Personal Values and Setting Oneself Ends

Thomas E. Hill

in Human Welfare and Moral Worth

Published in print July 2002 | ISBN: 9780199252633
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191597695 | DOI:
Personal Values and Setting Oneself Ends

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The focus here is on what individuals value and pursue when considered apart from moral considerations. Personal values are contrasted with various kinds of moral values, but the central question is whether having the former commits one to the latter. Textual evidence casts doubt on the recently popular thesis that, in Kant's view, in setting ends (and adopting maxims) agents thereby express (or take on) a rational commitment to the objective goodness of their ends and acts. Unfortunately, influential Kantian arguments (notably, by Christine Korsgaard and Allen Wood) seem to use that dubious thesis to argue that even minimally rational agents are rationally committed to moral standards. A further troublesome issue considered here is whether, independently of debates about free will, Kant's idea that we “set ends” as an “act of freedom” implies an untenable voluntarism about how we come to have our basic goals.

Keywords: Kant; Korsgaard; maxims; moral values; personal values; rational agents; setting ends; voluntarism; Allen Wood

Chapter.  15238 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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