David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Kant-Studien 103 (3):318-336 (2012)
Kant frequently speaks as if all voluntary actions arise from our maxims as the subjective principles of our practical reason. But, as Michael Albrecht has pointed out, Kant also occasionally speaks as if it is only the rare person of “character” who acts according to principles or maxims. I argue that Kant’s seemingly contradictory claims on this front result from the fact that there are two fundamentally different ways that maxims of action can figure in the deliberation of the agent: an agent can act on a maxim either because it promises agreeable results or because he deems it to be an intrinsically correct principle of action. Kant describes a maxim of the latter sort as “firm” and as indicative of “character” in the honorific sense. If the agent’s commitment to his maxim is instead conditional on its agreeable results, we can say he does not act “on principle” and in that sense does not act on maxims at all: rather than aiming at a set of results because the action that produces them conforms to his maxim, he acts according to his maxim because doing so promises (and only as long as it promises) the results he desires. Such an agent thus lacks the principled maxims of a person of character since his maxims are always for sale to the highest bidder. Kant allows that an evil person can approximate the ideal of a principled indifference to results, but claims that only morally good action can be wholly principled. This is also why maxims of action in conformity with duty can be acquired gradually through habituation whereas an authentically moral maxim must instead arise from a “revolution” in thought.
|Keywords||Kant maxims character habit virtue inner freedom Baumgarten Wolff|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
Michael Albrecht (2009). Kant's Justification of the Role of Maxims in Ethics. In Karl Ameriks, Otfried Höffe & Nicolas Walker (eds.), Kant's Moral and Legal Philosophy. Cambridge University Press
Michael Albrecht (1994). Kants Maximenethik und ihre Begründung. Kant-Studien 85 (2):129-146.
Citations of this work BETA
Similar books and articles
Richard R. McCarty (2006). Maxims in Kant's Practical Philosophy. Journal of the History of Philosophy 44 (1):65-83.
Rob Gressis (2010). Recent Work on Kantian Maxims I: Established Approaches. Philosophy Compass 5 (3):216-227.
Rob Gressis (2010). Recent Work on Kantian Maxims II. Philosophy Compass 5 (3):228-239.
Jordan Howard Sobel (1997). Kant's Compass. Erkenntnis 46 (3):365-392.
Talbot Brewer (2001). Rethinking Our Maxims: Perceptual Salience and Practical Judgment in Kantian Ethics. [REVIEW] Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 4 (3):219-230.
Scott Forschler (2010). Willing Universal Law Vs. Universally Lawful Willing. Southwest Philosophy Review 26 (1):141-152.
James Scott Johnston (2006). The Education of the Categorical Imperative. Studies in Philosophy and Education 25 (5-6):385-402.
Andrews Reath (1993). Intelligible Character and the Reciprocity Thesis. Inquiry 36 (4):419 – 430.
Jill Hernandez (2010). Impermissibility and Kantian Moral Worth. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 13 (4):403 - 419.
Scott Forschler (2012). From Supervenience to “Universal Law”: How Kantian Ethics Become Heteronomous. In Dietmar Heidemann (ed.), Kant and Contemporary Moral Philosophy. De Gruyter
Lara Denis (2007). Abortion and Kant's Formula of Universal Law. Canadian Journal of Philosophy 37 (4):547-580.
Kenneth R. Westphal (1993). ‘The Basic Context and Structure of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right’. In F. C. Beiser (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Hegel. Cambridge
Claude Sumner (1981). The Life and Maxims of Ske̳nde̳s. Printed for the Ministry of Culture and Sports by Commercial Printing Press.
Kenneth R. Westphal (2010). Practical Reason: Categorical Imperative, Maxims, Laws. In W. Dudley & K. Engelhard (eds.), Kant: Key Concepts. Acumen
Added to index2011-08-05
Total downloads147 ( #15,336 of 1,726,249 )
Recent downloads (6 months)81 ( #16,792 of 1,726,249 )
How can I increase my downloads?