• ‘A posteriori’ argument
• Kant criticised Teleological, Cosmological, Ontological arguments because
these cannot be proofs of God’s existence because we don't understand God.
• = Human reason is limited – God is unlimited. God is beyond our
• It is however possible to ‘infer’ him through ‘practical reason’
Kant proposes 3 postulates of practical reason: we are immortal,
God exists and we are free beings.
E.g God is a ‘postulate’ of pure reason
(A ‘postulate’ means something which
is put forward (postulated) as
a way of solving a problem)
1. Kant emphasizes the autonomy of morality
All moral actions must be freely chosen. This means that Kant rejects the
idea of God as Divine Lawgiver who orders to follow his rules out of fear of
2. If we are autonomous what is morally right?
• Do your duty
Universal basis for morality which are the self imposed moral duties.
3. How do you work out what you duty is?
Worked out through reason. It is the truly right thing to do. This can be done
by thinking if it can be applied universally. The only intrinsically good reason
for moral action = goodwill
• Act according to good will
An action is good to do not because of the consequences. An
action in accordance with ‘good will’ will achieve the summon
This can be seen in the ‘categorical imperative.’
Categorical = something that you have to do
Imperative = command
= It is your duty to follow the categorical imperative in line with
good will to achieve the summon bonum.
4. What is meant by summon bonum?
Achievement of moral goodness and happiness together.
• Moral action is about doing one’s
• The reason to do one’s duty is to
achieve the Summon Bonum (highest
• However sometimes in this world
you can follow duty and not achieve
the summon bonum because of the
wickedness in world.
• The highest good must be achievable
• Therefore we can postulate God's
Everyone seeks the Summon Bonum
Summon Bonum cannot be achieved in this life
Whatever can be sought must be achievable because universe
Must postulate (assume) an afterlife where the summon
bonum can be achieved
Therefore necessary to postulate that God exists in order to
guarantee that the universe if fair so that the summon
bonum is achieved
In other words:
• Kant is not trying to prove God’s existence
but is merely arguing that morality is
ordered in a moral way.
• That IF the universe is fair
• And IF the summon bonum can be achieved
• Then God and after life are necessary
• Do you think the universe if fair?
• Do you think there is a Highest Good?
Impossible to prove
Evolution: behave morally because want others to
behave morally towards us.
Peter Cole: Why should virtue be rewarded with
happiness? Assumes that the universe is fair but is it?
Why should virtue be rewarded at all, not a means to
If you don't believe in God this argument will not help
someone be moral, only helps the believers
Kant argues that only God can bring about the
Summon Bonum. But why God?
Brian Davies: “why not a pantheon of angels?”
Deep deep down at the bottom of
unconscious mind – son’s love of mother.
based upon guilt
• Famous Psychologist
• Founder of psychoanalysis
• Religion is an ‘obsessional neurosis’
• A neuroses describes problems
experienced in life e.g. traumas that are
repressed in the mind and develop into
obsessive neurosis in adulthood e.g.
• Thus, belief in God, an afterlife or
happiness are just obsessional neurosis
that religion satisfies.
• Therefore, against Kant, disproves the
need for summon bonum, afterlife or
postulate of God.
The mind has three parts:
1. The Id: human instincts, desires and
2. The ego: shaped by external
influences – traumas, education,
3. The superego: part of ego, human
reason, make decisions. Parenting
values and influence mould
superego. Superego is where the
conscience is found.
• Moral values are the result of
our experiences through
upbringing and interaction
with the subconscious mind.
• Parents = influence through
education, values, morals
• Therefore morals are not
objective, universal, rational
or absolute as Kant implied
but society and upbringingQuickly research: Primal
Horde and Totem/ Taboo
• Founder of psychoanalysis
• Fundamental in the development of
dreams, mind (Id, Ego, and
superego) and conscious, sub
conscious, unconscious (iceberg)
• Clear that parents/ environment
affect our morals and ethical ideas
• Explains why all our morals are so
different: over time/ culture/s
society because of the influence of
parents on the individual.
• Unethical/ unscientific case studies
done: Little Hans
• What about children from single
parent families or modern families -
Freud implies they are immoral =
• What happens if parents are
immoral? – implies little freewill
over morals if inbuilt by parents
• Does this mean parents can be held
responsible if their children are
immoral/ break the law?
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