Meeting Needs and Doing Favors

Thomas E. Hill

in Human Welfare and Moral Worth

Published in print July 2002 | ISBN: 9780199252633
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191597695 | DOI:
Meeting Needs and Doing Favors

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This essay, responding to recent work of David Cummiskey and Barcia Baron, defends the thesis that imperfect duty of beneficence in Kant's The Metaphysics of Morals is a rather minimal, indeterminate requirement but must be supplemented by judgement guided by the values expressed in Kant's formulas of the Categorical Imperative. So understood, Kant's ethics is neither as permissive nor as inflexibly demanding as various commentators have thought. Although Kant does not acknowledge supererogation as a moral category, arguably his position implies that some acts are meritorious and more than required.

Keywords: Barcia Baron; beneficence; Categorical Imperative; David Cummiskey; imperfect duty; Kant's ethics; supererogation

Chapter.  20859 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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