ADVANTAGES

Kant's moral argument for belief in God in the Critique of PracticalReason may be summarized as follows. Kant holds that virtue andhappiness are not just combined but necessarily combined in the idea ofthe highest good, because only possessing virtue makes one worthy ofhappiness — a claim that Kant seems to regard as part of the content ofthe moral law (4:393; 5:110, 124). But we can represent virtue andhappiness as necessarily combined only by representing virtue as theefficient cause of happiness. This means that we must represent thehighest good not simply as a state of affairs in which everyone is bothhappy and virtuous, but rather as one in which everyone is happybecause they are virtuous (5:113–114, 124). However, it is beyond thepower of human beings, both individually and collectively, to guaranteethat happiness results from virtue, and we do not know any law ofnature that guarantees this either. Therefore, we must conclude thatthe highest good is impossible, unless we postulate “the existence of acause of nature, distinct from nature, which contains the ground ofthis connection, namely the exact correspondence of happiness withmorality” (5:125). This cause of nature would have to be God since itmust have both understanding and will. Kant probably does notconceive of God as the efficient cause of a happiness that is rewardedin a future life to those who are virtuous in this one. Rather, hisview is probably that we represent our endless progress towardholiness, beginning with this life and extending into infinity, as theefficient cause of our happiness, which likewise begins in this lifeand extends to a future one, in accordance with teleological laws thatGod authors and causes to harmonize with efficient causes in nature(A809–812/B837–840; 5:127–131, 447–450).

Testimonials

Satisfied customers are saying