3 - Acting from duty: inclination, reason and moral worth  pp. 45-62

Acting from duty: inclination, reason and moral worth

By Jens Timmermann

Chapter Abstract

In Groundwork I, Immanuel Kant wants to disclose the nature of duty, and ultimately its law. That is the reason why the celebrated case of the prudent merchant is 'set aside' (G IV 397). The requirement that the maxim of the moral agent produce right actions non-contingently and independently of his motivational state may yet seem to allow for the possibility that dutiful action must be done for duty's sake if and only if there is no concurrent inclination that is sufficiently strong to motivate the dutiful deed. Kant is systematically developing the theme of the incorruptible, sturdy and self-reliant nature of morality grounded solely in practical reason, as opposed to the fickle and unpredictable support actions that accord with duty may hope to receive from inclination. Kant's dualistic conception of human volition has important philosophical consequences. Ultimately, Kantian ethics concerns the quality of an agent's moral character.


Groundwork; practical reason; concurrent inclination; Immanuel Kant; prudent merchant; dutiful act; morality; human volition; moral law;


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