Freedom, frailty, and impurity

Inquiry 36 (4):431 – 441 (1993)
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.
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DOI 10.1080/00201749308602333
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