Kantian Accounts of Worth

Samuel Fleischacker

in Divine Teaching and the Way of the World

Published in print April 2011 | ISBN: 9780199217366
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191728495 | DOI:
Kantian Accounts of Worth

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One general and philosophical account of worth deserves a chapter of its own: the Kantian view that rationality makes our lives worth living. This is perhaps the most powerful account of the worth of life in modern times—the modern equivalent of Plato’s and Aristotle’s accounts—so if it fails, the prospects for a secular account of worth will look dim. Various versions of it (Kant’s own as well as Christine Korsgaard’s) are here examined. It is argued that, while Kant is right to say that rationality is a necessary condition for life to be worth living, rationality is not sufficient to give life any worth. Instead, whatever gives life worth must be something we can love. The chapter ends by suggesting that a reflective love is the appropriate subjective criterion for an adequate account of life’s worth: and one that no modern secular account is likely to meet.

Keywords: Kant; Korsgaard; rationality; reflective love; Aristotle; Plato

Chapter.  11942 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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