Chapter

Is the Good Will Reading Just Too Hard to Swallow?

Richard Dean

in The Value of Humanity in Kant's Moral Theory

Published in print May 2006 | ISBN: 9780199285723
Published online September 2006 | e-ISBN: 9780191603938 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0199285721.003.0005
 Is the Good Will Reading Just Too Hard to Swallow?

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Despite the evidence for the good will reading of the humanity formulation, many readers will find it unpalatable. It may seem that if good will is the end in itself, then the humanity formulation allows the abuse of many humans who are insufficiently committed to morality. But Kant’s own account of a complete system of duties, or a metaphysics of morals, implies that all typical humans must be treated as if they are ends in themselves, even if some lack good wills. Kant actually provides several reasons for this, including that others’ moral character cannot be accurately discerned, that people are prone to elevate their own self-worth in comparison to others, that treating immoral people with disrespect will discourage them from reforming themselves, and that abusing any humans will likely decrease someone’s respect for all humans. Furthermore, given a proper understanding of good will, there is no reason to think good wills are a rarity among humans.

Keywords: end in itself; good will; humanity formulation; metaphysics of morals; moral character; respect

Chapter.  7274 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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