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Word Count: 690
Kant starts off making two distinctions regarding kinds of knowledge empiricalrational and formalmaterial Empirical or experience-based knowledge is compared with rational knowledge which is independent of experience This distinction between empirical and rational knowledge rests on a difference in sources of evidence used to support the two different kinds of knowledge Formal is compared with material knowledge Formal knowledge has no specific subject matter it is about the general format of thinking about any subject matter whatsoever Material knowledge is of a specific subject matter either nature or freedom Rational knowledge is metaphysics of which there are two branches the metaphysics of nature and of morals The metaphysics of nature is supposed to provide rational knowledge of the laws of nature These are not empirical laws they are more like universal principles of nature that any empirical physical would presuppose such as that no event in nature occurs without a natural cause The metaphysics of freedom is supposed to provide knowledge of the laws of freedom These are the universal rules which free agents form to govern them Therefore Kants grounding his initial attempt at a critique of rational reason is an investigation of the possibility of purely rational knowledge of morals Take for example the Moral Rule Thou shall not lie If the moral law is valid as the basis of moral obligation or duty then it must be necessary Kant using the word necessity means that the rule obligates or binds whatever the conditions or in all circumstances It also means that the rule applies to all rational beings and not only to human beings In this second sense we can say that the rule is universally binding So in fact moral rules are universal and necessary If a moral rule is to be universal and necessary the moral law must be derived from concepts of pure reason alone Therefore if a moral rule or law can only be derived from reason alone
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