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  • Print publication year: 2011
  • Online publication date: February 2011

4 - The difference that ends make


The starting point for many discussions of Kantian ethics and virtue involves either a presumption or a challenge to the effect that an account of the virtues, or an ethics of virtue, is both essential to proper understanding of morality and alien to the Kantian enterprise. In thinking about the role of moral rules and principles, one should be careful not to conflate the forms of practical activity with whatever it is that gives them authority or justification. This chapter explores an end-anchored interpretation of Kant's ethics, and uses that interpretation to build out the ethics in terms congenial to the ambitions of virtue theory. On the Kant side of things, the theoretical foundation is necessary to the practice. Without rational nature as an end in itself, final and authoritative for us as free agents, there could be no doctrine of virtue.