The Journal of Ethics 11 (1):65-86 (2007)

Michael Weber
Bowling Green State University
A number of neo-Kantians have suggested that an act may be morally worthy even if sympathy and similar emotions are present, so long as they are not what in fact motivates right action–so long as duty, and duty alone, in fact motivates. Thus, the ideal Kantian moral agent need not be a cold and unfeeling person, as some critics have suggested. Two objections to this view need to be answered. First, some maintain that motives cannot be present without in fact motivating. Such non-motivating reasons, it is claimed, are incoherent. Second, if such motives are not in fact motivating, then nonetheless the moral agent's performance of right action will be objectionably cold and unfeeling. While the first objection is not compelling, since the alternative according to which all motives in fact motivate but differ in strength suffers from the very same problems attributed to the neo-Kantian view, the second has force, and any account of moral worth must make room for motives such as sympathy actually motivating right action.
Keywords emotions  Barbara Herman  Immanuel Kant  moral motivation  moral worth  motive of duty  sympathy
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DOI 10.1007/s10892-006-9010-3
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