Moral self-knowledge in Kantian ethics

Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 12 (5):525 - 537 (2009)
Kant’s duty of self-knowledge demands that one know one’s heart—the quality of one’s will in relation to duty. Self-knowledge requires that an agent subvert feelings which fuel self-aggrandizing narratives and increase self-conceit; she must adopt the standpoint of the rational agent constrained by the requirements of reason in order to gain information about her moral constitution. This is not I argue, contra Nancy Sherman, in order to assess the moral goodness of her conduct. Insofar as sound moral practice requires moral self-knowledge and moral self-knowledge requires a theoretical commitment to a conception of the moral self, sound moral agency is for Kant crucially tied to theory. Kant plausibly holds that self-knowledge is a protection against moral confusion and self-deception. I conclude that although his account relies too heavily on the awareness of moral law to explain its connection to moral development, it is insightful and important in Kantian ethics.
Keywords Self-knowledge  Kant  Self-deception  Duty  Casuistry
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DOI 10.2307/27764620
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