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2004 | 13 | 4(52) | 167-182
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Kant and the Problem of Moral Motivation

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The problem of moral motivation, or speaking more generally, the question, why we should follow demands of 'pure reason' rather than inclinations 'contingent nature', is of an essential importance to those who seem not to be satisfied with Kant,s approach to practical philosophy. But their position, most elequently expressed in the philosophy found in English language publications, is rather simplistic and it tends to separate the question of conflicting claims of reason and nature from the rest of Kant's philosophy. Thus despite the fact that Kant's ethics has enjoyed a renewed interest in analytic philosophy recently, it is typically subordinated to other ethical positions, such as utilitarianism, expressivism, a theory of virtues (Aristotelian or Humean), or various anti-theoretic forms of particularism. Proponents of these theories go in the footsteps of Foot, Williams, McDowell or Blackburn and reject all kinds of moral theories that resemble Kant's ethics too closely. It seems consequently necessary to venture beyond the proper field of Kant's scholarship when one wants to reach wider public. Which in turn means that it is advisable to raise a more general question: What issues should be included in every perspicuous and reliable moral theory? The author starts to discuss this problem in a neutral language (part one) in order to be able to defend Kant against most common objections (part two) to his ethics, then he reconstructs Kant's theory of motivation (part three) by pointing to some salient features of that theory which unfortunately has been either neglected or overlooked.
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  • K. Ameriks, University of Notre Dame, Department of Philosophy, Notre Dame, IN 46556, USA
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