Impermissibility and Kantian Moral Worth

Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 13 (4):403 - 419 (2010)
Samuel Kerstein argues that an asymmetry between moral worth and maxims prevents Kant from accepting a category of acts that are impermissible, but have moral worth. Kerstein contends that an act performed from the motive of duty should be considered as a candidate for moral worth, even if the action's maxim turns out to be impermissible, since moral worth depends on the correct moral motivation of an act, rather than on the moral lightness of an act. I argue that Kant cannot consistently maintain that there are morally forbidden, though good, acts since one of the conditions of acting from the moral law should be that one has a true belief about what the moral law requires. My project, then, rejects the possibility of morally impermissible, worthy acts for Kant, and qualifies the conditions for moral worth Kerstein gives with an epistemological constraint on moral worth.
Keywords moral worth  duty  impermissibility
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DOI 10.2307/40835359
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