Moral purism is a commonly held view on moral worthiness and how to identify it in concrete cases. Moral purists long for a moral world in which people—at least sometimes—act morally worthy, but in concrete cases they systematically discount good deeds as grounded in self-interest. Moral purism evokes moral cynicism. Moral cynicism is a problem, both in society at large and the business world. Moral cynicism can be fought by refuting moral purism. This article takes issue with moral purism. The common strategy to tackle moral purism is to reject the exclusion thesis which states that self-interest and the ‘pure’ moral motive exclude each other. We develop a different strategy. We argue that moral purists are mistaken in the way they judge moral worthiness in concrete cases. They employ the wrong procedure and the wrong criteria. We develop a proper procedure and proper criteria. We build on Kant, who we argue is unfairly regarded as the champion of moral purism. In order to see how Kant can develop a consistent philosophy, the exclusion thesis must be embedded in Kant’s transcendental philosophy. Properly embedded, Kant turns out to be both anti-purist and anti-cynical.
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DOI 10.1007/s10551-019-04167-y
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The Moral Judgement of the Child.Jean Piaget - 1933 - Philosophy 8 (31):373-374.
The Practice of Moral Judgment.Paul Guyer - 1993 - Ethics 106 (2):404-423.
Kant’s Ethical Thought.Allen W. Wood - 2001 - Philosophical Quarterly 51 (203):259-261.
The Scope of Moral Requirement.Barbara Herman - 2001 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 30 (3):227-256.

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