Were Kant’s hypothetical imperatives wide-scope oughts?

TitleWere Kant’s hypothetical imperatives wide-scope oughts?
Publication TypeJournal Article
AuthorsRippon, Simon
Journal titleAustralasian Journal of Philosophy

I defend the claim that Kant held a wide-scope view of hypothetical imperatives, against objections raised by Mark Schroeder [2005]. There is an important objection, now commonly known as the ‘bootstrapping’ problem, to the alternative, narrow-scope, view which Schroeder attributes to Kant. Schroeder argues that Kant has sufficient resources to reply to the bootstrapping problem, and claims that this leaves us with no good reason to attribute to Kant the wide-scope view. I show that Schroeder's Kantian reply to the bootstrapping problem cannot fully answer it. Schroeder also offers three main textual arguments for attributing to Kant the narrow-scope view: from Kant's claim that the moral imperative is unique in virtue of its categoricity, from Kant's distinction between ‘problematic’ and ‘assertoric’ hypothetical imperatives, and from Kant's conception of analyticity together with his claim that hypothetical imperatives are analytic. I argue that each of these views can be understood as cohering with the more plausible wide-scope view of hypothetical imperatives.

Publisher linkhttp://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00048402.2014.915576