More from Kant's Groundwork

“Whenever an object of the will has to be laid down as the basis for prescribing the rule that determines the will, there the rule is none other than heteronomy; the imperative is conditional, namely: if or because one wills this object, one ought to act in such or such a way; hence it can never command morally, that is, categorically.” (G 444)

The will’s principle to serve as a ‘compass’: common human reason “knows very well how to distinguish in every case that comes up what is good and what is evil, what is in conformity with duty or contrary to duty, if, without in the least teaching it anything new, we only, as did Socrates, make it attentive to its own principle (note – a reference to ‘recollection’); and that there is, accordingly, no need of science and philosophy to know what one has to do in order to be honest and good, and even wise and virtuous.” (G 404)

"From love of humankind I am willing to admit that even most of our actions are in conformity with duty; but if we look more closely at the intentions and aspirations in them we everywhere come upon the dear self, which is always turning up; and it is on this that their purpose is based, not on the strict command of duty, which would often require self-denial." (G 407)

Against virtue-ethics:
"Nor could one give worse advice to morality than by wanting to derive it from examples. For, every example...must itself first be appraised in accordance with principles of morality, as to whether it is also worthy to serve as an original example, that is as a model...Even the Holy One of the Gospel must first be compared with our ideal of moral perfection before he is cognized as such; even he says of himself: why do you call me good? none is good but God only (Matthew 19:17)." (G 408)

“If we now attend to ourselves in any transgression of a duty, we find that we do not really will that our maxim should become a universal law, since that is impossible for us, but that the opposite of our maxim should instead remain a universal law, only we take the liberty of making an exception to it for ourselves (or just for this once) to the advantage of our inclination.” (G 424)

“One cannot give too many or too frequent warnings against this laxity, or even mean cast of mind, which seeks its principle among empirical motives and laws; for, human reason in its weariness gladly rests on this pillow and in a dream of sweet illusions it substitutes for morality a bastard patched up from limbs of quite diverse ancestry, which looks like whatever one wants to see in it but not like virtue for him who has once seen virtue in her true form.” (G 426)
Written on March 23, 2009