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How Should One Live?Essays on the Virtues$
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Roger Crisp

Print publication date: 1998

Print ISBN-13: 9780198752349

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0198752342.001.0001

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Kant's Virtues

Kant's Virtues

(p.77) 5 Kant's Virtues
How Should One Live?

Onora O'Neill

Oxford University Press

Kant's ethics is often but wrongly criticized for neglecting the virtues or offering a poor account of them. He in fact offers a rich and careful account, and a plausible reading of his theory of action shows that it is neither too inward nor too individualistic. In particular, maxims of virtue are ‘not objects of introspection’ (Kant denies that we have adequate self‐knowledge) and ‘not constructed by ascription’ (their relation to action is too indeterminate). Rather, Kant sees maxims of virtue as ‘prescriptions’, which can be used to guide virtuous action, but may provide no way of showing whether virtue has been achieved.

Keywords:   Kant, Kantian ethics, maxims, theory of action, virtue, virtue ethics

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