As analysis of Kant’s account of virtue in the Lectures on Ethics shows that Kant thinks of virtue as a form of moral self-mastery or self-command
that represents a model of self-governance he compares to an
autocracy. In light of the fact that the very concept of virtue presupposes
struggle and conflict, Kant insists that virtue is distinct from holiness and
that any ideal of moral perfection that overlooks the fact that morality is
always difficult for us fails to provide an appropriate model of human virtue.
No matter how morally good we are or become, virtue remains a disposition
to do one’s duty from duty, out of necessitation by practical reason. Yet,
even though finite rational beings require a power of self-constraint in
accordance with the commands of duty to comply with the law (which
we obey reluctantly), the virtuous agent displays a unified soul that is at
peace. This picture of virtue uncovered from the Lectures on Ethics thus
reveals the way in which Kant’s conception of virtue accords with his
foundational commitments in his moral theory, while at the same time
representing a more complex theory of moral character and a life lived in
accordance with practical reason.