Balancing commitments: Own-happiness and beneficence

Contemporary Studies in Kantian Philosophy 2017 (2017)
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Abstract

There is a familiar problem in moral theories that recognize positive obligations to help others related to the practical room these obligations leave for ordinary life, and the risk that open-ended obligations to help others will consume our lives and resources. Responding to this problem, Kantians have tended to emphasize the idea of limits on positive obligations but are typically unsatisfactorily vague about the nature and extent of these limits. I argue here that aspects of Kant’s discussion of duties of virtue owed to ourselves suggest a useful metric we can use in discussing these limits and that generalizing this account and combining it with elements of Barbara Herman’s view, offers us an attractive model of moral deliberation with the resources we need to engage the critic’s challenge properly.

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Donald Wilson
Kansas State University

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