Good but not required?—assessing the demands of Kantian ethics

Journal of Moral Philosophy 2 (1):9-27 (2005)
Abstract
There seems to be a strong sentiment in pre-philosophical moral thought that actions can be morally valuable without at the same time being morally required. Yet Kant, who takes great pride in developing an ethical system firmly grounded in common moral thought, makes no provision for any such extraordinary acts of virtue. Rather, he supports a classification of actions as either obligatory, permissible or prohibited, which in the eyes of his critics makes it totally inadequate to the facts of morality. The related idea of uncommonly grand and noble deeds is frequently dismissed by Kant as high-.own emotional nonsense. Such considerations give rise to the fear that actions intuitively classed as morally commendable but not required must be re-classified as commands of duty by Kant, making his ethical theory as unbearably demanding as direct utilitarianism. The paper divides into three sections: (1) an examination of the nature of moral goodness from a meta-ethical angle that introduces some passages from Kant's writings presenting strong theoretical evidence against the case for supererogatory action; (2) a critique of Thomas Hill's suggestion that within the category of wide duty we can accommodate some of the main features of actions classified as supererogatory in other ethical systems; concluding that, contra Hill, there are no actions of wide duty that can be so characterized in any significant sense; and (3) a final discussion of the problem of how demanding the requirements of Kantian ethical theory really are.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1177/1740468105052581
Options
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history
Request removal from index
Download options
Our Archive


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 28,756
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA
Kant and Moral Demandingness.Marcel van Ackeren & Martin Sticker - 2015 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 18 (1):75-89.
Is Procreative Beneficence Obligatory?B. Saunders - 2015 - Journal of Medical Ethics 41 (2):175-178.
Disjunctive Duties and Supererogatory Sets of Actions.Matthias Brinkmann - 2015 - Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 77:67-86.
Kant’s Moral Theory and Demandingness.Alice Pinheiro Walla - 2015 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 18 (4):731-743.

View all 8 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles
For Community's Sake: A (Self-Respecting) Kantian Account of Forgiveness.Kate A. Moran - forthcoming - Proceedings of the XI International Kant-Kongress.
The Good Will.Allen W. Wood - 2003 - Philosophical Topics 31 (1/2):457-484.
On the Value of Acting From the Motive of Duty.Barbara Herman - 1981 - Philosophical Review 90 (3):359-382.
Kantian Beneficence and the Problem of Obligatory Aid.Karen Stohr - 2011 - Journal of Moral Philosophy 8 (1):45-67.

Monthly downloads

Added to index

2009-01-28

Total downloads

103 ( #49,561 of 2,178,111 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

11 ( #27,964 of 2,178,111 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature


Discussion
Order:
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.

Other forums