A Funeral March for Those Drowning in Shallow Ponds?: Imperfect Duties and Emergencies

Kant Studien 110 (2):236-255 (2019)
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I discuss the problem that Kant’s ethics seems to be incapable of capturing our strong intuition that emergencies create a context for actions that is very different from other cases of helping and from other opportunities to further obligatory ends. I argue that if we pay attention to how Kant grounds beneficence we see that distress and emergency function as constitutive concerns. They are vital to establishing the duty of beneficence in the first place, and they also guide the application of duties to specific cases. Kant’s conception of imperfect duties to others, when understood correctly, offers a way to understand why emergencies are morally important, but also why other factors have a place in our moral reasoning.



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Martin Sticker
University of Bristol

Citations of this work

Kant and the demandingness of the virtue of beneficence.Paul Formosa & Martin Sticker - 2019 - European Journal of Philosophy 27 (3):625-642.
Poverty, Exploitation, Mere Things and Mere Means.Martin Sticker - 2021 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 26 (2):1-17.
Universal Law and Poverty Relief.Oliver Sensen - 2022 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 26 (2):177-190.

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