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(This gap is one that, I would argue, faces the utilitarian much more dramatically than it does the Kantian; and demonstrating the gap is surely the main point of all the well-known scapegoat and other counterexamples to utilitarianism.As clever as Kant's suggestion is, however, it surely does not address all aspects of the theory/practice challenge to morality.This theory is, it could be argued, the best rational reconstruction of our considered moral judgments about punishment -- e.g., the common moral belief that the guilty deserve to suffer.
A second sense of the charge, however, involves a possible gap between our moral consciousness itself and the real world -- the world of empirical reality.
Consider, as an illustration, the retributive theory of punishment.
Following a general discussion of what may be meant by the topic "theory and practice," Kant structures his essay as a response to the challenges to his own theories that are to be found in the writings of three other thinkers: Christian Garve, Thomas Hobbes, and Moses Mendelssohn. It might be instructive to see how Kant himself responded to the kind of Kant-bashing that was current in his own day -- some of it not all that different from our contemporary forms. Though nominally put forth to lay out clearly the topic for discussion and to set the reader up for what is to follow, they are often overly compressed and obscure.
The introduction to "Theory and Practice" is, alas, somewhat in this mold.
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Learn with extra-efficient algorithm, developed by our team, to save your time.Although it makes (in a reasonably clear way) some important distinctions, it also contains much that is obscure and, as an introduction to what is actually to follow, somewhat misleading.One thing is reasonably clear: Kant is at some level worried about the moral philistine -- the businessman, the politician, the military officer who prides himself on his role as a hard-headed, no-nonsense, realistic and who, in pursuing his objective of greed or power or victory, either ridicules morality and moral theory as irrelevant to his practice or who conveniently adopts an account of morality exactly tailored to allow him to do whatever he pleases.Think of those who see all welfare recipients as chiselers, all poor people as lazy, all criminals as free and responsible, and -- to shift ideologies -- all women as really desiring the independent and autonomous status that (supposedly) comes from having a career.Kant is not indifferent to such problems in "Theory and Practice" and suggests that the existence of such people shows, not a weakness in theory, but a weakness in human nature -- the problem that some people simply lack the "natural gift" of For to the concept of the understanding that contains the rule must be added an act of judgment by means of which the practitioner decides whether or not something is an instance of the rule.And since further rules cannot always be added to guide judgment in its subsumptions (for that could go on infinitely), there can be theoreticians who, lacking judgment, can never be practical in their lives (275, 61).Kant has part of the story here, but surely there is more that needs to be said. It is also true, however, that many people make faulty judgments, not simply because they lack some "natural gift,j" but because they are caught up in complex webs of false consciousness and self-deception -- webs perhaps built and encouraged by certain philosophical theories.Such a person may even come to a distorted view of the world by seeing the world only through the spectacles of his theory -- thinking his theory is consistent with the facts because he does not realize that he is unable to accept as a fact anything that is inconsistent with his theory.(Paranoids, seeing all helpful gestures as threats, are masters of this; but the tendency is also present in those who are mentally normal.We have some bad news for you: we are not going to write your essay.But there are also good news: you are going to save a lot of time and effort!