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The Metaphysical Elements of Ethics by Immanuel Kant
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1780

THE METAPHYSICAL ELEMENTS OF ETHICS

by Immanuel Kant

translated by Thomas Kingsmill Abbott


PREFACE

If there exists on any subject a philosophy (that is, a system of
rational knowledge based on concepts), then there must also be for
this philosophy a system of pure rational concepts, independent of any
condition of intuition, in other words, a metaphysic. It may be
asked whether metaphysical elements are required also for every
practical philosophy, which is the doctrine of duties, and therefore
also for Ethics, in order to be able to present it as a true science
(systematically), not merely as an aggregate of separate doctrines
(fragmentarily). As regards pure jurisprudence, no one will question
this requirement; for it concerns only what is formal in the
elective will, which has to be limited in its external relations
according to laws of freedom; without regarding any end which is the
matter of this will. Here, therefore, deontology is a mere
scientific doctrine (doctrina scientiae). *



* One who is acquainted with practical philosophy is not,
therefore, a practical philosopher. The latter is he who makes the