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The derivation of the formula of universal law in the groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals

Grant number: 19/21992-8
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Master
Effective date (Start): March 01, 2020
Effective date (End): February 28, 2022
Field of knowledge:Humanities - Philosophy - Ethics
Principal Investigator:Monique Hulshof
Grantee:Vinicius Pinto de Carvalho
Home Institution: Instituto de Filosofia e Ciências Humanas (IFCH). Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP). Campinas , SP, Brazil


In the Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, Kant tries to identify the supreme principle of morality. The aim of this research is to analyze the arguments from the first and second sections, known in the literature as the derivations, which identify the so-called Formula of Universal Law (FUL)- "act only according to that maxim through which you can at the same time will that it become a universal law"-as such principle. These arguments are charged with the "derivation gap": according to many interpreters (Aune 1979; Allison 1991; Wood 1999), there is an argumentative gap in the derivations, for Kant would have concluded the FUL after considering it equivalent to the principle that one should always conform one's maxims to universal law. Nonetheless, it is argued, these principles differ significantly, since they confer different results to the morality of a same maxim. Thus Kant would not have adequately justified the FUL as the supreme principle of morality. In our research, we intent to carefully analyze the derivation of the FUL in the first section (at GMS 402) and the second section (at GMS 421), and the problem to them attributed. With an account of the notion of autonomy, introduced (even if tacitly) in the first section and completely spelled out in the second, we will investigate the possibility of answering the derivation gap, considering whether the autonomous character of moral laws would fill the argumentative gap identified in the literature, as it would render the two principles equivalent. (AU)