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Hypothetical Imperative:

Principle or Conclusion of Practical Reasoning?

Lecture by Alexandra Newton, organized by the Department of Ethics, Social and Political Philosophy and the Department of the History of Philosophy

Among interpretations of Kant it has become commonplace to distinguish two forms of practical reasoning, corresponding to two different principles of practical inference: instrumental practical reasoning in accordance with the hypothetical imperative and moral practical reasoning in accordance with the categorical imperative.

In this paper I argue that contrary to this assumption, the hypothetical imperative is not a formal principle of practical reasoning, but can only be understood as the conclusion of reasoning from moral principles. Hypothetical imperatives are not wide-scope normative requirements, but narrow-scope requirements of reason: I ought to take the means to my end only under the condition that my end is good (all things considered).

Alexandra Newton

Alexandra Newton received her M.A. in Philosophy and German Literature at the Universität Tübingen in 2003 and a PhD in Philosophy from the University of Pittsburgh in 2010 (Dissertation: Kant on Logical Form). Since October 2010 she has been an ‘assistant’ (wissenschaftliche Assistentin) at the Universität Leipzig. From January 2014 she will be an assistant professor at the University of Illinois, Urbana/Champaign. Her research focuses on Kant’s logic and theoretical philosophy, and on related topics in his aesthetics and practical philosophy.

When & where?

Wednesday, 20 November 2013, 15.15 - 17.00
Room Omega, Faculty of Philosophy

Last modified:08 November 2013 3.05 p.m.