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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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(p.31) 2 Incentives
Kant's Theory of Action

Richard McCarty

Oxford University Press

Kant's concept of incentives is the key to solving the problem of justification and explanation. The “incorporation” of incentives into the maxims that justify actions enables them also to explain actions. Incentives have both objective and subjective dimensions: they refer to objects of desire, and they are also subjective motive forces, with the power to explain actions. As psychological forces, incentives can be identified with “practical pleasures”. They can be either sense-based (stimuli) or intellect-based (motiva). The greater the practical pleasure the stronger the incentive, and so the stronger its action-explaining, motive force. Moral weakness of will is weakness in the intellect-based moral incentive, compared with sense-based inclination.

Keywords:   maxim, incorporation, practical pleasure, motive force, weakness of will

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