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Introduction

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  06 December 2010

Anne Margaret Baxley
Affiliation:
Washington University, St Louis
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Summary

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.

Type
Chapter
Information
Kant's Theory of Virtue
The Value of Autocracy
, pp. 1 - 6
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2010

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References

Denis, Lara, “Kant's Conception of Virtue,” in The Cambridge Companion to Kant and Modern Philosophy, ed. Guyer, Paul (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006), p. 530Google Scholar

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  • Introduction
  • Anne Margaret Baxley, Washington University, St Louis
  • Book: Kant's Theory of Virtue
  • Online publication: 06 December 2010
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511779466.001
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  • Introduction
  • Anne Margaret Baxley, Washington University, St Louis
  • Book: Kant's Theory of Virtue
  • Online publication: 06 December 2010
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511779466.001
Available formats
×

Send book to Google Drive

To send content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

  • Introduction
  • Anne Margaret Baxley, Washington University, St Louis
  • Book: Kant's Theory of Virtue
  • Online publication: 06 December 2010
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511779466.001
Available formats
×