Kantian Review 23 (3):379-397 (2018)

Jens Timmermann
University of St. Andrews
Is Kant’s ethical theory too demanding? Do its commands ask too much of us, either by calling for self-sacrifice on particular occasions, or by pervading our lives to the extent that there is no room for permissible action? In this article, I argue that Kant’s ethics is very demanding, but not excessively so. The notion of ‘latitude’ does not help. But we need to bear in mind that moral laws are self-imposed and cannot be externally enforced; that ‘right action’ is not a category of Kantian ethics – there is a more and a less, and lack of perfection does not entail vice; and that only practice makes perfect, i.e. how much virtue can realistically be expected can vary from agent to agent. The principle that ‘ought’ is limited by ‘can’ is firmly entrenched in Kant’s ethical thought.
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DOI 10.1017/s1369415418000201
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References found in this work BETA

Famine, Affluence, and Morality.Peter Singer - 1972 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 1 (3):229-243.
Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals.Immanuel Kant - 1996 - In Practical Philosophy. Cambridge University Press. pp. 37-108.
Whether and Where to Give.Theron Pummer - 2016 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 44 (1):77-95.
Kantian Dilemmas? Moral Conflict in Kant’s Ethical Theory.Jens Timmermann - 2013 - Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie 95 (1):36-64.

View all 13 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Kant and the Demandingness of the Virtue of Beneficence.Paul Formosa & Martin Sticker - 2019 - European Journal of Philosophy 27 (3):625-642.
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Recent Work on Freedom in Kant.Joe Saunders - 2021 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 29 (6):1177-1189.

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