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Kant's Theory of Action$
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Richard McCarty

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199567720

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199567720.001.0001

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Acting on Maxims

Acting on Maxims

(p.1) 1 Acting on Maxims
Kant's Theory of Action

Richard McCarty

Oxford University Press

Maxims are traditionally understood as major premises of the practical syllogism, or of practical reasoning. In maxims, objects to be brought about by action are represented as “good”. As rationalist thinkers traditionally understood desires, these also are representations of object as “good”. Hence, maxims are a species of desires. Imperatives, which justify actions by indicating how we ought to act, are derived from maxims through practical reasoning. The problem of justification and explanation is the challenge to show how actions justified by practical reasoning from maxims can also be explained by those maxims.

Keywords:   maxim, practical syllogism, practical reasoning, good, desire, imperative, justification, explanation

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