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On What MattersVolume Two$
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Derek Parfit

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199572816

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780199572816.001.0001

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A Mismatch of Methods

A Mismatch of Methods

(p.83) A Mismatch of Methods
On What Matters

Barbara Herman

Oxford University Press

This chapter talks about the book's hybrid theory of morality, or at least of the part of morality that tells us which acts are wrong. The theory is elaborated by way of an extended and inventive critical reconstruction of Immanuel Kant's ethics as a kind of contractualism. What makes it hybrid is the conjunction of the contractualist framework with an account of value that is for the most part concerned with outcome effects on well-being. This chapter comments on the hybrid methodological approach to understanding the ambitions of Kant's moral theory, which it argues is anything but hybrid. Given that the defining feature of Kant's theory is that goodness is a function of — and not independent of — moral principle, it challenges the book's revisionary interpretive project, which aims to elicit the best in Kant's ethics by evaluating and revising its claims in terms of non-moral good outcomes. More specifically, the chapter argues that the project does not capture what is most distinctive about Kant's theory; the mismatch of methods is too profound.

Keywords:   morality, Immanuel Kant, ethics, contractualism, value, well-being, moral theory, goodness

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