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Kant, Gewirth, and Prinz

Alan Gewirth

In a 1994 essay, Alan Gewirth (pictured here) admitted that Kant's argument to the categorical imperative had flaws, and he attempted a patch-up job.

In a 2007 book, another philosopher Jesse Prinz, reconstructed Gewirth's reconstruction of what Kant might have meant. In Prinz' version it has an economical two premises, everything else is a conclusion. 

I present the Prinz version without further comment, except for one bracketed correction.

P1. I am an agent.
P2. If I am an agent, I accept that freedom and well-being are necessary for me.
C1. Therefore, I accept that I must have freedom and well-being. (From P1 and P2.)
C2. Therefore, I accept that it is impermissible to not have freedom and well-being. (From C1, because its denial is the contradiction of that premise.)
C3. Therefore, I accept that it is impermissible for others to remove or interfere with my freedom and well-being. (From C2.)
C4. Therefore, I accept that others ought to refrain from removing or interfering with my freedom and well-being. (From C3.) 
C5. Therefore, I accept that I have a right to freedom and well-being. (From C4, because of the correlativity of oughts and rights.) 
C6. The same argument applies to all agents. (Universal generalization of P1.)
C7. Therefore, all agents accept that they have the right to freedom and well-being. [Here I believe that there is a misprint in Prinz' text, but presumably this comes from combining C5 and C6.] 
C8. Therefore, I accept that all agents have the right to freedom and well-being. (From P1 and C7). 


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