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Title: A Kantian theory of prudence and the dualism of practical reason
Author: Hills, A.
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2002
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In the first part of this thesis, I assume the background to Kant's theory of ethics and offer an interpretation of Kant's theory of practical reason to include a certain conception of prudential reasoning. K-prudential imperatives, based on the requirement of protecting one's own rational agency are shown to have all the features of categorical imperatives: they are not based on desire, they apply to all rational agents, and they are overriding. Anyone who accepts moral categorical imperatives ought also to accept K-prudential categorical imperatives. K-prudential imperatives are used to explain central parts of Kant's ethics, including duties to the self, based on the limits of what a rational agent can will. In the second part of the thesis, K-prudential imperatives are considered separately from the moral law, as derived from the formula of K-prudence "Act only on those maxims which you can rationally will". The formula of K-prudence is described, with particular emphasis on the requirement to protect one's rational agency, and is defended as part of the plausible theory of prudence. In the third part of the thesis, the consequences of recognizing that the K-prudential law is a rival theory of practical reason to the moral law are examined. The K-prudential law falls short of the moral law in important ways: there is no duty to help others and no duty not to lie, according to the K-prudential law. So, anyone wishing to show, as does Kant, that morality is based on laws of practical reason must show that the moral law and not the K-prudential law is the correct theory of practical reason. I have shown that the K-prudential law and the moral law make similar assumptions, and hence are justified by similar arguments. I conclude that a rational agent could accept either the moral law or the K-prudential law. There is a dualism of practical reason.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available