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Philosophische Zeitschrift der Kant-Gesellschaft

Ed. by Baum, Manfred / Dörflinger, Bernd / Klemme, Heiner F.

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Volume 108, Issue 2


A Kantian Argument for the Formula of Humanity

Patricia Kitcher
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  • Columbia Univ., Dept. of Philosophy, 718 Philosophy Hall, 1150 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 100027, U.S.A.
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Published Online: 2017-06-15 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/kant-2017-0016


Although many take the formula of humanity to be Kant’s best formulation of the CI, there is no agreement on his argument for it. Kant says that the argument comes in GMM3, but that section is difficult to interpret. I draw on his remarks about cognizing other minds in the Paralogisms to interpret the argument of sub-section 2 of GMM3, the argument that rational beings must “lend” the idea of freedom to all rational beings. Kant later rejects his attempt to establish the CI in GMM3 and tries again in the fact of reason passages of the Second Critique. I follow Willaschek’s reading of these texts: Humans can cognize their freedom by performing a Gedankenexperiment where they experience their wills being moved through the moral law. Kant tries to move from that demonstration to the claim that pure reason gives the moral law to all humans, but his argument fails. Appealing again to his theory of other minds, I argue that he could have offered a cogent argument that all humans have an efficacious moral law within.

Keywords: Formula of humanity; Cognition of other minds; Fact of reason; Gedankenexperiment

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Published Online: 2017-06-15

Published in Print: 2017-06-27

Citation Information: Kant-Studien, Volume 108, Issue 2, Pages 218–246, ISSN (Online) 1613-1134, ISSN (Print) 0022-8877, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/kant-2017-0016.

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