Kant on Cultivating a Good and Stable Will

In Iskra Fileva (ed.), Questions of Character. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 63-77 (2016)
Authors
Adam Cureton
University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Abstract
Kant’s deontology is often seen as a rival to virtue ethics. This chapter argues, however, that while there may be differences between Kant’s and Aristotle’s conceptions virtue (for instance, a virtuous person, in Kant’s view, may be destitute and unhappy, fail to cultivate certain emotions and sentiments, etc.), virtue is central to Kant’s ethics. The key problem is whether there is a Kantian account of virtue compatible with Kant’s view of free will. Kant held that having virtue means having a will that is both good and stable. So to cultivate virtue means to cultivate a stable will. But the idea of character cultivation seems to run counter to Kant’s view of freedom, since for Kant, people are always free to choose how to act. This chapter puts forth a novel proposal for solving this problem, one which has to do with the limits on self-knowledge.
Keywords Kant  virtue  will  freedom  moral development  self-knowledge
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