Donagan's Kant

Thomas E. Hill

in Respect, Pluralism, and Justice

Published in print March 2000 | ISBN: 9780198238348
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191597688 | DOI:
 Donagan's Kant

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Reviews at length Alan Donagan's Kantian ethical theory, as primarily expressed in his book, The Theory of Morality. Donagan's method of developing the theory by examining a tradition of Judeo‐Christian ethical beliefs is contrasted with Kant's method, which like Rousseau's, analyses relatively formal features of moral judgements to determine their basic presuppositions. Then, doubts are raised about Donagan's attempt to derive a list of strict substantive moral rules from the imperative to respect humanity. Arguably, at least in the Groundwork, Kant's idea that rational nature is an end in itself is a ‘thinner’, a more formal moral requirement than Donagan's. Thus interpreted, the idea makes the Kantian basic moral framework better able to serve as a guide for conflict resolution and conscientious judgement in a world of diverse values, moral disagreement, and uncertainty.

Keywords: Donagan; Groundwork; humanity; Kantian ethics; moral disagreement; respect; Rousseau

Chapter.  15238 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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