Response to Kant’s Kingdom of Ends

So I did a very smart thing this quarter and did most of my reading responses early, before I got other bigger commitments. I finally got the motivation to write my last reading response last week, so here it is.

Kant, Immanuel. “Groundwork for the Metaphysics Morals.” Cambridge University Press, 1998. 1-45

(As a preface, I had huge difficulty doing this reading, so I’m not really sure about this.)
Kant introduces this idea of the Kingdom of Ends (KE), where everyone has the freedom to pursue his or her own will, with the restriction that one must never violate another’s right to his or her will. The KE seems distinct from the FHE and FUL in that it doesn’t provide a method for determining proper action on a daily basis, but instead proposes the resulting state if we were to obey the categorical imperative alone. The core principle to the KE, however, is that one’s will creates universal law, which similarly doesn’t immediately propose proper action on a daily basis. Kant notes the difficulty reconciling the KE with the Kingdom of Nature (KN), where only the only laws are “externally necessitated efficient causes.” The successful application of the KE requires that everyone obey it. For example, perhaps I never cut in line because it will result in getting through faster. Universally followed, we would have no conflict here, yet in a world governed by KN, others would cut in line as they follow no law requiring that they avoid trampling my will (sorry for the bad example).
Moreover, there’s a similar issue to Utilitarianism in that we can’t know everything. While we can certainly hope to respect everyone’s will, we might not know that we had prevented someone else from pursuing their maxim. Moreover, there isn’t a method here to resolving conflicts. If my will contradicts someone else’s, does it become my responsibility to not pursue my will because it would trample on his or her’s? Kant might argue that the construction of the CI inherently means that we cannot have conflicts, yet I feel certain that the recursive definition of the KE (my will being dependent on the will of others) leads to problems which aren’t immediately resolved.

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