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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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Evil Nature, Good Will

Evil Nature, Good Will

(p.201) 7 Evil Nature, Good Will
Kant's Theory of Action

Richard McCarty

Oxford University Press

The “radical evil” of human nature is, in Kant's view, our enduring predisposition to deviate from the moral law. It comes in three degrees: frailty (moral weakness), impurity, and depravity (wickedness). We are evil in these ways by an act of free choice antecedent to moral experience, in the intelligible world. In this world we can make progress in combating radical evil by strengthening our moral resolve. Our being evil by nature does not preclude our having a good will, however. In Kant's view a good will is universal. It is our common “predisposition to personality”, our tendency to feel respect for the moral law, and the basis of our human dignity. Acting on that incentive gives an action “moral worth”.

Keywords:   radical evil, human nature, weakness of will, moral progress, good will, moral worth, dignit

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