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why did Kant say the only truly “good” thing in this world “without exception”?

if I understand him correctly, which I very well may not, I believe he states that good will is the only truly good thing in this world without exception because it is good in and of itself.

why would true love, not be good in and of itself? because it can be corrupted? can’t a good will be corrupted under the right set of circumstances??

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    If you define "true love" to mean complete devotion to another person, it's a form of "good will". So Kant's statement is really saying "good will or anything equivalent to good will" – barrycarter Mar 16 '18 at 17:08
  • then why would Kant list the known or common “goods” which can become corrupted (i.e. love, power, etc.)? Kant seems to me to be explicit in his view that there is no equivalency too, but rather only a good will, without exception is the only true good without exception that cannot be corrupted (“Metaphysics of Morality” Immanuel Kant). – user31089 Mar 19 '18 at 17:56
  • OK, then give an example of good will? I'd say true love is good will, but most love isn't true, and is therefore not good will and is corruptible. – barrycarter Mar 19 '18 at 19:30
  • @barrycarter “good without limitation” it is good regardless what external circumstance surrounding it may be...love, wealth, medicine under certain external circumstances, can be corrupted by the motives behind what’s driving them. Where as a good will, is good in and of itself, and any external motives for such do not impact outcome of a pure good will – user31089 Mar 19 '18 at 20:01
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The following explanation may help you to see why, at least in Kant's view, the Good Will is the only thing that could be considered good without limitation ( Samuel C. Rickless, 'From the Good Will to the Formula of Universal Law', Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, Vol. 68, No. 3 (May, 2004), pp. 554-577 [557] :

[It] is stated at the very outset (at G 393): "It is impossible to think of anything at all in the world, or indeed beyond it, that could be considered good without limitation except a good will". Potter restates [this] as follows: (Tl) A good will only [i.e., is the only thing that] has absolute worth. What allows Potter to use the phrase "absolute worth" to characterize a good will Kant himself describes as "good without limitation" at G 393 is the fact that Kant uses (the German equivalent of) such terms interchangeably throughout the Groundwork. At G 393-394, for instance, Kant characterizes "moderation in affects and passions, self-control, and calm reflection" as having no "unconditional worth" (unbedingten Werth) and equates this both with their failing to be "absolutely good" (schlechthin gut) and with their failing to be "good without limitation" (ohne Einschrdnkung fur gut). He also describes the good will as having "absolute worth" (absoluten Werthe) at G 394, strongly suggesting that he identifies the concepts of absolute goodness and absolute worth.

The fundamental idea here, as revealed in Kant's own illustrations of Tl at G393, is that anything other than the good will is conditionally good, in the sense that its goodness is conditional (depends) upon the goodness of something else, whereas the good will is itself unconditionally good, in the sense that its goodness is not conditional (does not depend) upon the goodness of anything else. Kant then relies on the reader's ability to recognize that the condition on which the goodness of something depends may reasonably be described as "limiting" that goodness and as something to which that goodness is relative, and hence not absolute. And this is why Kant describes the unconditionally good will as "good without limitation" and "absolutely good".

To probe a little further, note the following statements from the Groundwork :

A good will seems to constitute the indispensable condition even of the worthiness to be happy. (G 393)

[The good will] must still be the highest good and the condition of every other, even of all demands for happiness. (G 396)

[The concept of a good will] always takes first place in estimating the total worth of our actions and constitutes the condition of all the rest. (G 397)

Kant is making two claims here. The first claim is this:

(1) A good will is the condition of every other good.

I take (1) to mean that every good thing other than a good will depends for its goodness on its being associated with a good will. The second is a particular instance of the first, namely that a person's worthiness to be happy depends for its goodness on her having a good will. And this is not the only instance of (1) to which Kant draws our attention. In the first two paragraphs of the First Section, he tells us that talents of mind (such as understanding and judgment), qualities of temperament (such as courage and moderation), and other gifts of fortune (such as power, wealth, and health) are good only when they are associated with a good will. This fact explains our finding the cool- ness of a scoundrel "abominable" (G 394) and our taking "no delight in seeing the uninterrupted prosperity" of a bad- willed person (G 393).

None of this is new or surprising. But one of the more surprising facts worth noting is that Tl follows from (1) (when conjoined with one implicit assumption). The argument is as follows. (1) says that every good thing other than a good will depends for its goodness on a good will. Assuming, as seems reasonable, that there must be some good thing that does not depend for its goodness on the goodness of anything else (for otherwise we would be forced into circularity or infinite regress), it follows directly that this thing must be a good will. (Were it anything other than a good will, (1) tells us that it would depend for its goodness on something else.) Thus, a good will is unconditionally good, and it is the only thing that is unconditionally good. So (1), along with the claim that there must be some good thing that does not depend for its goodness on the goodness of anything else, entails Tl. (Rickless, 558-9.)

REFERENCES

I. Kant, Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, tr. M. Gregor. Published by Cambridge University Press ISBN 10: 0521626951 ISBN 13: 9780521626958

Samuel C. Rickless, 'From the Good Will to the Formula of Universal Law', Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, Vol. 68, No. 3 (May, 2004), pp. 554-577.

N. Potter, 1974. "The Argument of Kant's Groundwork, Chapter 1." Cana- dian Journal of Philosophy, Supplementary Volume 1, Part 1. Reprinted in Kant's Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals: Critical Essays, ed. P. Guyer, 29-49. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 1998

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