morality, the world would be a little chaotic. Kant says that only a rational being can act in accordance with laws (4:412). Also in 4:412, Kant discusses the importance of moral laws and following the rules around them. He states that “everything in nature works in according to laws”, meaning that we act the way we do because of these universal moral codes.

There are two types of imperatives (an ought): categorical and hypothetical. The hypothetical imperative is “the practical necessity of a possible action as a means to achieving something else that one wills” (4:414). The categorical imperative is “that which represented an action as objectively necessary of itself, without reference to another end” (4:414). Kant goes through a lot of examples of these imperatives in the next couple sections.

Kant discusses multiple forms of the Categorical Imperative and includes some more examples and cases here. Along with the Categorical Imperative, Kant brings up the principle of autonomy. This means that rational beings act in such a way that we acknowledge the lawfulness of a certain maxim. A rational being must always acknowledge the laws.

When it comes to ends, everything either has a dignity or a price. Kant goes on to explain the difference between the two and includes some examples as well.