Kant, Duty and Moral Worth
Routledge – 2004 – 168 pages
Kant, Duty and Moral Worth is a fascinating and original examination of Kant's account of moral worth. The complex debate at the heart of Kant's philosophy is over whether Kant said moral actions have worth only if they are carried out from duty, or whether actions carried out from mixed motives can be good. Philip Stratton-Lake offers a unique account of acting from duty, which utilizes the distinction between primary and secondary motives. He maintains that the moral law should not be understood as a normative moral reason but as playing a transcendental role. Thus a Kantian account of moral worth is one where the virtuous agent may be responsive to concrete particular considerations, whilst preserving an essential role for universal moral principles.
Kant, Duty and Moral Worth is a lucid examination of Kant's moral thought that will appeal to Kant scholars and anyone interested in moral theory.
'A sure-footed and elegant argument … that he is able to cover so much ground, exegetical and philosophical, in this relatively short work is one mark of the elegance of the sustained argument he makes.' - Philosophical Quarterly
'This book will surely be mandatory reading for anyone interested in the foundations of Kant's moral theory.' - Kant-Studien
1. Doing the right thing just because it is right. 2. Respect and moral motivation. 3. Acting from respect for the moral law. 4. An alternative account of acting from duty. 5. Filling out the details: Ross's theory of prima facie duties. 6. On the value of acting out of duty. 7. Constructivism, side-constraints, and autonomy. 8. Conclusion: Absolutely universal principles and context sensitivity
Philip Stratton-Lake is senior lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Reading. He is the editor of Ethical Intuitionism: Re-evaluations (Clarendon, 2002); the new edition of W.D. Ross's classic of 20th Century philosophy The Right and the Good (Clarendon, 2002); and On What We Owe to Each Other (Blackwell, forthcoming).