From Duty and for the Sake of the Noble: Kant and Aristotle on Morally Good Action

In Stephen Engstrom & Jennifer Whiting (eds.), Aristotle, Kant, and the Stoics: Rethinking Happiness and Duty. Cambridge University Press (1996)
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Abstract

Aristotle believes that an agent lacks virtue unless she enjoys the performance of virtuous actions, while Kant claims that the person who does her duty despite contrary inclinations exhibits a moral worth that the person who acts from inclination lacks. Despite these differences, this chapter argues that Aristotle and Kant share a distinctive view of the object of human choice and locus of moral value: that what we choose, and what has moral value, are not mere acts, but actions: acts done for the sake of ends. Morally good actions embody a kind of intrinsic value that inspires us to do them from duty (in Kant) or for the sake of the noble (in Aristotle). The chapter traces the difference in their attitudes about doing one's duty with pleasure to a difference in their attitudes towards pleasure itself: Aristotle sees it as a perception of the good, while Kant thinks of it as mere feeling.

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