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Philosophy Research Archives

Volume 3, 1977

Mark Sagoff
Pages 537-552

Morality and the Logical Subject of Intentions

This paper interprets Kant's theory of right on analogy with his theory of truth. The familiar distinction is presented between the mental act and its object: e.g. between the act of believing and the belief; the perceiving and the thing perceived; the act of willing and the action willed. The act of mind is always private; different people, however, can perceive and believe the same or contradictory things. The notion of truth depends (for Kant) on the intersubjectivity or universalizability of the mental object. It might seem that the act intended as well as the act of intending must be private, however, because I can will only my own actions; but Kant suggests that I may will not as myself but as one of a community: the logical subject of the intending may not be I but We. Kant had in mind the community of rational beings; Bradley and Green relativize the community to national groups.