Kant's conception of Merit


It is standard to attribute to Kant the view that actions from motives other than duty deserve no positive moral evaluation. I argue that the standard view is mistaken. Kant's account of merit in the Metaphysics of Morals shows that he believes actions not performed from duty can be meritorious. Moreover, the grounds for attributing merit to an action are different from those for attributing moral worth to it. This is significant because it shows both that his views are reasonably consistent with our ordinary views, and that he recognized a variety of purposes in evaluating actions, many of which are not furthered by determining whether they were motivated by duty.

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Robert Johnson
University of Missouri, Columbia

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Citations of this work

Kant Does Not Deny Resultant Moral Luck.Robert J. Hartman - 2019 - Midwest Studies in Philosophy 43 (1):136-150.
Kant's Moral Philosophy.Robert N. Johnson - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Neither Justice nor Charity? Kant on ‘General Injustice’.Kate A. Moran - 2017 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 47 (4):477-498.
Kantian Ethical Duties.Faviola Rivera - 2006 - Kantian Review 11:78-101.

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