The Apple of Kant's Ethics: i‐Maxims as the Locus of Assessment

Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 1 (2022)
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Abstract

A maxim is a subjective principle of volition. But I want to distinguish between maxims at three levels of abstraction. At the first level are what I shall call individual maxims, or i-maxims: maxim tokens as adopted by particular rational beings. At the second level are abstract maxims, or a-maxims: abstract principles distinct from any individual who adopts them. At the third level are maxim kinds, or k-maxims: sets of various action-guiding principles that are grouped on the basis of their content. In this paper, I argue for the thesis that i-maxims are the locus of assessment in Kant’s ethics. I argue for this thesis in two ways. First I argue that there is textual evidence in favor of my thesis. Then I argue that there are good philosophical grounds in favor of my thesis. Thus, I argue that there are reasons to think that Kant thought i-maxims are the locus of assessment and, further, that he was right about this.

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Samuel J. M. Kahn
Indiana University Purdue University, Indianapolis

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References found in this work

Kant’s Ethical Thought.Allen W. Wood - 1999 - Cambridge University Press.
Kant's Theory of Freedom.Henry E. Allison - 1990 - Cambridge University Press.
Kant’s Ethical Thought. [REVIEW]Allen W. Wood - 1999 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 62 (4):758-759.
Extreme and Restricted Utilitarianism.J. J. C. Smart - 1956 - Philosophical Quarterly 6 (25):344-354.

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