Morality and Practical Reason:

Stephen Darwall

Edited by David Copp

in The Oxford Handbook of Ethical Theory

Published in print December 2005 | ISBN: 9780195147797
Published online February 2006 | e-ISBN: 9780199785841 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Morality and Practical Reason:

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A central theme of Kant’s approach to moral philosophy is that moral obligations are categorical, by which he means that they provide supremely authoritative reasons for acting independently of an agent’s ends or interests. Kant argues that this is a reflection of our distinctive freedom or autonomy, as he calls it, as moral agents. A less, well- appreciated aspect of the Kantian picture of morality and respect for the dignity of each individual person is the idea of reciprocal accountability, that moral agents are mutually responsible for their treatment of one another. Viewing Kant’s ethics from this second-person standpoint opens up a line of thought that promises to vindicate the Kantian idea that moral obligations are categorical imperatives.

Keywords: moral obligation; autonomy; freedom; moral agent; accountability; categorical imperatives; second-person standpoint; respect; dignity

Chapter.  19489 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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