Metaphysical Elements of Justice: Part I of the Metaphysics of Morals

Metaphysical Elements of Justice: Part I of the Metaphysics of Morals

Metaphysical Elements of Justice: Part I of the Metaphysics of Morals

Metaphysical Elements of Justice: Part I of the Metaphysics of Morals


This volume offers the complete text of Kant's Metaphysics of Morals, Part One, translated by John Ladd, along with Ladd's illuminating Introduction to the first edition, updated to include discussion of such issues as Kant's conception of marriage and its relevance to his view of women.


This book is a translation of the first part of Kant's Metaphysics of Morals (Metaphysik der Sitten). It is generally known as the Rechtslehre, the full title being Die metaphysische Anfangsgründe der Rechtslehre, which is translated here as the Metaphysical Elements of Justice. Different translators have given different English titles to this work, such as “Philosophy of Law” (Hastie) and “Doctrine of Right” (Gregor). in order to avoid confusion, in referring to this work, I prefer to use the standard nickname Rechtslehre (or the abbreviation rl).

The second part of the Metaphysics of Morals is generally known as the Tugendlehre, the full title again being Die metaphysische Anfangs gründe der Tugendlehre. Here again, there is a variety of different English titles that have been given to this work. I shall therefore simply refer to it as the Tugendlehre (TL).

Thus, as will be seen in the introduction to the metaphysics of morals in the present work, the subject of the first part (rl) is justice, rights and law, while the subject of the second part (tl) is virtue.

Basically the original German text for this translation comes from the second edition of the Rechtslehre (1798). the standard edition of the text was published by the Preussische Akademie der Wissenschaften and is generally known as the Academische Ausgabe (abbr. AA). This edition is now available through de Gruyter press under the title Kants Werke: Akademie Textausgabe, vol. vi. the complete works (thirty volumes) has the title, Kants Gesammelte Schriften. in the present translation, the standard pagination of Kant's works is indicated in brackets giving the page number in Volume vi of these editions. Using these standard reference numbers should make it easy for students to compare translations and to refer back to German texts.

There are a number of reasons why a new edition of this translation is needed. First, since the first edition was prepared some forty years ago, there has been a virtual explosion in Kant scholarship and of scholarly interest in Kant's political and legal philosophy in particular. There have been several new editions of the text in German as well as a number of new translations of the text, for example, in French and English, and a flood of new secondary literature on the rl in general . . .

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