Published online by Cambridge University Press: 06 December 2010
Kant's views about moral and non-moral motivation in the Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals and the Critique of Practical Reason have been the basis for some of the most familiar objections to Kantian rationalism. In reply to these texts, historical and contemporary critics have objected to Kant's rigid moral psychology, which appears to deny sensibility any role in moral agency and to understand moral activity as a matter of rational conscience, not character, virtue, emotion, and desire. As readers of the Groundwork will recall, Kant begins his analysis of morality in that work by proclaiming that the good will is the only thing that is good without limitation (Gr 4: 393; 49). In explicating the special mode of volition that makes the good will absolutely good, Kant draws a sharp contrast between duty and inclination as two opposing sources of motivation for the human will, and insists that only action motivated from a sense of duty possesses genuine moral worth. In light of the connection Kant insists on between the good will and duty, it looks as if having a good will amounts to doing one's duty for the sake of duty, not from emotion or inclination. Kant famously contrasts action done from duty and action done from inclination in his illustrations of four kinds of conformity to duty.