Action from duty but not in accord with duty

Ethics 93 (2):283-290 (1982)
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Abstract

In thc Foundations, Kant draws a distinction bctwccn action which is in accord with duty and action which is done from the motive of duty. This is 21 famous distinction, of course, and thcrc arc many interesting issues concerning it and its implications for ethical thcory. In this paper, I wish t0 focus on just 0nc noteworthy feature of K2mt’s usc of this distinction. Likc any distinction bctwccn logical compatiblcs, this 0nc yields four logically possible classes of action: (1) actions which are both in accord with duty and from duty; (2) actions which arc neither from duty nor in accord with duty; (3) actions which are in accord with duty but not from duty; and (4) actions which are from duty but not in accord with duty. What intcrcsts mc about these four possibilities is that, to thc best of my knowledge, Kant never considers or even mentions the last 0f these possibilities: action from duty but not in accord with duty. This is perhaps surprising in a philosopher with Kant’s intcrcst in logic and passion for thoroughness. Onc would have thought that hc would mention this logical possibility, cvcn if only in order to discount it as not really possible. Beginning with the idea that there arc cases of action from duty but not in accord with duty, I argue in this paper that Kant could not have admitted that thcrc can be actions of this kind, for their cxistcncc un-.

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John Hardwig
University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Citations of this work

Nonaccidental Rightness and the Guise of the Objectively Good.Samuel J. M. Kahn - forthcoming - Journal of Early Modern Studies:Vol. 13, Issue 2, 2024.
Kant’s theory of conscience.Samuel J. M. Kahn - 2015 - In Muchnik Pablo & Thorndike Oliver (eds.), Rethinking Kant: Volume IV. Cambridge Scholars Publishing. pp. 135-156.
Impermissibility and Kantian Moral Worth.Jill Graper Hernandez - 2010 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 13 (4):403-419.

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