Kant on Moral Sensibility and Moral Motivation

Journal of the History of Philosophy 52 (4):727-746 (2014)
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Abstract
Despite Kant’s lasting influence on philosophical accounts of moral motivation, many details of his own position remain elusive. In the Critique of Practical Reason, for example, Kant argues that our recognition of the moral law’s authority must elicit both painful and pleasurable feelings in us. On reflection, however, it is unclear how these effects could motivate us to act from duty. As a result, Kant’s theory of moral sensibility comes under a skeptical threat: the possibility of a morally motivating feeling seems incoherent. My aim in this paper is to reconstruct Kant’s theory in a way that overcomes this threat. By way of conclusion, I show how my reconstruction brings a new perspective to a long-standing dispute over intellectualist and affectivist views of moral motivation.
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