Justifications and excuses are defenses that exculpate. They are therefore much more like each other than like such defenses as diplomatic immunity, which does not exculpate. But they exculpate in different ways, and it has proven difficult to agree on just what that difference consists in. In this paper I take a step back from justification and excuse as concepts in criminal law, and look at the concepts as they arise in everyday life. To keep the task manageable, I focus (...) primarily on excuses and excusing activities, distinguishing them from justifications as well as from other close relatives, in particular, forgiving and pardoning. I draw upon J.L. Austinâs classic A Plea for Excuses, but expand on his account, suggesting that we offer excuses for reasons besides those he mentions. My hope is that my examination of excuses and excusing activities will help us rethink our views on just how justifications and excuses differ, views which often are worked out without much attention to how these concepts function in everyday life and to the connection between offers of excuses and justifications and the rules of civility. (shrink)
Part I raises some questions concerning the extent of our freedom on the view that Henry Allison's Kant's Theory of Freedom attributes to Kant, and the possibility, on that view, of weakness of will. Allison is correct to attribute to Kant the ?Incorporation Thesis?: one is never compelled to do x just because one has a desire (even a very intense desire) to do x; a desire moves one to action only if one allows it to. But while the attribution (...) seems correct, there is a puzzle: how, given the Incorporation Thesis, is weakness of will, or ?frailty?, possible? Part II considers Kant's claim in The Doctrine of Virtue that we have an indirect duty to cultivate our sympathetic feelings. Allison's interpretation is unsatisfactory because it fails to steer clear of the ?impurity? problem: the interpretation seems to foist on Kant an endorsement of impurity, i.e. the seeking out of nonmoral reasons to induce one to do one's duty. To seek out such reasons is to cultivate an impure will, something Kant warns against. A different interpretation is offered. (shrink)
238 THE JOURNAL OF PHILOSOPHY ently, believe that his theory asks too much, demanding total devo- tion to morality and treating everything worth doing (and perhaps more) as a duty. But, despite their differences, the two sets of.
This paper distinguishes and evaluates six types of ethics of virtue, Taking the mark of an ethics of virtue to be the denial that it is a necessary condition of perfectly moral personhood that one be governed by a sense of what one morally ought to do. Appealing to charles taylor's notion of strong evaluation, I argue that all such ethics of virtue are inadequate because they fail to leave room for a distinction between valuing and desiring.
Friends as well as foes of Kant have long been uneasy over his emphasis on duty, but lately the view that there is something morally repugnant about acting from duty seems to be gaining in popularity. More and more philosophers indicate their readiness to jettison duty and the moral 'ought' and to conceive of the perfectly moral person as someone who has all the right desires and acts accordingly without any notion that (s)he ought to act in this way. Elsewhere' (...) I have argued that such a picture of the perfectly moral person is flawed. In this paper I examine the claim that acting from duty is morally repugnant. There is some truth to this charge, but, I argue, the repugnance attaches not to acting from duty as such, but only to certain ways of acting from duty. In isolating the objectionable elements of acting from duty, I hope not only to vindicate the skeletal concept but also to offer illumination on the question of just how we should understand morally good conduct. (shrink)