Making room for character -- Pluralism and the community of moral judgment -- A cosmopolitan kingdom of ends --Responsibility and moral competence --Can virtue be taught?: the problem of new moral facts -- Training to autonomy: Kant and the question of moral education -- Bootstrapping -- Rethinking Kant's hedonism -- The scope of moral requirement -- The will and its objects -- Obligatory ends -- Moral improvisation -- Contingency in obligation.
Richard Henson attempts to take the sting out of this view of Kant on moral worth by arguing (i) that attending to the phenomenon of the overdetermination of actions leads one to see that Kant might have had two distinct views of moral worth, only one of which requires the absence of cooperating inclinations, and (ii) that when Kant insists that there is moral worth only when an action is done from the motive of duty alone, he need not also (...) hold that such a state of affairs is morally better, all things considered, than one where supporting inclination is present. Henson's proposals seem to me both serious and plausible. I do not think that either of his models, in the end, can take on the role Kant assigns to moral worth in the argument of the Groundwork. But seeing the ways Henson's account diverges from Kant's makes clearer what Kant intended in his discussion of those actions he credits with moral worth. [...] An action has moral worth if it is required by duty and has as its primary motive the motive of duty. The motive of duty need not reflect the only interest the agent has in the action (or its effect); it must, however, be the interest that determines the agent's acting as he did. (shrink)
The Moral Habitat offers a new and systematic interpretation of Kant's moral and political philosophy. Herman introduces the idea of a moral habitat to examines the dynamic system of duties that exists between individuals and civic institutions.
Most of us have been brought up on the idea that moral theories divide as they are, at the root, either deontological or consequentialist. A new point of division has been emerging that places deontological and consequentialist theories together against theories of virtue, or a conception of morality constrained at the outset by the requirements of the “personal.” In a series of important essays Bernard Williams has offered striking arguments for the significance of the personal in moral thought based on (...) the role of integrity in human activity and character. His criticisms of both Kantian and utilitarian theories for their deep-seated tendencies to undermine the integrity of persons brings to a new level of seriousness and subtlety long-standing complaints against these theories—the invasive do-gooding of utilitarianism, the coldness and severity toward normal human concerns of Kantian theory. Although Williams is inclined to find the sources of the attack on integrity in these different features of the two traditional theories, in the end his complaint against both of them turns on their demand that the moral agent submit himself to the authority of impartial value. (shrink)
The essays in this volume offer an approach to the history of moral and political philosophy that takes its inspiration from John Rawls. All the contributors are philosophers who have studied with Rawls and they offer this collection in his honour. The distinctive feature of this approach is to address substantive normative questions in moral and political philosophy through an analysis of the texts and theories of major figures in the history of the subject: Aristotle, Hobbes, Hume, Rousseau, Kant and (...) Marx. By reconstructing the core of these theories in a way that is informed by contemporary theoretical concerns, the contributors show how the history of the subject is a resource for understanding present and perennial problems in moral and political philosophy. This outstanding collection will be of particular interest to historians of moral and political philosophy, historians of ideas, and political scientists. (shrink)
This paper began in the startled realization that little if anything is said in Kant’s ethics about the more violent forms of immoral action. There are discussions of lying, deception, self-neglect, nonbeneficence—but apart from suicide, a great silence about the darker actions. At the least, this should be an occasion for curiosity. Although the degree of concern with acts of violence in contemporary ethics may be in its own way curious, it does not seem unreasonable to expect a moral theory (...) to provide an account of what is wrong with acts of violence. (shrink)
If, as Kant says, "the will is practical reason", we should think of willing as a mode of reasoning, and its activity represented in movement from evaluative premises to intention by way of a validity-securing principle of inference. Such a view of willing takes motive and rational choice out of empirical psychology, thereby eliminating grounds for many familiar objections to Kant's account of morally good action. The categorical imperative provides the fundamental principle of valid practical inference; however, for good willing, (...) we also require correct premises. These come from specifications of the two obligatory ends - our own perfection and the happiness of others. Interpreting good willing as good reasoning not only fits well with Kant's metaphysics of free action, it also offers a sound method for reasoning to and about individual as well as role-dependent moral obligations. (shrink)
First published in 1990. The aim of this thesis is to show that the way to understand the central claims of Kant’s ethics is to accept the idea that morality is a distinctive form of rationality; that the moral "ought" belongs to a system of imperatives based in practical reason; and that moral judgment, therefore, is a species of rational assessment of agents’ actions. It argues, in effect, that you cannot understand Kant’s views about morality if you read him with (...) Humean assumptions about rationality. This title will be of interest to students of philosophy. (shrink)
It is common to find moral fault for doing less than one should, but not for doing more. A detailed investigation of some examples of “doing too much” reveals an important sphere of wrong-doing related to abuses of authority and discretion.
In response to critical discussions of my book, Moral Literacy, by Stephen Engstrom, Sally Sedgwick and Andrews Reath, I offer a defence of Kant's formalism that is not only friendly to my claims for the moral theory's sensitivity to a wide range of moral phenomena and practices at the ground level, but also consistent with Kant's high rationalist ambitions.
This volume collects ten essays investigating some fundamental aspects of Kant's ethics, drawing wider conclusions for moral philosophy. Herman aims to undermine some received ideas about how Kantian ethics works and what it means in practice.