we end up with either multiple maxims to test (and the possibility of conflicting results) or a single “relevant” maxim... [universalisability] should not be viewed as testing the actual maxims on which agents might act in some specific context... [we] should be seen as working with “generic” maxims, which can apply to many different actions, and more than one of which may apply in a specific instance (Herman 1996, ch. 7).

So Kant does not prove "maxims on which agents might act... [because?] more than one... may apply in a specific instance"


So how do we obey the moral law? I may have misunderstood, in which case, given you can understand how, can you explain why?

  • 2
    This is known as the problem of relevant descriptions and it is already discussed in Is Kant's ethical theory adequate to the complexities of universalisation? and What are some examples of categorical imperatives/universalizable maxims relevant to modern ethics? Roughly, the Kantian answer is that one is supposed to act in good faith instead of shopping for self-serving maxims and redescriptions.
    – Conifold
    Commented Feb 8 at 18:51
  • ok so the question should be closed @Conifold ?
    – andrós
    Commented Feb 8 at 18:59
  • what do you mean by the phrase "in good faith", sinvcerely and without self deception @Conifold it's not quite the same question, not unless the answer to the relevat descriptor is whatever motivates us, which the link suggests is not a popular take
    – andrós
    Commented Feb 8 at 22:15
  • 1
    It reminds me of Jesus' answer when asked about all the behavioral laws and rules.
    – Scott Rowe
    Commented Feb 9 at 11:50
  • 1
    He said (abbreviated) 1. Love God. 2. Love your neighbor as yourself. And then said that it was all that is needed to fulfill the (spiritual) Law. So, it pivots on the in good faith precept. Inescapable.
    – Scott Rowe
    Commented Feb 9 at 13:14


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