Skip to main content
Kent Academic Repository

The Normative Source of Kantian Hypothetical Imperatives

Kong, Camillia (2012) The Normative Source of Kantian Hypothetical Imperatives. International Journal of Philosophical Studies, 20 (5). pp. 661-690. (doi:10.1080/09672559.2012.724930) (KAR id:58531)

PDF Author's Accepted Manuscript
Language: English
Download this file
[thumbnail of The Normative Source of Kantian HI.pdf]
Request a format suitable for use with assistive technology e.g. a screenreader
Microsoft Word Author's Accepted Manuscript
Language: English

Restricted to Repository staff only
[thumbnail of The Normative Source of Kantian HI.doc]
Official URL:


This paper offers a critique of Christine Korsgaard’s interpretation of Kantian instrumental reason. Korsgaard understands Kantian hypothetical imperatives to share a common normative source with the categorical imperative – namely self-legislating, human rational agency. However, her reading of Kantian hypothetical imperatives is problematic for three reasons. Firstly, Korsgaard’s agent-centred approach renders incoherent Kant’s analytic-synthetic division. Secondly, by minimising the dualistic framework of Kant’s practical philosophy the dialectical character of practical rationality is lost: norms of instrumental reasoning therefore become confused with those of moral reasoning. Thirdly, this in turn curtails the distinct critical authority of pure practical rationality over instrumental choice. The paper argues that we need to understand the normativity of instrumental rationality through the lens of Kant’s dualisms. An alternative interpretation is offered which highlights how the norms of hypothetical imperatives appeal to standards of theoretical cognition and practical efficiency rather than the self-legislative demands of pure practical reason.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1080/09672559.2012.724930
Uncontrolled keywords: instrumental rationality, hypothetical imperatives, pure practical reasoning, categorical imperative, Kant, Korsgaard, dualism
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BJ Ethics
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of Culture and Languages
Depositing User: Camillia Kong
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2016 14:59 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Nov 2021 10:23 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

  • Depositors only (login required):

Total unique views for this document in KAR since July 2020. For more details click on the image.