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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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Moral Motivation

Moral Motivation

(p.167) 6 Moral Motivation
Kant's Theory of Action

Richard McCarty

Oxford University Press

The feeling of respect for the moral law is the moral incentive capable of explaining actions on moral principles, “from duty alone”. It is the psychologically forceful motive of duty. Actions have “moral worth” when produced by this motive. But they are not “virtuous” actions. Moral worth and virtue are different categories of moral appraisal of actions, with different criteria. So it is possible to act in a way that is morally worthy and lacking in virtue, and to act in a way that is virtuous and lacking in moral worth. In Kant's ethics we are obligated to cultivate certain virtuous feelings, so that these, when sufficiently strong as motive forces, can prevail over other motives. We are obligated also to cultivate the feeling of respect for law.

Keywords:   feeling of respect, moral incentive, duty, motive of duty, virtue, moral worth

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