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Respect as Awareness of Rational Nature: A Modified Intellectualist View of Kant's Moral Psychology


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RESPECT AS AWARENESS OF RATIONAL NATURE: A MODIFIED INTELLECTUALIST VIEW OF K ANTS MORAL PSYCHOLOGY By CHING-E NOBEL ANG A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLOR IDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2004

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Copyright 2004 by Ching-E Nobel Ang

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To my friends everywhere

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I am greatly indebted to my advisor, Assistant Professor Crystal Thorpe, for her unstinting patience in our many discussions, listening to my many less than well-formed ideas and helping me to formulate them into coherent arguments. Many thanks to Associate Professor John Palmer, whose incisive comments and penetrating insights have often helped me to articulate thoughts that I could not otherwise have given voice to. Many thanks to Assistant Professor Jon Tresan, whose critical Humean intuitions added an invaluable perspective in my writing of this thesis. I thank my fellow Buddhists in the Gainesville chapter of the Soka Gakkai International USA (SGI-USA), whose non-academic spiritual support and friendship have proven to be an invaluable source of strength through the many peaks and valleys of the writing process. I am especially indebted to Professor Ken Saragosa of the Soka University of America, Aliso Viejo, for his friendship and unstinting support. A debt of gratitude is also owed to Danielle Ellickson, in whom I always find fresh courage and strength to press on, sometimes in the most unexpected ways. Last but not least, I also express my gratitude to my parents, family and friends back in Singapore, who are always in my thoughts. iv

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TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS.................................................................................................iv ABSTRACT......................................................................................................................vii CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION........................................................................................................1 2 THE INTELLECTUALIST VIEW............................................................................10 2.1 A Preliminary Outline of My Modified Intellectualist View............................10 2.2 A Preliminary Outline of the Standard Intellectualist Position, As Articulated by Reath and Allison.....................................................................11 2.3 Inconsistencies Between Reaths Reading and the Texts.................................13 2.4 How Respect for the Moral Law Wins Over Opposing Inclinations, Bringing About Moral Action..........................................................................15 2.4.1 The Nature of Inclinations, and How They Influence Choice.........16 2.4.2 How the Moral Law Checks Inclinations.........................................19 2.5 Apprehension of Value of Moral Maxim Identified as the Awareness of Absolute Value of Rational Nature ...............................................................22 2.6 Awareness of Rational Nature as Giving Rise to a Rational, Action-guiding Compulsion or Feeling of Respect, Which Motivates Moral Action.........29 2.7 Interim Summary..............................................................................................32 2.8 The Possibility of Being Motivated by Awareness of Rational Nature............35 2.9 Alleged Moral Weakness of Will as Lapse of Rationality................................37 3 THE AFFECTIVIST VIEW.......................................................................................40 3.1 A Preliminary Outline of the Affectivist View.................................................40 3.2 Textual Support for the Affectivist Reading.....................................................45 3.3 Apparent Strengths of the Affectivist Reading.................................................48 3.4 Difficulties with the Affectivist Reading..........................................................51 3.4.1 Difficulties Associated With Autonomy and Willful Disobedience to the Moral Law...........................................................................51 3.4.2 More Fundamental Worries.............................................................55 3.5 Conclusion........................................................................................................59 v

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APPENDIX LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS OF KANTS WORKS USED IN THIS THESIS.......................................................................................................................61 LIST OF REFERENCES...................................................................................................62 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH.............................................................................................63 vi

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Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts RESPECT AS AWARENESS OF RATIONAL NATURE: A MODIFIED INTELLECTUALIST READING OF KANTS MORAL PSYCHOLOGY By Ching-E Nobel Ang August, 2004 Chair: Crystal Thorpe Major Department: Philosophy Anyone who has undertaken even a cursory study of Kants moral philosophy eventually has to confront the question: How can an abstract moral law move the imperfectly rational human will to moral action? It is generally agreed that Kants notion of respect plays a central role in his account of moral motivation. While the central role of respect in Kantian moral motivation is uncontroversial, the further question of how such motivation by respect occurs is the source of debate. In their answers to this question, commentators are divided into two camps. Staying true to Kants insistence that moral motivation is a purely rational process independent of any affective feelings, the intellectualists hold that apprehension of the moral law is by itself sufficient to motivate moral action. The affectivists agree with the intellectualists that moral motivation begins with the rational apprehension of the moral law. However, they argue that a subsequent affective feeling arises from this initial apprehension, and it is the vii

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inclinational strength of this feeling vis--vis that of opposing nonmoral inclinations that is decisive in determining whether moral action results. My view is that the intellectualist reading, in keeping with Kants insistence that moral motivation is purely a rational matter, represents the more credible account of Kantian moral motivation. Such a reading, however, is not without difficulty, for it is somewhat mysterious how a purely rational conception can motivate one to action. I argue that apprehension of the moral law can be identified with the agents awareness of the absolute value of rational nature. I will also show that, for Kant, rational nature is central to our personhood. Insofar as rational nature is central to our personhood, then, awareness of this nature should by itself be sufficient to motivate us to undertake moral action to preserve and promote it, whatever the fickle orientation of our affective feelings. Therefore, insofar as we are rational, awareness of rational nature gives rise to an irresistible non-affective compulsion to undertake moral action. While it may still be somewhat mysterious how such a rational compulsion could move one to moral action, I argue that my modified intellectualist reading, in analyzing respect as awareness of rational nature, represents such a motivational process as being a systematic expression of Kants fundamental convictions about personhood. As such, my reading is to be regarded as a credible representation of Kants moral psychology. viii

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CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION My aim in this thesis is to show that, in Kant, motivation to moral action springs from the agents awareness of the absolute value of rational nature. This awareness gives rise to a rational compulsion which motivates the agent to moral action, insofar as she is rational. I seek to achieve this aim by showing that the Kantian notion of respect, which is widely held to play a central role in Kantian moral motivation, can ultimately be understood as consisting of two components: the cognitive awareness of the absolute value of rational nature as an end-in-itself, and the action-guiding, rational compulsion arising from such awareness. One may ask: why single out awareness of rational nature as an end-in-itself as playing such a motivational role? In order to answer this question, I shall have to relate briefly my own, somewhat unorthodox reading of Kants Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals. I believe that it is plausible to see the Grounding as being directed to the moral skeptic, or someone who does not believe that moral claims are valid. 1 On this reading, Kant may be seen as trying to demonstrate that moral commands are both binding and universally valid to a reader who is not already disposed to think this the case. On such a reading, the various formulations of the Categorical Imperative are not merely different representations of the commands issuing from the moral law. Besides elucidating the commands of the moral law, they can also be seen as attempting to convince the skeptical 1 I am not saying that this is all there is to moral skepticism. It is possible to be a moral skeptic in many other ways: one could, for instance, hold that there are no moral values, rather than deny the validity of moral claims. For the purposes of my illustration, I have focused on only one kind of moral skeptic. 1

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2 reader that moral commands are binding. Thus Kant begins by putting forth the first two Universal Law formulations of the Categorical Imperative (at Gr. 402 and Gr. 420-1), 2 essentially attempting to explain to the reader that moral transgressions are unacceptable because they result in contradictions of conceptions and willing, and that, in order to avoid such contradictions, one should act from the motive of duty. The third formulation of the Categorical Imperative, the formula of the End in Itself, can be seen, in such a context, as picking up where the first two formulations left off. Contradictions in conception and willing ought not to be committed, Kant can be seen to argue, because such contradictions, more than being just violations of a certain law, ultimately degrade rational nature both in oneself and in other rational beings. Kant holds that rationality is essential to personhood (Gr. 428); to do things that degrade rational nature is, therefore, to degrade something central to ones nature as a person. There are, admittedly, moves that the skeptic may make to escape Kants argument here. He may try to argue for a form of egoism, claiming that only rational nature in his own person has value, and that other individuals exist only to preserve and promote rational nature in his own person. He may also dispute Kants claim of the centrality of rationality to personhood. That the skeptic has to resort to such drastic moves, however, is an indication of the compellingness that awareness of the value of rational nature possesses as a claim that moral commands are binding. 2 This and all subsequent quotations from and references to the Grounding (hereafter simply abbreviated as Gr.) are from James W. Ellingtons translation of Kants Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals (Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Co., 1993).

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3 I do not mean to say, of course, that the moral law represented as universal law and morality as regard for rational nature are somehow separate. Kant famously alludes at the end of the Critique of Practical Reason to the starry heavens above me and the moral law within me (KPV 161). 3 The moral law is described as being within because it pertains to something internal to myself as a person: it is the law that governs how rational nature in myselfand, by extension, in other personsshould be treated, so as to accord to my own person (and others) the respect that rational nature properly deserves. Thus, to obey the moral law is ultimately to act to preserve and promote rational nature in both my own person and those of others. This offers further support for my thesis, for if action from the commands of the moral law is ultimately action undertaken in order to accord some kind of respect to rational nature, then it seems more than plausible that when Kant speaks of moral actions being motivated by respect for the moral law, he is in fact referring to actions motivated by a certain regard or awareness of the value of rational nature. Although the Kantian notion of respect is central to understanding Kants moral psychology and, by extension, his moral philosophy as a whole, the amount of work done on this subject in recent years has been relatively small. Recent work in this area has been done by Andrews Reath, Henry Allison, Richard McCarty, and Lewis White Beck. These commentators focus on the question of how respect is supposed to move the agent to moral action. Their views on this question broadly divide into two camps. The intellectualists (Reath and Allison) hold that the conscious apprehension of the moral law 3 This and all subsequent quotations from the Critique of Practical Reason (hereafter KPV) are taken from Lewis White Becks translation of Kants Critique of Practical Reason (Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall, 1993).

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4 by the will is by itself sufficient to move the agent to undertake moral action. The affectivists (McCarty and Beck), 4 on the other hand, hold that an affective element is needed in addition to the initial rational apprehension of the moral law, in order for moral action to result. While agreeing with the intellectualists that the Kantian moral motivational process begins with a cognitive apprehension of the moral laws value, the affectivists argue that moral action takes place only because, from this initial apprehension of the moral laws value, an affective feeling arises (which the affectivists identify with what Kant terms the moral feeling) which serves to move the will towards moral action at the moment of moral choice, winning over opposing inclinations in a contest of inclinational strength. I consider my position an intellectualist one, insofar as the awareness of rational nature as an end-in-itself, and the rational compulsion arising from such awareness, are rational conceptions which are sufficient by themselves to motivate the agent to undertake moral action, without recourse to any affective feelings. I shall name my position the modified intellectualist reading/account, to distinguish it from intellectualist readings advanced by Reath and Allison, which I shall refer to as the standard intellectualist reading. This is primarily for the purpose of distinguishing their reading from mine. However, since there are no other recent proponents of the intellectualist reading, naming the Reath/Allison position the standard intellectualist reading is perhaps less inappropriate than might at first be thought. 4 Lewis White Beck is an affectivist in a somewhat qualified sense. While he recognizes that respect consists of an affective element, and gives an insightful analysis of this element in his commentary on the second Critique, he seems at best ambivalent about the motivational role of this affective element. For more details, see Lewis White Beck, A Commentary on Kants Critique of Practical Reason (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1960), pp. 209-36.

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5 In this thesis, I will argue that the intellectualists are right in holding that Kantian respect is to be understood as a purely rational representation, one that has no need of any affective feeling (not even a moral feeling subsequent to the rational apprehension of the moral laws value) in motivating the will towards moral action. While agreeing with the standard intellectualist position on this account, I also argue that this position, as articulated by Reath and Allison, inadequately explains how such rational apprehension motivates the will towards moral action. Specifically, I will show that the standard intellectualist position fails to demonstrate that this rational apprehension is capable of doing both the cognitive work of enabling the agent to understand the higher value of the moral maxim, and the action-guiding task of moving the will to adopt the moral maxim and undertake moral action. I argue that such apprehensionwhich, I will show, is ultimately to be identified with the awareness of the absolute value of rational naturedoes not by itself move the agent to moral action. Reath has dismissed the feeling of respect as being merely the negative sensation of pain arising from the moral laws thwarting of inclinations. I argue that this feeling is actually a rational compulsion arising from the awareness of rational nature, and plays the action-guiding role of motivating the agent towards moral action. While intellectualist accounts have the merit of staying true to Kants insistence that moral motivation is a purely rational process that has nothing to do with feelings, attempts to explain how moral motivation can result from purely rational considerations are inevitably fraught with difficulty. My modified intellectualist account is no exception. What I attempt to do, however, is to show that this difficulty lies at the very heart of Kants moral philosophy and, indeed, his very conception of what it means to be a

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6 person. It may be mysterious how awareness of rational nature moves one to moral action. But, insofar as we agree with Kant that rationality is central to our sense of ourselves as persons, this centrality tends to make plausible and even compelling the idea that the mere consideration of how we might preserve and promote this thing so central to ourselves can move us to action, even if we do not know the exact mechanism by which this occurs. I will argue for my reading via several steps. I will begin with a careful exposition of the standard intellectualist view, as held by Reath and Allison. This standard intellectualist view will be represented in schemas II and IIa. I will point out the inadequacies of this view and put forward my own, modified intellectualist reading in the process. My reading will be represented in schemas I and Ia. Having articulated my modified intellectualist reading and shown how it remedies the inadequacies of the standard intellectualist reading, I will then turn to an exposition and examination of the affectivist view, as put forward by Richard McCarty, representing it in schema III. I will point out the inadequacies of such a view in dealing with certain important issues in Kantian moral motivation and show that my modified intellectualist reading can respond to the concerns motivating the affectivist reading without succumbing to its problems. For the sake of convenience, I have included, on the following three pages, diagrammatic synopses of the various expository schemas employed in this thesis. They will be fully explained in what follows.

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7 The standard intellectualist view Schema II Respect = Apprehension of moral law (both cognitive and action-guiding) | | | leads to | | Being motivated to perform moral action Accompanied by: Sensuous feeling of pain/Feeling of respect Schema IIa Respect = Apprehension of moral maxim (both cognitive and action-guiding) | |leads to | Value of moral maxim > Value of maxim founded on inclination | |leads to | Moral maxim adopted by will | | leads to | Being motivated to perform moral action Accompanied by: Sensuous feeling of pain/Feeling of respect

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8 The modified intellectualist view Schema I Respect = 1. Apprehension of the higher value of the moral law (cognitive aspect) and 2. Feeling of respect (action-guiding aspect) | | | leads to | | Being motivated to perform moral action Schema Ia Respect = 1. Awareness of the absolute value of rational nature (cognitive) and 2. Rational compulsion or feeling of respect (action-guiding) | |leads to | Being motivated to perform moral action to preserve and further rational nature

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9 The affectivist view Schema III Respect = Recognition of moral law = 1. Apprehension of higher value of moral maxim (Wille) (cognitive) | |causes | 2. Affective moral feeling/Determination of subjective choice (Willkr) (action-guiding) | |leads to | Contest of strength between affective moral feeling and inclinations | |if outcome of contest is: | Affective moral feeling stronger than inclinations | | |leads to | | Being motivated to perform moral action

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CHAPTER 2 THE INTELLECTUALIST VIEW 2.1 A Preliminary Outline of My Modified Intellectualist View In a famous footnote at Gr. 401n., in what is perhaps the single most comprehensive list of the different properties that respect possesses, we find Kant giving three varying descriptions of respect. Kant first characterizes respect as a feeling . self-produced by means of a rational concept, . specifically distinct from all feelings of the first kind, which can all be reduced to inclination or fear. Secondly, he describes it as [t]he immediate determination of the will by the law, and the consciousness thereof. Thirdly, he states that it is the representation of a worth that thwarts my self-love. These characterizations suggest that there are two aspects to respect, one cognitive and one action-guiding. The first characterization above indicates that respect is a very special kind of feeling, an action-guiding element which motivates the agent to undertake moral action; yet, being a feeling which is self-produced by means of a rational concept, it cannot be reduced to inclination, fear, or any of the sensuous affections which we normally take to be feelings. Respect thus has this feeling aspect which is action-guiding, even if it is not clear at this point what the exact nature of this feeling is. Looking at the second and third characterizations gives us the other aspect of respect. These describe respect as a consciousness of being directly moved by the moral law and an awareness of the value which the moral law possesses, a value which thwarts my self-love. These characterizations indicate that respect possesses a cognitive aspect, 10

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11 which consists in the agents apprehending and becoming conscious of the commands of the moral law and the superior value accruing from acting from these commands. This cognitive aspect we might thus term the apprehension of the moral law. Thus, the structure of respect may be outlined as follows: Schema I Respect = 1. Apprehension of the higher value of the moral law (cognitive aspect) and 2. Feeling of respect (action-guiding aspect) | | | leads to | | Being motivated to perform moral action 2.2 A Preliminary Outline of the Standard Intellectualist Position, As Articulated by Reath and Allison Advocates of standard intellectualist readings have similarly noted that respect possesses both a cognitive and a feeling aspect. They differ, however, regarding the work that these two aspects do in Kants account of moral motivation. Commenting on the nature of respect, Reath believes that Kants second characterization conveys . the primary notion of respect as the proper moral incentive. 1 Thus, according to Reath, when the will becomes conscious of determination by the moral law, it is led to recognize the Moral Law as a source of value, or reasons for action, that are unconditionally valid and overriding relative to other kinds of reasons . in particular . the reasons provided by ones desires, 2 and this conscious apprehension of the moral 1 Andrews Reath, Kants Theory of Moral Sensibility, Kant-Studien, 80 (1989), pp. 286-7. 2 Ibid., p. 287.

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12 laws value is, on Reaths account, sufficient to produce moral motivation in the agent. Thus, according to Reath, what I have identified above as the cognitive apprehension of the moral law, or the cognitive aspect of respect, functions by itself to influence the agent to moral action, without need for recourse to any affective element. 3 Reath, however, is also cognizant of the need to explain Kants other characterization of respect as a moral feeling, self-produced by means of a rational concept. Thus, Reath argues that, in addition to the intellectual aspect of respect, which is captured by Kants second characterization (and which is wholly responsible for motivating the will to moral action), there is also the affective aspect of respect, which is the sensuous feeling or emotion that is experienced when the Moral Law checks the inclinations and limits their influence on the will. 4 Reath therefore assumes that when Kant refers to the rationally self-produced feeling of respect, he is merely describing the affective, sensuous feeling of pain that results from the moral laws thwarting of inclinations. Thus, we can see that, on Reaths reading, there is really no such thing as a non-affective feeling that has the action-guiding property of motivating moral action. This means that, on Reaths reading, the cognitive apprehension of the moral law somehow both consists in the rational agents apprehending the moral law, and also does the work of motivating the agent to act morally. Reaths reading may thus be represented as follows: 3 Broadly agreeing with Reath on the sufficiency of conscious apprehension of the moral law for moral motivation, Henry Allison puts the point this way: respect for the law consists simply in the recognition of its supremely authoritative character, which is to be taken to mean that it provides a reason for action that outweighs or overrides all other reasons, particularly those stemming from ones desires. For more details, see Henry Allison, Kants Theory of Freedom (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990), p. 123. 4 Reath, op. cit., p. 287.

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13 Schema II Respect = Apprehension of moral law (both cognitive and action-guiding) | | | leads to | | Being motivated to perform moral action Accompanied by: Sensuous feeling of pain/Feeling of respect 2.3 Inconsistencies Between Reaths Reading and the Texts Although the references to the feeling of respect in the texts can be construed at several places in such a way that they support Reaths identification of this feeling with the pain arising from the thwarting of inclinations, it will be shown, in what follows, that Reaths understanding of this feeling as a negative feeling ultimately does not fit with the positive role that Kant assigns to this feeling in moral motivation. In the footnote at Gr. 401n, we find Kant apparently going to great pains to stress that in referring to respect as a feeling, he is not trying to smuggle an obscure affective component into his moral psychology: There might be brought against me here an objection that I take refuge behind the word respect in an obscure feeling, instead of giving a clear answer to the question by means of a concept of reason. But even though respect is a feeling, it is not one received through any outside influence but is, rather, one that is self-produced by means of a rational concept; hence it is specifically distinct from feelings of the first kind, which can all be reduced to inclination or fear. (Gr. 401n) Whatever this feeling of respect is, it is one that is self-produced by means of a rational concept and that, unlike other feelings, cannot be reduced to inclination or fear. In order for Reath to be able to hold that this feeling of respect is the pain that results from the thwarting of inclination, then, he has to be able to explain how such pain

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14 is something that can be self-produced by a rational concept and that cannot be reduced to inclination or fear. In a certain sense, it is possible to construe the pain resulting from the thwarting of inclination as being a feeling self-produced by a rational concept, if we understand self-produced to mean something like the direct product of. The pain resulting from the thwarting of inclination is indeed directly produced by an agents awareness of his wills being subject to the rational moral law, and can thus, in this sense, be considered to be self-produced by the latter. It also seems possible to understand this pain as being irreducible to inclination or fear, if one understands it to be a sensation that arises when the imperfectly rational wills inclinations experience the constraint of being subjected to or modified by the commands of the moral law. This is a sensation or feeling that seems properly distinguished from both sensations of inclination and fear. In addition, Reath could also try to distinguish this pain from other inclinations by appealing to the fact that Kant, at one point in the third chapter of the Critique of Practical Reason, specifically refers to the feeling of respect as one that can be known a priori, unlike all other feelings. Kant states that the moral law, as striking down, i.e., humiliating, self-conceit is an object of the greatest respect and thus the ground of a positive feeling which is not of empirical origin. This feeling, then, is one which can be known a priori. Respect for the moral law, therefore, is a feeling produced by an intellectual cause, and this feeling is the only one which we can know completely a priori and the necessity of which we can discern. (KPV 73) Drawing on this passage, Reath could claim that the pain resulting from the thwarting of inclinations is one that is produced by an intellectual cause [the moral law] and is not of empirical origin; being thus the only feeling which can be known a priori, it must be different from all other sensations or feelings, in large part because of the uniqueness

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15 of its origin in recognition of the moral law. That the imperfectly rational will should experience a feeling of constraint upon this recognition can also be understood to be a necessary occurrence which can be known a priori, insofar as such a sensation invariably accompanies the moral laws governing of the imperfectly rational human will. It is admittedly possible to interpret Kants various descriptions of the feeling of respect so that they fit with Reaths identification of this feeling with the sensation of pain experienced by the will in being governed by the moral law. Nevertheless, the basis for identifying this feeling which is not of empirical origin and which is known a priori with the pain arising from the thwarting of inclination is ultimately suspect. Kant describes this feeling as a positive feeling, the representation of a moral law which influences the agent towards carrying out moral action; the pain arising from the thwarting of inclination, however, can scarcely be considered a positive feeling. This point is a problem for Reaths view of the nature of respect. The feeling of respect cannot be the negative pain that arises from the moral laws thwarting of inclinations but must be a positive feeling capable of influencing the agent towards moral action. We are thus left with the somewhat mysterious notion of the feeling of respect an action-guiding element of respect as recognition of the moral law that is not a feeling in the ordinary, affective sense, which yet possesses the ability to influence the agent to choose a moral course of action over actions motivated by desires and sensuous feelings. What could such a feeling possibly be? 2.4 How Respect for the Moral Law Wins Over Opposing Inclinations, Bringing About Moral Action Before trying to discern the exact nature of the feeling aspect of respect, it will be useful first to clarify how respect wins out over opposing inclinations, or, in Kants

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16 own words, reject all rival claims of self-love (KPV 76). We must consider the effects on the agents will of apprehending the moral law and being moved by the feeling of respect. These effects manifest themselves in a kind of decision process, in which the will chooses between the moral maxim and maxims based on actions from inclination. 2.4.1 The Nature of Inclinations, and How They Influence Choice In seeking to understand the effects that respect brings about in the will, it is useful to begin by taking a close look at the different kinds of inclinations that respect has to come up against and win over. In his paper, Kants Theory of Moral Sensibility, Reath undertakes a careful, systematic analysis of the different kinds of inclinations that besiege the imperfectly rational will. 5 Reath begins by noting that, at KPV 73, Kant lists the various kinds of empirical motivational tendencies that respect for the law has to triumph over: All inclinations taken together constitute self-regard (solipsismus). This consists either of self-love, which is a predominant benevolence toward oneself (philantia) or of self-satisfaction (arrogantia). The former is called, more particularly, selfishness; the latter, self-conceit. Pure practical reason merely checks selfishness But it strikes down self-conceit (KpV 73). Thus, for Kant, inclinations can be broadly divided into two subclasses: self-love or selfishness, on the one hand, and self-conceit, on the other. Kant goes on to describe selfishness as a predominant benevolence towards oneself; as such, it merely needs to be kept in check by the moral law, for: selfishness, natural and active in us even prior to the moral law, is restricted by the moral law to agreement with the law; when this is done, selfishness is called rational self-love. (KpV 73) 5 For more details, see Reath, op. cit., pp. 291-5. The accounts of self-love and self-conceit in this paper are chiefly informed by Reaths clear, concise account in his paper, although, with his account as the starting point, I have also, at several places, undertaken some detailed textual exegesis that further substantiate his account.

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17 A more radical position is taken towards self-conceit, however. Kant states that while the moral law merely excludes the influence of self-love from the highest practical principle, it strikes down and humiliates self-conceit (KPV 74). Thus, while one may at times act from self-love, so long as such action is rational and in agreement with the law, Kant categorically rules out any place for actions from self-conceit in moral action. The distinction between self-love and self-conceit may be understood as follows. Self-love is a propensity to make oneself, according to subjective determining grounds of ones choice (Willkr), into an objective determining ground of the will (Wille) in general. (KPV 74) It is the interest in ones own welfare, and in the satisfaction of ones own desires and inclinations. As such, it is a tendency or propensity to take ones own inclinations and desires as providing sufficient reasons both to act and to justify ones own actions. A person who acts from self-love believes that her desires and inclinations are sufficient not just to provide her with reasons for action, but also to justify her action to others; thus, in addition to being the subjective determining ground which provides her with reasons, she also sees her inclinations as constituting an objective determining ground which justifies her actions to others. This interpretation is also corroborated by Lewis White Beck, who defines subjective determining ground as the conative or dynamic factor in volition, and objective determining ground as the rule or principle governing action. 6 Thus, the individual motivated by self-love not only sees her inclinations as conative elements which provide her with certain subjective, desire-based 6 Beck, op. cit., p. 216.

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18 grounds for action, she also sees them as constituting objective rules or standards which can be cited in order to justify such desire-based action to others. Hence, the individual motivated by self-love takes her own inclinations as sufficient reasons both to act and to justify her own actions, and also views the inclinations of others as similarly sufficient reasons for their own actions, so that all individuals would be permitted to pursue their inclinations, and justify their actions based on them. 7 Reath points out that self-love does not motivate the agent simply by means of some affective force acting on her will; rather, because motivation from self-love involves the agent regarding the inclination as providing a sufficient reason for action, self-love can only influence choice when the agent attributes a certain value (whatever value that is required in order for the inclination to qualify as a sufficient reason) to the inclination. Such attribution of value is clearly a conscious act of volition on the part of the agent. How does such attribution of value occur? An inclination first arises in the will as a sensuous affective force. In response to this force, the agent formulates a maxim that prescribes a certain course of action aimed towards the satisfaction of the inclination in question. Such a maxim both describes the action to be taken to satisfy the inclination, and also furnishes the justifying reason for satisfying the inclination in question. The agent then considers the maxim, and adopts it and acts on the inclination in question only if she deems the maxim to possess the value that sufficiently justifies such action to 7 In portraying the individual motivated by self-love as one who views the self-interested motives of others as similarly sufficient reasons for action, I am not denying the possibilities for conflict between such individuals. Indeed, such conflict is quite likely, especially in the case of self-interested individuals with maxims directed towards the same scarce objects of desire. However, I will not go into the details of such conflict here, as they do not alter our understanding of motivation from self-love.

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19 others. Such a process of formulation and adoption of a maxim Reath terms the principle of election, and it is in this way that, according to Reath, inclinations influence choice not merely by virtue of the affective sensuous force which they exert on the will, but, ultimately, by the justificatory value which the agent supposes them to have. 8 Agreeing with Reath, Allison explains the way inclinations influence the will by putting forward the Incorporation Thesis, which holds that inclinations influence the will by being incorporated into maxims, whereby the agent then considers whether or not to adopt the maxim in question and act on the corresponding inclination. 9 Thus, on the intellectualist view, even Kantian nonmoral motivation is moral in form, in that the agent who adopts and acts on a maxim based on an inclination does so only if she regards such a maxim as expressing reasons for action that other agents can accept. In other words, as Reath puts it, even nonmoral action involves regarding ones action as good, at some level, and we always choose maxims that we suppose could be made universal laws. 10 2.4.2 How the Moral Law Checks Inclinations Against this backdrop of nonmoral motivation, the moral law checks inclinations by showing the will that maxims founded on inclinations do not have the justificatory value that the agent supposes them to have, by presenting the will with a higher form of value. Thus the moral law: 8 For more details, see Reath, op. cit., pp. 295-7. 9 For more details, see Allison, op. cit., p. 126. 10 Here, it is worth noting that although Allison agrees with Reath that the agent, in adopting a certain maxim, assumes that it is in some sense rationally justified, he does not think that Kant is committed to the view that we always choose maxims that we suppose could be made universal laws, even in nonmoral decision-making. Allison points out, for instance, that the person acting from self-conceit denies the legitimacy of the perspective of others, and, in so doing, rejects the assumption that his choice of maxims must satisfy the criterion of being in some sense universalizeable. Although I do not see this issue as directly relevant to my project, I am inclined to agree with Allison on this matter. For more details, see Allison, op. cit., p. 126.

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20 completely excludes the influence of self-love from the highest principle [t]herefore, the moral law inevitably humbles every man when he compares the sensuous propensity of his nature with the law. (KPV 74) When the will apprehends the moral law and compares the higher value of the moral maxim with the value of maxims founded on inclinations, which are limited by their sensuous propensity, the self-interested maxim is shown not to have the value necessary to justify the self-interested action that the agent initially took it to have; the maxim founded on self-love is brought into the open, so to speak, and its actual value exposed. With the self-interested maxim thus devalued, the agent cannot help but acknowledge the supreme unconditioned value of the moral maxim, and accordingly adopts it. Connecting Reaths account of how the moral law checks self-love with my earlier schematization of his overall picture of Kants account of moral motivation in schema II, we find that schema II may be modified in such a way as to provide us with a picture of how the moral law thwarts inclinations: Schema IIa Respect = Apprehension of moral maxim (both cognitive and action-guiding) | |leads to | Value of moral maxim > Value of maxim founded on inclination | |leads to | Moral maxim adopted by will | | leads to | Being motivated to perform moral action Accompanied by: Sensuous feeling of pain/Feeling of respect

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21 From schema IIa, we can see that, according to Reath, the proximate cause of the agents adopting the moral maxim and performing the moral action is her seeing that the moral maxim possesses a higher value than the one founded on inclination. With regards to the moral laws checking of self-love, then, the apprehension of the moral law really amounts to such a representation to the human will of the higher value of the moral maxim compared to that of the non-moral one. According to Reath, then, the apprehension of this higher value is sufficient to motivate the will to undertake moral action. Again, as with schema II, this means that the work that such an apprehension has to do is twofold: it has to both enable the agent to understand the higher value of the moral maxim, as well as to motivate the agent to act morally. Here, Reath runs into problems that were not so apparent in schema II. If the moral maxim motivates by virtue of its higher value, what exactly does such higher value amount to? It certainly cannot be that the moral maxim motivates because it possesses a higher amount of the same kind of value; if this were the case, Reath would be forced to conclude that the difference in the values of the two types of maxims is merely one of degree, and that the agent chooses the moral maxim because it offers him a higher degree of sensuous satisfaction than the one founded on inclination. This being so, it would also become clear that Reath is really subscribing to a disguised affectivist view of Kantian moral motivation; instead of the sensuous motivation manifesting itself in the sheer affective force that the inclination (or the moral law) exerts on the will, it presents itself as the sensuous satisfaction promised by the relative values of the two kinds of maxims.

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22 2.5 Apprehension of value of moral maxim identified as the awareness of absolute value of rational nature In order for Reaths account to remain a credible intellectualist account of moral motivation, then, the difference between the two kinds of values must be explained in such a way that it is manifest that this difference is a qualitative, not quantitative one. To understand what kind of value difference Kant has in mind, it is useful to begin by noting that, for Kant, the limited value of maxims founded on inclinations is closely linked to the limited values of the objects towards which actions based on such maxims are directed. Thus, All the objects of inclination have only a conditioned value; for if there were not these inclinations and the needs founded on them, then their object would be without value. But the inclinations themselves, being sources of needs, are so far from having an absolute value such as to render them desirable for their own sake that the universal wish of every rational being must be, rather, to be wholly free from them. Accordingly, the value of any object obtainable by our action is always conditioned. (Gr. 428) The objects that we pursue in seeking to satisfy our inclinations have only a limited value, value that is dependent on the presence of desires and inclinations, which confer such value on these objects. This value accruing from fulfilling inclinations is therefore far from absolute. Is there anything that possesses absolute value? Kant points us to the source of absolute value when he goes on to state that: On the other hand, rational beings are called persons inasmuch as their nature already marks them out as ends in themselves, i.e., as something which is not to be used merely as means and hence there is imposed thereby a limit on all arbitrary use of such beings, which are thus objects of respect. Persons are, therefore, not merely subjective ends, whose existence as an effect of our actions has a value for us; but such beings are objective ends, i.e., exist as ends-in-themselves. Such an end is one for which there can be substituted no other end to which such beings should serve merely as means, for otherwise nothing at all of absolute value would be found anywhere. (Gr. 428)

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23 Hence, for Kant, rational beings, or persons, are the only things which possess absolute value. Why do they possess absolute value? The answer, I believe, becomes apparent when we ponder Kants declaration that persons are not merely subjective ends, whose existence as an effect of our actions has a value for us. Subjective ends, Kant earlier stated, are based on impulsions (Gr. 427), and are [e]nds that a rational being adopts arbitrarily as effects of his action (material ends). (Gr. 427) Subjective ends are thus ends that the agent pursues in seeking to fulfill his inclinations. It is in this way that they can be said to be based on impulsions. Because subjective ends are pursued only with a view to fulfilling inclinations, and inclinations, as noted above, have only limited value, such ends only have a relative value for us, insofar as their attainment is useful for us in the fulfillment of our desires. Persons, on the other hand, are objective ends, and they exist as ends-in-themselves. What does it mean for something to be an objective end, and to exist as an end in itself? Kant states above that an objective end is an end in itself: it is something which is not to be used merely as means and which imposes a limit on all arbitrary use of it. A person, as an end-in-itself, is not to be used merely as a means to fulfilling inclinations. The value of a person goes beyond such use. The persons existence by itself confers value on her, and this value is absolute, in that this value obtains even if the person were to be of no use in furthering anybodys inclinations. The possessing of such absolute value confers a unique status on a rational being, so that such a being cannot be used to any end to fulfill inclinations. The use of such a being to fulfill inclinations can only be sanctioned if such use is carried out without infringing on the rights and concerns that rational nature confers on such a being. Thus the value of persons as ends-in

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24 themselves is absolute because such value arises independently of any value accruing from inclinations, and sets limits on the pursuit of inclinations. H.J. Paton brings out this point by means of an insightful illustration about a familiar group of rational beings: Every time we post a letter, we use post-office officials as a means, but we do not use them simply as a means. What we expect of them we believe to be in accordance with their own will, and indeed to be in accordance with their duty. Considerations of this kind do not arise in regard to the stamp which we stick on our letter or the post-box to which we entrust it: they arise only in regard to persons and not to things. 11 From the above, then, it can be seen that, for Kant, the only things that possess absolute value are persons, who are to be treated as ends-in-themselves by virtue of their rational nature. Being absolute, such value is independent of and not conditional upon the existence of inclinations. Given this conception, we can characterize the end-in-itself thus: (E1) Something possesses absolute value (i.e. is an end-in-itself) if and only if it possesses value independently of inclinations and it sets limits on the pursuit of inclinations. (E1) does not yet fully capture what it means for something to be an end-in-itself possessing absolute value. To describe the end-in-itself as setting limits on the pursuit of inclinations is to ascribe to it a negative role in influencing action. In addition to this negative role, Kant holds that the end-in-itself also impacts upon action in a positive way, by influencing the agent to take action to promote the exercise of rational nature. This is clear from the third and fourth examples Kant considers after stating the end-in-itself formulation of the categorical imperative. Kant utilizes the third example to exhort the reader to cultivate and nurture her talents, declaring that: 11 H.J. Paton, The Categorical Imperative (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1971), p. 165.

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25 it is not enough that the action does not conflict with humanity in our own person as an end in itself: it must also harmonize with this end. Now there are in humanity capacities for greater perfection which belong to the end that nature has in view as regards humanity in our own person. To neglect these capacities might perhaps be consistent with the maintenance of humanity as an end in itself, but would not be consistent with the advancement of this end. (Gr. 430) Limiting the pursuit of inclinations enables one to avoid conflicting with the interests of rational nature. Acting out of regard for rational nature, however, does not consist merely in avoidance, but further requires that ones actions harmonize with rational nature. This harmonization can be achieved only when, in addition to avoiding conflict with the end-in-itself, one takes action to actively promote this end. The nurturing and cultivating of ones talents, by expanding the capacities of rational nature and the range over which it can be exercised, clearly promotes the end-in-itself, and is thus something that the agent is obliged to undertake if her actions are to be seen as action from regard for rational nature as an end-in-itself. The fourth example also exhorts the agent to promote rational nature, although the emphasis here is not on self-regarding, but other-regarding, action: Now humanity might indeed subsist if nobody contributed anything to the happiness of others, provided he did not intentionally impair their happiness. But this, after all, would harmonize only negatively and not positively with humanity as an end in itself, if everyone does not also strive, as much as he can, to further the ends of others. For the ends of any subject who is an end in himself must as far as possible be my ends also, if that conception of an end in itself is to have its full effect in me. (Gr. 430) In order to act out of regard for rational nature in other persons, it is not enough that we avoid impairing the exercise of these rational natures; we must also take positive action to promote these natures by helping to further their ends whenever possible. Hence, both in actions concerning ourselves and in our interactions with others, acting from regard for rational nature as an end-in-itself involves, in addition to avoiding

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26 conflict with the interests of rational nature, taking positive action to promote the exercise of rational nature. In light of this, (E1) may be refined as follows: (E2) Something possesses absolute value (i.e. is an end-in-itself) if and only if it possesses value independently of inclinations, and it sets limits on the pursuit of inclinations, and it requires that the agent take positive action to promote it, both in actions concerning herself and in her interactions with other persons. This formulation makes it clear that rational nature as an end-in-itself imposes normative requirements on the agent by setting limits on inclination and requiring the agent to take positive action to promote rational nature. It remains to be seen, however, whether and how the agent can be motivated to act to fulfill these normative requirements. What is capable of motivating the agent to set limits on the pursuit of inclinations, and to act to promote rational nature as an end-in-itself? Insofar as such action is constitutive of moral action, it is safe to say that it is respect that motivates such action. The task facing us, then, is to spell out just what such motivation by respect amounts to. If Reaths account is credible, it must follow that such motivation derives from apprehending the absolute value possessed by the end-in-itself, since, on the account above, this is ultimately what the higher value of the moral maxim amounts to. Does such motivation really arise from apprehending the absolute value possessed by the end-in-itself? Or does it arise from something else? We might obtain some insight into this issue from considering the following passage at Gr. 400: Duty is the necessity of an action done out of respect for the law. I can indeed have an inclination for an object as the effect of my proposed action; but I can never have respect for such an object, just because it is merely an effect and is not an activity of the will. Here, Kant draws a clear contrast between what is involved in moral action based on respect for the moral law, and nonmoral action based on the pursuit of inclinations. In nonmoral action, the agent seeks to bring about a desired state of affairs (what Kant refers

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27 to as the effect) in order to fulfill an inclination. This is so because to have an inclination is, in an important sense, to have an inclination for a certain state of affairs to obtain; specifically, the state of affairs in which the inclination is fulfilled. It is in this sense that Kant observes that one can have an inclination for the effect of a nonmoral action. The motivational picture is quite different in the realm of moral action. Whatever motivates one to undertake moral action, it clearly cannot be the effect of the action. This Kant states unequivocally at the beginning of the Gr.: A good will is good not because of what it effects or accomplishes, nor because of its fitness to attain some proposed end it is good in itself. Even if, by some especially unfortunate fate or by the niggardly provision of step-motherly nature, this will should be wholly lacking in the power to accomplish its purpose; if with the greatest effort it should yet achieve nothing, and only the good will should remain yet would it, like a jewel, still shine by its own light as something which has its full value in itself. (Gr. 394) If respect, or the motivation to moral action, does not arise from considering the effect of the moral action, from what could it arise? Looking back at the passage at Gr. 400, we are told that we can only have respect for the activity of a will. Given that moral action is action undertaken from a good will, it follows that Kant means by such activity the activity of a good will. How does contemplating the activity of a good will cause one to be motivated to undertake moral action? Or, to put the question in terms of (E2), how does contemplating the activity of a good will motivate one to act to set limits on ones inclinations, and take action to promote rational nature as an end-in-itself? We begin to see the answer when we consider Kants famous declaration at the beginning of the Gr. that the only thing that can possess absolute, unconditioned value is a good will. It is surely no accident that both rational nature as an end-in-itself and a good will are characterized as possessing absolute value. Indeed, rational beings are to be regarded as ends-in-themselves because this good will, which Kant declares to be of

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28 unconditioned value, is present in every rational being, even if it is often overridden by the desires and inclinations to which imperfectly rational beings invariably are subject. Thus rational beings, being the vessels of good will, so to speak, also come to possess the absolute value that is found in the good will, and their role as the bearers of absolute value confer upon them a unique status, so that they cannot simply be used as means like other beings. In light of this close relation between the good will and rational nature as an end-in-itself, then, (E2) can be further articulated as follows: (E3) Something possesses absolute value (i.e. is an end-in-itself) if and only if a good will is present in it which causes it to possess value independently of inclinations, and it sets limits on the pursuit of inclinations, and it requires that the agent take positive action to promote it, both in actions concerning herself and in her interactions with other persons. To contemplate the activity of a good will, then, is to become directly aware of what it is that causes rational nature to possess absolute value. It is to become directly aware of what it is that makes us ends-in-ourselves, setting us apart from other, non-rational beings, beings which, lacking our unique status, can be used to any end in the service of inclinations. In contemplating the activity of a good will, then, we become directly aware of something that is central to our identity as rational beings, or persons. Such awareness of the absolute value of rational nature also brings with it an awareness of the moral duties to be carried out in preserving and promoting this thing of absolute value. These duties need have no recourse to external, affective feelings in order to have normative force with respect to the agent. Rather, the agent, in becoming aware of the absolute value of rational nature, cannot help but also be gripped by the necessity of carrying out these duties in order that this thing of absolute value may continue to exist and flourish. Because this thing of absolute value is not something external to herself, but is, rather,

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29 something which is central to her very identity, the agent can only ignore these duties on pain of estranging herself from a vital aspect of her very conception of herself as a person. 2.6 Awareness of Rational Nature as Giving Rise to a Rational, Action-guiding Compulsion or Feeling of Respect, Which Motivates Moral Action The awareness of the absolute value of rational nature, then, gives rise to an overriding compulsion on the part of the agent to act to carry out the duties necessary to preserve and promote rational nature. This compulsion, in its immediacy, exerts a compelling effect on the agents psyche, one that is somewhat akin to the force of an affective feeling; yet, being something which arises directly from the agents consciousness of a central aspect of her very identity as a person, this overriding compulsion is distinct in its nature from any affective feelings arising from consideration of the desired effects of nonmoral actions. Because awareness of the absolute value of rational nature is also awareness of the necessity to carry out the dictates of moral law in order to preserve and promote this absolute value, respect is also described, in the famous footnote at Gr. 401n, as immediate determination of the will by the law and consciousness of this determination. It is with this in mind that Kant also goes to great pains to stress, in the same footnote, that his positing of the notion of respect is not to be seen as an attempt to take refuge in an obscure feeling instead of giving a clearly articulated answer to the question by means of a concept of reason. In an attenuated sense, respect can be termed a feeling, insofar as this refers broadly to anything that has an action-guiding effect on the agent. This feeling of respect, however, is not the affective, sensuous influence that

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30 the word commonly refers to. It is not something arising from consideration of a desired effect external to ourselves, as Kant stresses later at Gr. 401n: even though respect is a feeling, it is not one received through any outside influence but is, rather, one that is self-produced by means of a rational concept; hence it is specifically distinct from all feelings of the first kind Indeed, respect is a unique feeling produced when one becomes aware of something central to ones identity as a person, i.e. the absolute value of rational nature. It is in this sense that respect can truly be said to be something self-produced by means of a rational concept, for it arises from a concept that is vital to ones conception of ones rational self. That respect is a feeling only in this attenuated sense is also attested to in a less well-known passage from the KPV: This feeling [of respect], under the name of moral feeling, is therefore produced solely by reason. It does not serve in estimating actions or as a basis of the objective moral law itself but only as a drive to make this law itself its maxim. By what name better than moral feeling could we call this singular feeling, which cannot be compared with any pathological feeling? (KPV 76) Respect, as a feeling produced solely by our conception of ourselves as rational beings, is singular in nature, in that it is an entirely different kind of action-guiding component from pathological feelings, which are affective feelings pertaining to emotions and passions associated with desires. That respect arises from contemplating the exercise of a good will by a rational being, and the absolute value associated therewith, is confirmed by Kant slightly later in the KPV, when he observes that: Respect always applies to persons only, never to things to a humble plain man, in whom I perceive righteousness in a higher degree than I am conscious of in myself, my mind bows whether I choose to or not, however high I carry my head that he may not forget my superior position In men all good is defective, but the law made visible in an example always humbles my pride, since the man whom I see

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31 before me provides me with a standard by clearly appearing to me in a more favourable light in spite of his imperfections Respect is a tribute we cannot refuse to pay merit whether we will or not; we can indeed outwardly withhold it, but we cannot help feeling it inwardly. (KPV 76-7) In observing the activity of a good will manifested in the actions of a rational being (albeit an imperfectly rational one), we are inevitably compelled by the feeling of respect to acknowledge the absolute value of such an instance of the [moral] law made visible in an example, even if our desire for worldly position causes us to withhold any outward display of such acknowledgement. At the same time, this awareness of the absolute value of such activity also engenders in us a compelling drive to make this [moral] law itself its [our actions] maxim, for this awareness of absolute value is so central to our conception of ourselves as persons that, whether it results in our actually taking moral action or not, we nevertheless cannot help feeling it inwardly. Hence, given the above analysis of how the feeling of respect arises from the awareness of the absolute value of rational nature, we may characterize such awareness as follows: (A1) Something constitutes awareness of the absolute value of rational nature if and only if such awareness arises from contemplating the activity of a good will, and gives rise to a rational compulsion or feeling in the agent to set limits on the pursuit of inclinations, and to undertake positive action to preserve and promote rational nature, both in actions concerning herself and in her interactions with other persons. What does this analysis of the awareness of the absolute value of rational nature, and the rational feeling arising from it, entail for Reaths account? In an important sense, I am in fundamental agreement with Reath: like Reath, I hold that, for Kant, motivation to moral action only comes about because of the agents apprehension of a

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32 certain higher value, which I have identified as the awareness of the absolute value of rational nature. I differ with Reath, however, over what follows such apprehension or awareness. Unlike Reath, who relegates what Kant refers to as the feeling of respect to the merely negative status of a by-product (pain) resulting from the moral laws thwarting of inclinations, I argue that such a feeling is actually a rational, action-guiding compulsion arising from awareness of rational nature, a compulsion that does positive work in directly motivating the agent to undertake moral action to preserve and promote rational nature. Thus, taking into account my fundamental agreement, as well as my differences with Reaths account, the modified intellectualist position that I had earlier put forward in schema I may be reformulated as: Schema Ia Respect = 1. Awareness of the absolute value of rational nature (cognitive) and 2. Rational compulsion or feeling of respect (action-guiding) | |leads to | Being motivated to perform moral action to preserve and promote rational nature 2.7 Interim Summary Schema Ia, which represents the modified intellectualist reading that I am putting forward, is essentially similar in structure to schema I, set forth at the beginning of this thesis. The central point of schema I, that respect consists of a cognitive component (the apprehension of the higher value of the moral law) and an action-guiding component (the

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33 feeling of respect), remains unchanged. Schema Ia refines schema I by incorporating the results of the intervening examination of Reaths view of Kantian moral motivation. Firstly, in schema Ia, I have represented my point of agreement with Reaths account: I concur with Reath that apprehending the moral law ultimately amounts to apprehension of a certain higher value, and this apprehension of value, I argue, is ultimately to be identified as the awareness of the absolute value of rational nature as an end-in-itself. However, I also argue that such awareness of value alone does not move the agent to moral action. This awareness necessarily gives rise to a non-affective compulsion (which Kant refers to as the feeling of respect), and it is this compulsion that fulfills the action-guiding function of motivating the agent to undertake moral action. Hence, I disagree with Reaths claim that apprehension of value is itself sufficient to motivate moral action, and argue that the feeling of respect, which Reath has relegated to being merely a negative by-product of moral motivation, should be seen as something that does positive work in motivating moral action. Apart from providing an account of Kantian moral motivation that fits better with the textual evidence, as I have shown above, what are the other advantages of my modified intellectualist reading? In many places in his writings, Kant emphasizes that moral action is not motivated by heteronomous forces, and he expressly rules out any appeal to sensuous, affective forces in explaining moral motivation. Such an aim can, of course, be achieved by Reaths intellectualist reading of Kantian moral motivation. Indeed, any intellectualist approach to explaining Kantian moral motivation is fundamentally an attempt to adhere faithfully to this overarching principle of Kantian morality, a principle that is indisputably a distinguishing feature of Kants ethical system. In order for an

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34 intellectualist reading to be truly convincing, however, it needs, in place of a sensuous affective component, a non-affective component that is at least equally capable of accounting for the action-guidingness of respect. While Reaths account is internally consistent, it is nevertheless somewhat mysterious how mere apprehension of the value of the moral maxim can motivate moral action. Insofar as this mystery surrounding the supposed motivational function of such apprehension takes away from a compelling account of how Kantian moral motivation occurs, it can only be a shortcoming of Reaths account, one that a proponent of a sufficiently compelling affectivist view can quite readily exploit. My modified intellectualist account does not claim to be able to remove this element of mystery; indeed, mystery necessarily bedevils any attempt to explain how moral motivation can occur by purely non-affective means. What I seek to do is to show that this element of mystery, far from being a bane to Kants moral psychology, actually lies at the heart of Kants unique insight into the human condition: that rationality is central to our conception of ourselves as persons, and that concerns of rationality alone should therefore be capable of inspiring us to action, whatever the fickle orientation of our affective feelings. Admittedly, the critic could still press the case, insisting that it nevertheless remains unfathomable how something as purely cognitive as a rational conception could move one to action by itself. However, if what I said above follows, then the critic must realize that the dispute has shifted to a whole new level: she is not just challenging a particular reading of Kants moral psychology, but is disagreeing with Kant over the very issue of what constitutes a person. This is, of course, a most admirable disagreement to have, but it is not my task to address this issue in this thesis. My task is

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35 simply to show how, in light of Kants fundamental conviction regarding the centrality of rationality to personhood, his ethical system more specifically, his moral psychology can be seen as a compelling elaboration of this conviction. 2.8 The Possibility of Being Motivated by Awareness of Rational Nature Does the awareness of the absolute value of rational nature, together with the rational compulsion which it generates, really make for a compelling account of Kantian moral motivation? Kant, after all, is famous for insisting that ought implies can; in order to be truly credible, then, the modified intellectualist account, in addition to being consistent with the textual evidence, must also be able to show that it is possible for the rational agent to be motivated by awareness of rational nature and the rational compulsion it generates. The possibility of such motivation can be shown if we direct our attention to the first of the four examples that Kant considers after putting forth the end-in-itself formulation of the Categorical Imperative. Here, Kant considers the case of a man who, reduced to despair by a series of misfortunes feels sick of life (Gr. 421-2). This man has no desire to go on living, for the continuance of his life threatens more evil than it promises satisfaction, and, being in the depths of despair, all his affective feelings are also oriented negatively against the continuance of life, so that there are no affective feelings present within him that can motivate him to preserve his life. The man contemplates killing himself in order to escape pain and suffering. However, he asks himself whether his action can be consistent with the idea of humanity as an end in itself (Gr. 429). In response, Kant points out that Man, however, is not a thing and hence is not something to be used merely as a means; he must in all his actions always be regarded as an end in himself.

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36 Therefore I cannot dispose of man in my person by mutilating, damaging, or killing him. (Gr. 429) Thus, when the man in such an unfortunate circumstance considers the moral acceptability of his desire to end his life, he becomes aware that the status of a person as an end-in-itself proscribes the killing of oneself as a means to ending personal suffering. This is so because in so doing, rational nature is being used merely as a means, as exploiting rational nature in this way to avoid suffering destroys the very possibility of the exercise of rational nature. The awareness of the absolute value of rational nature thus rules against acting to satisfy the desire to end suffering, an action which can only result in relative value. Can the agent be motivated to obey this ruling? Given that all the affective feelings of the agent in this case incline towards taking his own life, the motivation for preserving his life must be rational in nature, and must arise directly from the awareness of rational nature, since the only inclinations present in the agent are for the termination of his life and cannot possibly give rise to any life-preserving motivation. That which motivates the agent to undertake the moral action of preserving rational nature must therefore be a rational compulsion arising from awareness of rational nature. I hope to have shown that appreciation of the roles played by the awareness of the absolute value of rational nature, and by the rational compulsion generated therefrom, makes for a compelling account of how the notion of respect is central to Kants account of moral motivation. By showing how Kant could have held that acting from moral considerations is possible in a case in which no extraneous nonmoral interests could have motivated the relevant moral action, my account provides a picture of Kantian moral motivation that not only stays true to the rational, non-heteronomous nature of the Kantian framework, but also makes clear how every step of the motivational process

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37 reflects through and through Kants conviction that rational considerations are capable of motivating moral action by themselves, even in the face of adverse affections and opposing desires. 2.9 Alleged Moral Weakness of Will as Lapse of Rationality Thus far, I have concerned myself with the question of how, on the Kantian framework, one can be motivated to undertake moral action. What happens when one fails to be so motivated? Is such failure symptomatic of weakness of will, or the intentional performance of an action by an agent who at the same time believes that a better option is available? The agent, in becoming aware of the absolute value of rational nature, and of its superiority over the relative value possessed by nonmoral inclinations, is immediately motivated by the rational compulsion or feeling of respect to undertake moral action. So overriding is the effect of this awareness on the agent that it is sufficient by itself to triumph over even the greatest threat to rational nature, i.e. the inclination to take ones own life (and terminate rational nature in oneself) in order to put an end to personal suffering. Awareness of the absolute value of rational nature is thus a strong internalist conception; the rational agent who is genuinely aware of this absolute value cannot fail to experience the rational compulsion or feeling of respect, and to be motivated to undertake moral action accordingly, insofar as she is rational. 12 The converse of this is that the agent who fails to be motivated to undertake moral action is not genuinely aware of the absolute value of rational nature. How could this come about? As stated above, awareness of such absolute value, and the rational feeling arising therefrom, motivate 12 In spelling out the internalism inherent in awareness of the absolute value of rational nature in this way, I am drawing from Christine Korsgaards internalism requirement, which holds that [p]ractical reason claims, if they are really to present us with reasons for action, must be capable of motivating rational persons. For more details, see Christine Korsgaard, Skepticism about practical reason, in Creating the Kingdom of Ends, ed. Christine Korsgaard (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), p. 317.

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38 agents to action insofar as they are rational. This implies that in moral transgressions, there is an important sense in which the agent is not rational, at least when the transgression occurs. There is more than one way in which such a lapse in rationality can occur. Extreme stress, trauma, or depression can skew our perceptions of things, so that our ability to make rational judgements is considerably undermined. The person who, after considering the moral acceptability of suicide, goes ahead and takes his own life anyway is someone for whom the depression, stress and emotional trauma brought about by his troubles is so great that he is no longer able to appreciate the higher value of rational nature over all inclinations, and sees rational nature as being just one among many ends to be served. In other cases, the lapse of rationality occurs not because the agent fails to see the value of rational nature, but because she simply does not recognize rational nature as such. The dictator who has no compunction about torturing or killing people in order to satisfy his desire for power, or a desire for sadistic pleasure, is able to do so because he has ceased to see these people as rational beings like himself, with their own ends and projects in life, but simply sees them as beings who exist primarily in order that he may fulfill his desires. Indeed, it is precisely such a lapse of rationality that prompts us to condemn such practices as inhumane, insofar as rationality is central even to everyday conceptions of what it means to be human. The causes of this failure to recognize rational nature as such are many and varied, ranging from the effects of ideology, the influence of early upbringing, as well as certain unusual life-experiences, to mention a few. However lapses of rationality occur, they all have one common result: they lead to a distortion of the agents ability to become genuinely aware of the absolute value inherent in rational nature.

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39 Hence, on the modified intellectualist account, there is really no such thing as moral weakness of will, if by this is meant the intentional performance of an action by an agent who at the same time believes that a better option is available. The agent who fails to be motivated to act morally fails because she is not genuinely aware of the absolute value of rational nature. Whether the lapse of rationality underlying such lack of awareness stems from a failure to see the value of rational nature or from a failure to recognize rational nature as such, the agent suffering from such a lapse does not believe that there is a more valuable course of action than the one she is presently committed to; not possessing the rationality required to be aware of the superior value of the moral course of action, she wholeheartedly believes her present, nonmoral course of action to be the best course available.

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CHAPTER 3 THE AFFECTIVIST VIEW 3.1 A Preliminary Outline of the Affectivist View Perhaps the best way to begin to understand the affectivist position is to start by observing that it shares the same starting point as the standard intellectualist position. Like Reath, an affectivist like Richard McCarty believes that, for Kant, moral motivation begins with a cognitive apprehension of the moral law. Like the intellectualist, the affectivist holds that such apprehension enables the agent to understand the higher value of the moral maxim over nonmoral ones and the superiority of moral reasons for action over nonmoral ones. Thus McCarty points out that such cognitive apprehension is essentially a comparative judgement in which agents are led to have recognized not only that a course of action open to them is the moral course, but also that the outcome of their future choice ought to be the moral alternative. 1 Such apprehension, however, is not all there is to the moral act. The agents understanding that the moral course of action is the superior one is a cognitive act; such a cognitive act, the affectivist argues, does not provide the action-guiding force needed to move the agent to undertake moral action. Rather, such a cognitive apprehension is a preparation for a second step. This second step involves a choice between alternative moral and nonmoral courses of action. McCarty argues that the cognitive apprehension of the moral law, while enabling the agent to understand the superiority of moral maxims over nonmoral ones, does not suffice to 1 Richard McCarty, Motivation and Moral Choice in Kants Theory of Rational Agency, Kant-Studien, 85 (1994), p. 23. 40

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41 influence the agents choice at the moment when she is to decide between moral and nonmoral courses of action. In order for moral action to take place, then, another action-guiding element must be present at the moment of choice, so that, in addition to understanding the superiority of moral reasons for action, her will is also influenced in such a way that she chooses the moral course of action over the nonmoral one at that moment. This action-guiding element McCarty identifies with what Kant refers to as the moral feeling. Such a feeling, McCarty claims, is an affective force which arises from the initial cognitive apprehension of the moral law. Therefore, McCarty argues that Kantian moral motivation consists of a two-part process: a cognitive apprehension, in which the agent understands the higher value of the moral maxim, and a moral feeling arising from this apprehension, which provides the will with an affective, action-guiding force which influences the will to choose the moral course of action over the nonmoral one at the moment of choice. In putting forth such a two-part model of Kantian moral motivation, McCarty draws on what is known as the Wille-Willkr distinction in Kant. Such a distinction is already in place in KPV, but Kant gives an official formulation of it only in the later Metaphysics of Morals. According to Kant, all volition takes place through two functions, will (Wille) and choice (Willkr). Kant defines choice as the part of volition considered . in relation to action, while he defines will as the ground determining choice to action. He also adds that will has no determining ground; insofar as it can determine choice, it is instead practical reason itself. (MS 6:213) 2 2 This and all subsequent quotations from Kants The Metaphysics of Morals (hereafter MS) are from the translation by Mary Gregor (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996).

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42 Commenting on Kants distinction, Allison points out that will and choice can be understood to characterize respectively the legislative and executive functions of a unified faculty of volition. 3 As Kant states above, Wille is practical reason, the part of volition that presents objective principles or laws that serve to govern the agents actions; it is in this way that will is the ground determining choice to action. These laws include both categorical imperatives, or moral principles, and hypothetical imperatives, or prudential principles. Choice, as the part of volition considered in relation to action, serves to translate these principles into action. How does Willkr execute the imperatives presented to it by Wille? We find the answer when, later in MS, Kant declares that: Laws proceed from the will, maxims from choice. In man the latter is a free choice; the will, which is directed to nothing beyond the law itself, cannot be called either free or unfree, since it is not directed to actions but immediately to giving laws for the maxims of actions (and is, therefore, practical reason itself). Hence the will directs with absolute necessity, and is itself subject to no necessitation. (MS 6:226) Laws, being imperatives which are presented by Wille, proceed from it. Willkr responds to these imperatives by formulating maxims, or subjective principles, which put forward the actions to be taken to fulfill each of these imperatives. Willkr considers the maxims thus formulated, and decides and chooses which among the different maxims to adopt and act on. It is in this way that will (Wille) is the source of the laws that confront the human Willkr as imperatives. 4 Choice (Willkr), then, as the executive function and the recipient of these laws, can be said to act to decide, choose, and even wish under the governance of Wille. 5 3 Ibid., p. 129. 4 Ibid., p. 130. 5 Ibid., p. 130.

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43 McCarty, in putting forth his two-part model of Kantian moral motivation, identifies Wille, the part of volition that presents objective laws, with the cognitive apprehension of the higher value of the moral law, insofar as such apprehension only comes about when all laws (both moral and prudential ones) are presented to the agent, and the agent is able to compare all laws, and understand the higher value of the moral law. However, this cognitive apprehension, or the representation of objective principles by Wille, is not sufficient to bring about moral action. In order for moral action to take place, something must be present which influences the subjective choice (Willkr) of the agent during the moment of choice, so that the moral maxim is adopted over the maxims representing opposing inclinations. Given the WilleWillkr distinction, then, the question to ask with regards to Kantian moral motivation would be: in moral action, what is it that causes Willkr to decide and choose in favor of adopting the moral maxim over the nonmoral one? It is with such a question in mind that McCarty argues that, in addition to the cognitive aspect of respect, the apprehension of the moral law, another component is needed in Kants account of respect to explain how Kantian respect is capable of prevailing over opposing inclinations at the moment of choice. Such a component, McCarty argues, is the affective aspect of respect, or the moral feeling. This moral feeling is an affective, conative component which arises from the agents initial cognitive apprehension of the moral law, and which provides Willkr (choice) with the action-guiding force necessary to overcome the forces of opposing inclinations and bring about moral action. On the affectivist reading, then, a contest of inclinational strength occurs between the moral feeling and opposing inclinations at the moment of moral choice, and

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44 moral action results only if the inclinational strength of the affective moral feeling overcomes that of the opposing inclinations. How can moral feeling possess sufficient strength to overcome the opposing forces of inclination? McCarty brings our attention to the following passage from the MS: Obligation with regard to moral feeling can be only to cultivate it and to strengthen it through wonder at its inscrutable source. (MS 6: 399) Why should Kant deem the cultivation and strengthening of this moral feeling to be so important as to constitute an obligation? McCarty points out that, since the occurrence or non-occurrence of moral action is ultimately decided by whether the moral feeling is stronger than non-moral inclinations at the moment of choice, the agent is obliged to do everything to ensure that, at that moment, the moral feeling will win out over inclinations in strength. This being so, it then follows that the cultivation and strengthening of this feeling constitutes a duty; the agent, through a continuous process of moral education, seeks to prepare for this moment, so that the moral feeling will possess sufficient strength to overcome inclinations. In light of the above, then, the affectivist position, as put forward by McCarty, can be represented as follows in schema III below: Schema III Respect = 1. Apprehension of higher value of moral maxim (Wille) (cognitive) | |causes | 2. Affective moral feeling/Determination of subjective choice (Willkr) (action-guiding) | |leads to

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45 | Contest of strength between affective moral feeling and inclinations | |if outcome of contest is: | Affective moral feeling stronger than inclinations | | |leads to | | Being motivated to perform moral action 3.2 Textual Support for the Affectivist Reading It would seem, at first glance, that the affectivist would have a hard time finding textual evidence to support her model of Kantian moral motivation. After all, Kant is well-known for opposing the view that ones feelings have anything to do with the moral worth of actions, and rejecting any attempts to reduce reasons for moral actions to non-moral considerations such as desire for ones own happiness or the satisfaction of certain inclinations that may accrue from undertaking the moral action. He holds that rational moral reasons alone are sufficient to motivate moral action, independently of any sensuous inclinations or desires. Thus, an affectivist model of Kantian moral motivation, by holding that moral motivation involves an affective feeling (even if it is a moral feeling produced by the apprehension of the moral law), immediately becomes suspect. Indeed, there are places in the texts where Kant seems to be categorically rejecting any place for feelings of any sort in moral motivation. For instance, in a passage from KPV, Kant declares that:

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46 What is essential in the moral worth of actions is that the moral law should directly determine the will. If the determination of the will occurs in accordance with the moral law but only by means of a feeling of any kind whatsoever, which must be presupposed in order that the law may become a determining ground of the will, and if the action occurs not for the sake of the law, it has legality but not morality. (KPV 71) On a first reading, this passage seems unequivocally to endorse a purely rationalistic, anti-affectivist picture of Kantian moral motivation, for it insists that the rational commands of the moral law are in themselves sufficient to motivate moral action, and that actions motivated by affective feelings are at best in conformity with the moral law (thus possessing legality), but have no moral worth. Although the above passage rules out feelings which must be presupposed in order for the law to determine the will feelings which precede the wills apprehension of the moral law, and which must necessarily be present in order that the moral law may motivate the agent it doesnt have to imply that all feelings must be ruled out in moral motivation. Lewis White Beck astutely points out that the word presupposed is meant to guard against moral sense theories, which hold that moral action is motivated by certain non-moral feelings (the desire for happiness, etc.) which precede, and are necessary conditions for, moral motivation. Not all feelings, however, need be so presupposed. Beck goes on to note that, besides guarding against the moral-sense theorists, the word presupposed in this passage also leaves open the possibility that determination by the moral law may be followed by a subsequent feeling, one which directly results from the agents apprehension of the moral law. 6 That the apprehension of the moral law may be followed by a subsequent feeling seems to be corroborated by the following passage from MS, which states that: 6 Beck, op. cit., pp. 222-3.

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47 Every determination of choice [Bestimmung der Willkur] proceeds from the representation of a possible action to the deed through the feeling of pleasure or displeasure, taking an interest in the action or its effect. The state of feeling [der asthetische Zustand] here [] is either sensibly dependent [pathologisch] or moral. The former is that feeling which precedes the representation of the moral law; the latter, that which can only follow upon it (MS 6: 399). Here, Kant is describing every determination of choice, both moral and nonmoral. Both kinds of determination involve feeling; nonmoral determination involves pathological feelings, whereas moral determination involves moral feelings. Moral feelings are to be distinguished from non-moral ones, in that the former can only result from apprehension of the moral law, while the latter precedes such apprehension. Indeed, as far back as the early Lectures on Ethics, Kant pointedly emphasized the need for a moral feeling motivating moral action, in addition to the initial moral judgement: Moral feeling is the capacity to be affected by a moral judgement. My understanding may judge that an action is morally good, but it need not follow that I shall do that action which I judge morally good: from understanding to performance is still a far cry. If this judgment were to move me to do the deed, it would be moral feeling; but it is quite incomprehensible that the mind should have a motive force to judge. The understanding, obviously, can judge, but to give to this judgment of the understanding a compelling force, to make it an incentive that can move the will to perform the actionthis is the philosophers stone! 7 The above passage, coming from an early work, may be discounted as unrepresentative of Kants mature moral theory. However, in the much later Religion within the Limits of Reason Alone, we find Kant apparently making a similar affirmation of the motivational role of moral feeling when he declares that: This capacity for simple respect for the moral law within us would thus be moral feeling, which in and through itself does not constitute an end of the natural predisposition except so far as it is the motivating force of the will [Triebfeder der Willkr] (R 23). 8 7 Immanuel Kant, Lectures on Ethics, trans. L. Infield (New York, 1963), pp. 44-5. 8 This and all subsequent quotations from Kants Religion Within the Limits of Reason Alone (hereafter R) are from the translation by T.M. Greene and H.H. Hudson (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1960). All

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48 The word Willkr in this passage, which Greene and Hudson have chosen to render as will, is the same word that is translated as choice in MS, and Triebfeder is the same word that has been rendered in KPV as the subjective incentive, rather than as the objective motivating force. (as Greene and Hudson have done here) This implies that when Kant speaks here of the moral feeling motivating the will, he is unmistakably speaking of the incentive that motivates subjective human choice (Willkr) to moral action. This reinforces McCartys view that, in addition to the moral law representing its objective commands to the will, the subjective component of volition, Willkr, also needs to be motivated in a certain way, in order for moral action to take place. Thus, the above passage from R would seem to confirm that the incentive capable of motivating subjective Willkr is an affective moral feeling. 3.3 Apparent Strengths of the Affectivist Reading As outlined above, the affectivist holds that the initial, cognitive apprehension of the moral law generates an affective moral feeling. If the strength of this moral feeling is greater than that of opposing inclinations at the moment of moral choice, then the performance of the moral action (instead of the satisfaction of the opposing inclination) will result. This, of course, does not mean that agents motivated by the moral feeling of respect always do overcome opposing inclinations. No matter how strong the moral feeling is in the agent, circumstances can arise in which the strength of opposing inclinations is greater than that of the moral feeling, and the agent, overwhelmed by these inclinations, fails to act morally. Indeed, Kant states that it is precisely the human conditions perpetual susceptibility to being affected by nonmoral inclination that makes the constraint of duty a relevant concern for the moral agent; without this susceptibility, we would be capable of holiness (not merely virtue), and the concept of duty would simply not apply to us. In R, Kant gives an elaborate account of the inherent moral imperfection of human nature, explaining that all human agents are susceptible to being affected by nonmoral citations will follow the pagination in this translation. For instance, R 23 refers to page 23 of Greene and Hudsons translation.

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49 inclinations to three different degrees. These are: wickedness, impurity, and frailty. The wicked are those who, although capable of being moved by moral reasons for action, always perversely consider nonmoral reasons for action as superior to moral ones. Although their actions may sometimes accord with duty, they are never done for the sake of duty. Those who are impure, on the other hand, do assign some weight to moral reasons in deciding among different courses of action, but do not consider moral reasons as being in themselves sufficient reasons for action. Thus, the impure never undertake moral action purely for moral reasons, but always in conjunction with other, nonmoral reasons (for instance, the satisfaction of certain inclinations that may accrue from undertaking the moral action). The frail, unlike the wicked and the impure, possess at least purity of heart; the frail agent is convinced that moral reasons provide sufficient reasons for action in and of themselves. However, despite this intellectual conviction, she remains susceptible to moral failure through weakness of the human heart. 9 The imperfectly rational will, to which the commands of the moral law are presented as imperatives, is characterized by such a condition of frailty; such a will recognizes that the moral law provides an all-sufficient reason for action, yet, despite this intellectual conviction, remains prone to moral failure through weakness at the moment of moral choice. Giving voice to the predicament of the individual in the condition of frailty, Kant laments that: I adopt the good (the law) into the maxim of my will (Willkur), but this good, which objectively, in its ideal conception [. .], is an irresistible incentive, is subjectively [. .], when the maxim is to be followed, the weaker (in comparison with inclination) (R 25) 9 For more details, see R 24 5.

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50 The affectivist reading explains this phenomenon as a case of moral weakness of will, depicting it as a case in which the agent in the condition of frailty, despite having objectively represented to herself the superior value of the moral maxim in her will (Wille), thus gaining intellectual conviction in its supremacy, nevertheless fails to muster the requisite strength of moral feeling to overcome opposing inclinations and move subjective choice (Willkr) in the direction of moral action. The fact that the affectivist reading possesses the resources to account for this condition of frailty can be seen as a strength of the reading, insofar as such an explanation seems to bring about a more subtle, nuanced picture of Kantian moral motivation. As stated in the previous chapter, on the modified intellectualist account, there is really no such thing as moral weakness of will. Considering the various courses of action open to her, the agent formulates the moral maxim to preserve and promote rational nature as one among many maxims. Insofar as the agent is rational, she should always be aware of the absolute value of rational nature, and the rational compulsion to act to preserve and promote rational nature should, in its ideal conception, be an irresistible incentive causing her to undertake moral action to preserve and promote rational nature. However, being frail, the agent is susceptible to lapses of rationality, which cause her, at the moment of moral choice, to fail to see the higher value of the moral course of action, so that the moral reason for action appears weaker in comparison with inclination. Thus, both the affectivist and modified intellectualist readings possess the resources to account for the condition of frailty. It remains to be seen how both accounts fare with regards to other, more fundamental issues, which I shall examine in the next section.

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51 3.4 Difficulties with the Affectivist Reading 3.4.1 Difficulties Associated With Autonomy and Willful Disobedience to the Moral Law Though it makes for a compelling account of Kantian moral motivation in certain respects, the positing of an affective moral feeling also bedevils the affectivist with considerable difficulties, problems which ultimately prove insuperable, as I will go on to show. Perhaps the most immediate difficulty facing the affectivist reading is that there seems to be at least some tension between attributing the outcome of moral motivation to deterministic, heteronomous processes characterized by contests of affective forces, on the one hand, and the familiar Kantian picture of moral motivation as consisting primarily of the free choice of an autonomous rational agent, on the other. Surely, one might point out, if moral action is to be the result of a free choice on the part of an autonomous agent, shouldnt the process leading up to such a choice be completely independent of degrees of heteronomous affective feeling? Addressing this difficulty, McCarty begins by pointing out that, in cases in which the agent fails to act morally, moral weakness of will, or deficiency in the strength of moral feeling, is a factor in the agents choice only because the agent already recognizes the obligation imposed by the moral law. If she did not apprehend and understand the higher value of the moral maxim, no moral feeling would have arisen, and no contest would have taken place between moral feelings and non-moral inclinations. Recognition of being under an obligation (and the battle of affective forces that ensues) can only come about from an autonomous agent exercising free choice. Thus, far from undermining autonomy, the affectivist reading takes the freedom of the agent to be already well

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52 established, and employs the Kantian picture of autonomous free choice as the starting-point of its motivational story. 10 Thus far, the affectivist has ably explained how the moral agent exercises free choice in recognizing the superior value of the moral maxim, yet, depending on the strength of the resulting affective moral feeling relative to that of opposing inclinations, may or may not undertake moral action. As mentioned above, this describes the moral motivational process in the case of agents in the condition of frailty. What about agents in the other two human conditions mentioned in R, namely, those of wickedness and impurity? McCarty points out that, in R, Kant states that these three conditions of moral character are to be understood as freely adopted practical attitudes, attitudes whose adoption depend on a prior noumenal free choice. As the wicked and the impure do not recognize the supremacy of moral reasons for action to the same extent as the frail, such reasons will generate less compelling motivational force for the impure and the wicked. Thus, for the impure and the wicked, the moral law does not objectively determine the will (Wille) in the same way in which it does for the frail, and the resulting affective moral feeling influencing choice (Willkr) is also correspondingly weaker for such individuals. Given McCartys explanation, however, one may still reasonably ask: How is it that agents come to adopt the attitudes that they have, becoming wicked or impure rather than just frail? McCarty, as noted earlier, claims that Kants position on this question is that these attitudes resulted from a prior noumenal free choice. If McCartys claim is to be believed, then we would simply have to conclude that the adoption of these attitudes is 10 McCarty, op. cit, pp. 27-8.

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53 an otherwordly matter that permits of no systematic theoretical explanation, since no theoretical claims can be made about the nature of noumenal entities. But do we really have to settle for such an unsatisfyingly mysterious answer to such an important question? Explaining the difference between a morally good man and an evil one, Kant states that: . the distinction between a good man and one who is evil cannot lie in the difference between the incentives which they adopt into their maxim (not in the content of the maxim), but rather must depend upon subordination (the form of the maxim), i.e., which of the two incentives [the moral and the nonmoral] he makes the condition of the other. Consequently man (even the best) is evil only in that he reverses the moral order of the incentives when he adopts them into his maxim when he becomes aware that they [the moral incentive and the nonmoral] cannot remain on a par with each other but that one must be subordinated to the other as its supreme condition, he makes the incentive of self-love and its inclinations the condition of obedience to the moral law; whereas, on the contrary, the latter, as the supreme condition of the satisfaction of the former, ought to have been adopted into the universal maxim of the Willkr as the sole incentive (R 31-2). Thus, for Kant, the basic distinction between a morally good person and an evil one lies in whether the person recognizes the superior value of the moral incentive, limiting the satisfaction of nonmoral inclinations in order to fulfill the dictates of the moral law. This basic distinction can also be applied, with slight modifications, to the three human conditions. The frail person is one who recognizes the superiority of the moral incentive and subordinates nonmoral incentives to it accordingly, while the impure and the wicked, not recognizing this superiority, do not subordinate nonmoral incentives to moral ones; indeed, the wicked perversely reverse the order of subordination, limiting the fulfillment of moral incentives in order to fulfill nonmoral inclinations. It should be abundantly clear from the above that there is nothing otherwordly in Kants explanation of how agents come to adopt the practical attitudes associated with frailty, impurity or wickedness. Individuals becomes frail, impure or wicked in direct

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54 accordance with the extent to which they subordinate nonmoral reasons for action to moral ones. Of course, one may still ask: What causes the agent to decide on one order of subordination over another, becoming, say, frail, rather than impure or wicked? As noted above, the affectivist account of Kantian moral motivation has as its starting-point the agents apprehension of the higher value of the moral maxim. Because the affectivist story begins at the point at which the agent recognizes (or, in the case of the wicked and the impure, fails to recognize) the higher value of the moral maxim, and goes on to posit an affective feeling (or the lack thereof) arising from such a recognition (or non-recognition), such a story necessarily lacks the resources to explain what happened before the apprehension of the moral law; thus, an affectivist like McCarty could do little more than to attribute the agents becoming frail, wicked, or impure to a noumenal prior free choice. But just because no systematic explanation of how an agent decides on a particular order of subordination can be found on the affectivist reading does not mean that no such explanation is possible. Perhaps we could begin by considering what could lead an agent to, in Kants terms, reverse the moral order of the incentives when he adopts them into his maxims, becoming impure or wicked. What could cause an agent who is otherwise capable of being motivated by the moral law to willfully regard the satisfaction of her nonmoral inclinations as being the most valuable course of action to be taken? In putting forward my modified intellectualist reading, I have argued, in the previous chapter, that a lapse in rationality can cause the agent to fail to recognize the absolute value of rational nature, instead regarding the other person as a mere means to be exploited in furthering her own selfish inclinations. Insofar as action taken to fulfill

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55 the commands of the moral law is also action taken to preserve and promote rational nature, my earlier argument can also be applied to explaining how it is that an agent could decide to subordinate moral considerations to nonmoral ones. The impure or wicked agent can be understood to be suffering a lapse in rationality which prevents her from recognizing the absolute value of rational nature, misleading her into regarding certain nonmoral maxims as possessing greater value than all others, including moral ones. Because she is thus misled, she accordingly subordinates moral incentives to nonmoral ones, disobeying the dictates of the moral law in order to satisfy certain nonmoral inclinations. Misguided by the lapse in rationality, the agent also fails to apprehend the higher value of the moral law, and the objective determination of Wille by the moral law simply does not occur. Hence, the failure of the affectivist reading to provide a systematic account of how imperfectly rational agents might willfully disobey the dictates of the moral law can only undermine the overall credibility of such a reading; conversely, the success of my modified intellectualist reading in addressing this issue can only add to its overall credibility and compellingness. 3.4.2 More Fundamental Worries Aside from the above-mentioned difficulties with autonomy and willful disobedience of the moral law, the affectivist must also confront problems of a more fundamental nature, problems which cast doubt on the very theoretical underpinnings of the account. As mentioned earlier, the affectivist account derives its doctrinal basis chiefly from the WilleWillkr distinction. As outlined above, Wille, as practical reason, presents objective principles to Willkr, which then decides and chooses which of the maxims representing each of these objective principles to adopt and act on. Building on

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56 this distinction, McCarty goes on to argue that while the representation of objective principles by Wille enables the agent to understand the superiority of moral maxims over nonmoral ones, subjective Willkr must also be influenced in a certain way in order for moral action to occur. This subjective influencing of Willkr, McCarty argues, is accomplished by the affective moral feeling that arises from the objective cognitive apprehension of the moral maxims value. Compelling as McCartys argument above may seem, it gives us only half of the motivational picture that arises from the WilleWillkr distinction. As noted above, the objective principles that Wille presents to Willkr consist of both moral categorical imperatives and prudential hypothetical imperatives. According to McCarty, the moral law, presented to the agent as categorical imperatives, gives rise to an affective force (the moral feeling) which is sufficient by itself to motivate moral action. If prudential hypothetical imperatives are also presented to Willkr by Wille, and if at least some of these hypothetical imperatives are carried out by the agent, it follows that some kind of affective force must also arise from the agents apprehension of these hypothetical imperatives that is strong enough to motivate her to take action in accordance with these hypothetical imperatives. What could such a force be? Such a question may seem, at first glance, to be easily answerable, and may even seem trivial. For one, in acting in accordance with a hypothetical imperative, the agent aims to attain a certain end, and there are good grounds to believe that the means-end reasoning involved in striving to attain the particular end exerts a certain motivational force on the agent. 11 However, even 11 Incidentally, in Skepticism about Practical Reason, Christine Korsgaard carries out an interesting discussion about how means-end reasoning can motivate the agent, and how failure to be moved by such reasoning (which she terms true irrationality) is symptomatic of a general failure to be moved by considerations of practical reasoning. For more details, see Korsgaard, op. cit., pp. 311-334.

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57 if there is motivational force arising from such means-end consideration, such force can arise only after the agent has already decided to adopt the nonmoral maxim and pursue the particular end associated with it, and thus cannot be the affective force that influences the agent to carry out the particular prudential imperative in the first place. One might be tempted to simply identify this affective force with the affective force that arises from particular inclinations. On such a view, then, the affective forces of inclination are somehow incorporated into hypothetical imperatives, and when the agent is presented with a hypothetical imperative, she is also influenced by the affective inclinational force incorporated therein, and is influenced to act in accordance with the hypothetical imperative so as to satisfy the inclination in question. This seems an especially attractive view to hold, not least because it provides a ready parallel with the case of moral motivation: just as moral motivation is accomplished by an affective moral feeling, the proponent of such a view argues, so is nonmoral motivation accomplished by affective forces springing from particular inclinations. Indeed, there are good reasons to ascribe such a view to McCarty. Explaining the relation between the motivational forces of inclinations and the maxims formulated by Willkr, McCarty states that the motivational forces of [nonmoral] incentives are incorporated and somehow preserved in maxims as choice-determinants. 12 If McCarty holds that, for Kant, the motivational forces of inclinations are incorporated in maxims, it seems reasonable to infer that McCarty also holds that the same motivational forces also are found in the hypothetical imperatives upon which the maxims are based. Such a view, though seemingly attractive, ultimately leads to intractable difficulties. A hypothetical imperative, like a categorical 12 McCarty, op. cit., p. 30.

PAGE 66

58 one, issues from Wille. As Kant states in the earlier-quoted passage from MS 6:213, Wille is practical reason itself, and being the ground determining choice to action has no determining ground. The objective commands issuing from Wille, both categorical and hypothetical, being commands of practical reason, must be the ultimate sources of all motivation, and cannot be preceded by any other motivational force. If a hypothetical imperative is capable of motivating action only because it has incorporated within itself a prior inclinational force, then the hypothetical imperative is not the ultimate source of motivation, since it depends on the prior inclinational force for its motivational power. This goes against Kants conception of an objective command issuing from Wille. Thus, if there is an affective force arising from the agents apprehension of a hypothetical imperative, it can neither be the motivational force arising from means-end consideration, nor the affective force arising from inclinations. The burden then falls on the affectivist to explain how such an affective force can somehow mysteriously arise from the agents contemplation of the hypothetical imperative. This difficulty of the affectivist reading in accounting for the motivating affective force of nonmoral hypothetical imperatives can only cast grave doubts on the credibility of positing analogous affective forces in moral motivation. After all, if the role of affective forces in nonmoral motivation cannot be clearly established, how much faith can one place in such forces in the area of moral motivation, which Kant famously held to have nothing to do with affective feelings? Such a problem of explaining the affective force arising from hypothetical imperatives simply does not arise for my modified intellectualist reading, because on my reading, no affective forces arise from imperatives, whether hypothetical or categorical. Like the standard intellectualist position (held by Reath and Allison), I subscribe to the

PAGE 67

59 Incorporation Thesis, which holds that the rational choices of an autonomous agent, both moral and nonmoral, are decided not by any affective forces, but by Willkrs considering and then adopting maxims after comparing the values of the different maxims formulated in response to the imperatives presented to it by Wille. Hypothetical imperatives may arise as a result of practical reasons considering various sensuous inclinations which the will is faced with, but these inclinations play no part in the decision-making process of the rational agent; if the agent decides to adopt a particular maxim based on a particular hypothetical imperative, she does so only as a result of considering and comparing the values of all the maxims formulated, not because that particular hypothetical imperative gives rise to an affective force that overcomes the affective forces of all other imperatives. 3.5 Conclusion I have shown that both the standard intellectualist and affectivist positions with regards to Kantian moral motivation are lacking in their own ways. The standard intellectualist position, while staying true to Kants injunction that moral motivation has nothing to do with affective feelings, does not offer a convincing account of how the mere cognitive apprehension of the moral law can do both the work of enabling the agent to understand the higher value of the moral maxim and motivating the agent to undertake moral action. The affectivist, on the other hand, provides a compelling account of how Kantian moral motivation occurs as a result of a motivating affective feeling arising from the agents initial cognitive apprehension of the moral law. Such a reading, as we saw above, can be supported by careful yet creative interpretation of Kants various remarks concerning what he terms the moral feeling of respect in his various moral works. Despite its apparent merits, such a reading ultimately falls short, because closer

PAGE 68

60 examination reveals that the affectivist account fails to consistently address various issues central to both Kants moral psychology and the basic principles of his motivational framework. Given the failings of both readings, the only sensible course left to the thoughtful student of Kantian ethics is to attempt to chart a middle path between the two, remedying the inadequacies of the standard intellectualist account while staying clear of the inconsistencies that arise from subscribing to an affectivist view. This I seek to do by advancing my modified intellectualist reading, in which I argued that Kantian moral motivation, while purely rational in nature, consists of two components. The first of these, the awareness of the absolute value of rational nature, is also found in the standard intellectualist account as the apprehension of the higher value of the moral maxim. I then proceeded to argue that this awareness by itself does not accomplish the action-guiding task of motivating moral action, and went on to show that an additional action-guiding rational component, the rational compulsion arising from such awareness (which Reath had relegated to being merely the negative pain arising from the moral laws thwarting of inclinations), is needed in order to motivate moral action. An analogous action-guiding component is also posited by the affectivist reading, although, on that reading, the action-guiding component (the moral feeling) is affective, not rational, in nature. It is in positing this additional component that is action-guiding, yet rational in nature, that my reading can be said to be charting a middle path between the affectivist and standard intellectualist accounts.

PAGE 69

APPENDIX LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS OF KANTS WORKS USED IN THIS THESIS KPV Critique of Practical Reason, Kritik der Practischen Vernunft Gr. Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals, Grundlegung Zur Metaphysik der Sitten MS The Metaphysics of Morals, Metaphysik der Sitten R Religion within the Limits of Reason Alone, Die Religion innerhalb die Grenzen der blossen Vernunft 61

PAGE 70

LIST OF REFERENCES Allison, Henry, Kants Theory of Freedom, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990. Beck, Lewis White, A Commentary on Kants Critique of Practical Reason, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1960. Kant, Immanuel, Critique of Practical Reason, trans. Lewis White Beck, Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall, 1993. Kant, Immanuel, Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals, trans. James W. Ellington, Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Co., 1993. Kant, Immanuel, Lectures on Ethics, trans. L. Infield, New York, 1963 Kant, Immanuel, The Metaphysics of Morals, trans. Mary Gregor, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996. Kant, Immanuel, Religion Within the Limits of Reason Alone, trans. T.M. Greene and H.H. Hudson, New York: Harper & Brothers, 1960. Korsgaard, Christine, Skepticism about Practical Reason, in Creating the Kingdom of Ends, ed. Christine Korsgaard, Cambridge : Cambridge University Press, 1996, pp. 311-34. McCarty, Richard, Motivation and Moral Choice in Kants Theory of Rational Agency, Kant-Studien, 85 (1994): 15-31. McCarty, Richard, Kantian Moral Motivation and the Feeling of Respect, Journal of the History of Philosophy, Jl 93; 31(3): 421-435. Paton, H.J., The Categorical Imperative, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1971. Reath, Andrews, Kants Theory of Moral Sensibility, Kant-Studien, 80 (1989): 284-302. 62

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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Ching-E Nobel Ang was born in Singapore on January 24 th 1976. Even in his early teens, he manifested an unusual inclination towards the philosophical side of things: He resisted learning algebra, because none of his sixth-grade teachers could give him a satisfactory explanation of why the use of natural numbers had to be replaced with Xs, Ys and Zs. After much soul-searching, resisting numerous attempts by his parents to persuade him to pursue more economically viable courses of study, Ang decided to stay true to his philosophical leanings, and graduated from the National University of Singapore (NUS) in May 2001 with a B.A (Honors) in philosophy. After graduating from NUS, Ang matriculated in the philosophy graduate program at the University of Florida in August 2001. 63


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RESPECT AS AWARENESS OF RATIONAL NATURE: A MODIFIED
INTELLECTUALIST VIEW OF KANT'S MORAL PSYCHOLOGY

















By

CHING-E NOBEL ANG


A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
MASTER OF ARTS

UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA


2004

































Copyright 2004

by

Ching-E Nobel Ang

































To my friends everywhere















ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

I am greatly indebted to my advisor, Assistant Professor Crystal Thorpe, for her

unstinting patience in our many discussions, listening to my many less than well-formed

ideas and helping me to formulate them into coherent arguments.

Many thanks to Associate Professor John Palmer, whose incisive comments and

penetrating insights have often helped me to articulate thoughts that I could not otherwise

have given voice to.

Many thanks to Assistant Professor Jon Tresan, whose critical Humean intuitions

added an invaluable perspective in my writing of this thesis.

I thank my fellow Buddhists in the Gainesville chapter of the Soka Gakkai

International USA (SGI-USA), whose non-academic spiritual support and friendship

have proven to be an invaluable source of strength through the many peaks and valleys of

the writing process.

I am especially indebted to Professor Ken Saragosa of the Soka University of

America, Aliso Viejo, for his friendship and unstinting support.

A debt of gratitude is also owed to Danielle Ellickson, in whom I always find

fresh courage and strength to press on, sometimes in the most unexpected ways.

Last but not least, I also express my gratitude to my parents, family and friends

back in Singapore, who are always in my thoughts.
















TABLE OF CONTENTS


page

A C K N O W L ED G M EN T S ................................................ ........................................... iv

A B STR A C T ..................................................................................................... .............. vii

CHAPTER

1 IN TR O D U C T IO N ................................................................. .... ..... ...............

2 THE IN TELLECTUALIST VIEW ....................................................... ................ 10

2.1 A Preliminary Outline of My Modified Intellectualist View.........................10
2.2 A Preliminary Outline of the Standard Intellectualist Position, As
A rticulated by R eath and A llison................................................ ................ 11
2.3 Inconsistencies Between Reath's Reading and the Texts.............................. 13
2.4 How Respect for the Moral Law Wins Over Opposing Inclinations,
B ringing A bout M oral A ction..................................................... ............... 15
2.4.1 The Nature of Inclinations, and How They Influence Choice .........16
2.4.2 How the Moral Law Checks Inclinations....................................19
2.5 Apprehension of Value of Moral Maxim Identified as the Awareness of
A absolute V alue of Rational N ature .......................................... ................ 22
2.6 Awareness of Rational Nature as Giving Rise to a Rational, Action-guiding
Compulsion or "Feeling" of Respect, Which Motivates Moral Action.........29
2 .7 In terim S u m m ary ..............................................................................................3 2
2.8 The Possibility of Being Motivated by Awareness of Rational Nature............35
2.9 Alleged Moral Weakness of Will as Lapse of Rationality...............................37

3 TH E A FFE C TIV IST V IEW ........................................ ....................... ................ 40

3.1 A Preliminary Outline of the Affectivist View ............................ ................ 40
3.2 Textual Support for the Affectivist Reading................................ ................ 45
3.3 Apparent Strengths of the Affectivist Reading ...........................................48
3.4 Difficulties with the Affectivist Reading ..................................... ................ 51
3.4.1 Difficulties Associated With Autonomy and Willful Disobedience
to the M oral Law ....................................... .... ........ .. .......... .. 51
3.4.2 M ore Fundam ental W orries ........................................ ................ 55
3 .5 C o n clu sio n ....................................................................... .................... .. 5 9









APPENDIX LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS OF KANT'S WORKS USED IN THIS
T H E S I S ....................................................................................................................... 6 1

L IST O F R E F E R E N C E S ...................................................................................................62

BIO GR APH ICAL SK ETCH .................................................................... ................ 63















Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts

RESPECT AS AWARENESS OF RATIONAL NATURE: A MODIFIED
INTELLECTUALIST READING OF KANT'S MORAL PSYCHOLOGY

By

Ching-E Nobel Ang

August, 2004

Chair: Crystal Thorpe
Major Department: Philosophy

Anyone who has undertaken even a cursory study of Kant's moral philosophy

eventually has to confront the question: How can an abstract moral law move the

imperfectly rational human will to moral action? It is generally agreed that Kant's notion

of respect plays a central role in his account of moral motivation.

While the central role of respect in Kantian moral motivation is uncontroversial, the

further question of how such motivation by respect occurs is the source of debate. In their

answers to this question, commentators are divided into two camps. Staying true to

Kant's insistence that moral motivation is a purely rational process independent of any

affective feelings, the intellectualists hold that apprehension of the moral law is by itself

sufficient to motivate moral action. The affectivists agree with the intellectualists that

moral motivation begins with the rational apprehension of the moral law. However, they

argue that a subsequent affective feeling arises from this initial apprehension, and it is the









inclinational strength of this feeling vis-a-vis that of opposing nonmoral inclinations that

is decisive in determining whether moral action results.

My view is that the intellectualist reading, in keeping with Kant's insistence that

moral motivation is purely a rational matter, represents the more credible account of

Kantian moral motivation. Such a reading, however, is not without difficulty, for it is

somewhat mysterious how a purely rational conception can motivate one to action. I

argue that apprehension of the moral law can be identified with the agent's awareness of

the absolute value of rational nature. I will also show that, for Kant, rational nature is

central to our personhood. Insofar as rational nature is central to our personhood, then,

awareness of this nature should by itself be sufficient to motivate us to undertake moral

action to preserve and promote it, whatever the fickle orientation of our affective

feelings. Therefore, insofar as we are rational, awareness of rational nature gives rise to

an irresistible non-affective compulsion to undertake moral action. While it may still be

somewhat mysterious how such a rational compulsion could move one to moral action, I

argue that my modified intellectualist reading, in analyzing respect as awareness of

rational nature, represents such a motivational process as being a systematic expression

of Kant's fundamental convictions about personhood. As such, my reading is to be

regarded as a credible representation of Kant's moral psychology.














CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION

My aim in this thesis is to show that, in Kant, motivation to moral action springs

from the agent's awareness of the absolute value of rational nature. This awareness gives

rise to a rational compulsion which motivates the agent to moral action, insofar as she is

rational. I seek to achieve this aim by showing that the Kantian notion of respect, which

is widely held to play a central role in Kantian moral motivation, can ultimately be

understood as consisting of two components: the cognitive awareness of the absolute

value of rational nature as an end-in-itself, and the action-guiding, rational compulsion

arising from such awareness.

One may ask: why single out awareness of rational nature as an end-in-itself as

playing such a motivational role? In order to answer this question, I shall have to relate

briefly my own, somewhat unorthodox reading of Kant's Grounding for the Metaphysics

ofMorals. I believe that it is plausible to see the Grounding as being directed to the moral

skeptic, or someone who does not believe that moral claims are valid.1 On this reading,

Kant may be seen as trying to demonstrate that moral commands are both binding and

universally valid to a reader who is not already disposed to think this the case. On such a

reading, the various formulations of the Categorical Imperative are not merely different

representations of the commands issuing from the moral law. Besides elucidating the

commands of the moral law, they can also be seen as attempting to convince the skeptical

1 I am not saying that this is all there is to moral skepticism. It is possible to be a moral skeptic in many
other ways: one could, for instance, hold that there are no moral values, rather than deny the validity of
moral claims. For the purposes of my illustration, I have focused on only one kind of moral skeptic.









reader that moral commands are binding. Thus Kant begins by putting forth the first two

Universal Law formulations of the Categorical Imperative (at Gr. 402 and Gr. 420-1),2

essentially attempting to explain to the reader that moral transgressions are unacceptable

because they result in contradictions of conceptions and willing, and that, in order to

avoid such contradictions, one should act from the motive of duty. The third formulation

of the Categorical Imperative, the formula of the End in Itself, can be seen, in such a

context, as picking up where the first two formulations left off. Contradictions in

conception and willing ought not to be committed, Kant can be seen to argue, because

such contradictions, more than being just violations of a certain law, ultimately degrade

rational nature both in oneself and in other rational beings. Kant holds that rationality is

essential to personhood (Gr. 428); to do things that degrade rational nature is, therefore,

to degrade something central to one's nature as a person. There are, admittedly, moves

that the skeptic may make to escape Kant's argument here. He may try to argue for a

form of egoism, claiming that only rational nature in his own person has value, and that

other individuals exist only to preserve and promote rational nature in his own person. He

may also dispute Kant's claim of the centrality of rationality to personhood. That the

skeptic has to resort to such drastic moves, however, is an indication of the

compellingness that awareness of the value of rational nature possesses as a claim that

moral commands are binding.





2 This and all subsequent quotations from and references to the Grounding (hereafter simply abbreviated as
Gr.) are from James W. Ellington's translation of Kant's Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals
(Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Co., 1993).









I do not mean to say, of course, that the moral law represented as universal law and

morality as regard for rational nature are somehow separate. Kant famously alludes at the

end of the Critique of Practical Reason to "the starry heavens above me and the moral

law within me" (KPV 161).3 The moral law is described as being "within" because it

pertains to something internal to myself as a person: it is the law that governs how

rational nature in myself-and, by extension, in other persons-should be treated, so as

to accord to my own person (and others) the respect that rational nature properly

deserves. Thus, to obey the moral law is ultimately to act to preserve and promote

rational nature in both my own person and those of others. This offers further support for

my thesis, for if action from the commands of the moral law is ultimately action

undertaken in order to accord some kind of respect to rational nature, then it seems more

than plausible that when Kant speaks of moral actions being motivated by respect for the

moral law, he is in fact referring to actions motivated by a certain regard or awareness of

the value of rational nature.

Although the Kantian notion of respect is central to understanding Kant's moral

psychology and, by extension, his moral philosophy as a whole, the amount of work done

on this subject in recent years has been relatively small. Recent work in this area has been

done by Andrews Reath, Henry Allison, Richard McCarty, and Lewis White Beck. These

commentators focus on the question of how respect is supposed to move the agent to

moral action. Their views on this question broadly divide into two camps. The

intellectualists (Reath and Allison) hold that the conscious apprehension of the moral law



3 This and all subsequent quotations from the Critique of Practical Reason (hereafter KPV) are taken from
Lewis White Beck's translation of Kant's Critique of Practical Reason (Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall,
1993).









by the will is by itself sufficient to move the agent to undertake moral action. The

affectivists (McCarty and Beck),4 on the other hand, hold that an affective element is

needed in addition to the initial rational apprehension of the moral law, in order for moral

action to result. While agreeing with the intellectualists that the Kantian moral

motivational process begins with a cognitive apprehension of the moral law's value, the

affectivists argue that moral action takes place only because, from this initial

apprehension of the moral law's value, an affective feeling arises (which the affectivists

identify with what Kant terms the "moral feeling") which serves to move the will towards

moral action at the moment of moral choice, winning over opposing inclinations in a

contest of inclinational strength.

I consider my position an intellectualist one, insofar as the awareness of rational

nature as an end-in-itself, and the rational compulsion arising from such awareness, are

rational conceptions which are sufficient by themselves to motivate the agent to

undertake moral action, without recourse to any affective feelings. I shall name my

position the "modified intellectualist reading/account", to distinguish it from

intellectualist readings advanced by Reath and Allison, which I shall refer to as the

"standard intellectualist" reading. This is primarily for the purpose of distinguishing their

reading from mine. However, since there are no other recent proponents of the

intellectualist reading, naming the Reath/Allison position the "standard intellectualist"

reading is perhaps less inappropriate than might at first be thought.



4 Lewis White Beck is an affectivist in a somewhat qualified sense. While he recognizes that respect
consists of an affective element, and gives an insightful analysis of this element in his commentary on the
second Critique, he seems at best ambivalent about the motivational role of this affective element. For
more details, see Lewis White Beck, A Commentary on Kant's Critique of Practical Reason (Chicago: The
University of Chicago Press, 1960), pp. 209-36.









In this thesis, I will argue that the intellectualists are right in holding that Kantian

respect is to be understood as a purely rational representation, one that has no need of any

affective feeling (not even a moral feeling subsequent to the rational apprehension of the

moral law's value) in motivating the will towards moral action. While agreeing with the

standard intellectualist position on this account, I also argue that this position, as

articulated by Reath and Allison, inadequately explains how such rational apprehension

motivates the will towards moral action. Specifically, I will show that the standard

intellectualist position fails to demonstrate that this rational apprehension is capable of

doing both the cognitive work of enabling the agent to understand the higher value of the

moral maxim, and the action-guiding task of moving the will to adopt the moral maxim

and undertake moral action. I argue that such apprehension-which, I will show, is

ultimately to be identified with the awareness of the absolute value of rational nature-

does not by itself move the agent to moral action. Reath has dismissed the "feeling" of

respect as being merely the negative sensation of pain arising from the moral law's

thwarting of inclinations. I argue that this "feeling" is actually a rational compulsion

arising from the awareness of rational nature, and plays the action-guiding role of

motivating the agent towards moral action.

While intellectualist accounts have the merit of staying true to Kant's insistence

that moral motivation is a purely rational process that has nothing to do with feelings,

attempts to explain how moral motivation can result from purely rational considerations

are inevitably fraught with difficulty. My modified intellectualist account is no exception.

What I attempt to do, however, is to show that this difficulty lies at the very heart of

Kant's moral philosophy and, indeed, his very conception of what it means to be a









person. It may be mysterious how awareness of rational nature moves one to moral

action. But, insofar as we agree with Kant that rationality is central to our sense of

ourselves as persons, this centrality tends to make plausible and even compelling the idea

that the mere consideration of how we might preserve and promote this thing so central to

ourselves can move us to action, even if we do not know the exact mechanism by which

this occurs.

I will argue for my reading via several steps. I will begin with a careful exposition

of the standard intellectualist view, as held by Reath and Allison. This standard

intellectualist view will be represented in schemas II and IIa. I will point out the

inadequacies of this view and put forward my own, modified intellectualist reading in the

process. My reading will be represented in schemas I and Ia.

Having articulated my modified intellectualist reading and shown how it remedies

the inadequacies of the standard intellectualist reading, I will then turn to an exposition

and examination of the affectivist view, as put forward by Richard McCarty, representing

it in schema III. I will point out the inadequacies of such a view in dealing with certain

important issues in Kantian moral motivation and show that my modified intellectualist

reading can respond to the concerns motivating the affectivist reading without

succumbing to its problems.

For the sake of convenience, I have included, on the following three pages,

diagrammatic synopses of the various expository schemas employed in this thesis. They

will be fully explained in what follows.









The standard intellectualist view

Schema II

Respect

Apprehension of moral law (both cognitive and action-guiding)


leads to


Being motivated to perform moral action
Accompanied by:
Sensuous feeling of pain/"Feeling of respect"




Schema IIa

Respect

Apprehension of moral maxim (both cognitive and action-guiding)

|leads to

Value of moral maxim > Value of maxim founded on inclination

|leads to

Moral maxim adopted by will

| leads to

Being motivated to perform moral action
Accompanied by:
Sensuous feeling of pain/"Feeling of respect"









The modified intellectualist view


Schema I

Respect

1. Apprehension of the higher value of the moral law (cognitive aspect)
and
2. "Feeling" of respect (action-guiding aspect)


leads to


Being motivated to perform moral action


Schema la

Respect

1. Awareness of the absolute value of rational nature (cognitive)
and
2. Rational compulsion or "feeling" of respect (action-guiding)

|leads to

Being motivated to perform moral action to preserve and further rational nature









The affectivist view

Schema III

Respect

Recognition of moral law

1. Apprehension of higher value of moral maxim (Wille) (cognitive)

Causes

2. Affective moral feeling/Determination of subjective choice (Willkur) (action-
guiding)

|leads to

Contest of strength between affective moral feeling and inclinations

|if outcome of contest is:

Affective moral feeling stronger than inclinations


|leads to


Being motivated to perform moral action














CHAPTER 2
THE INTELLECTUALIST VIEW

2.1 A Preliminary Outline of My Modified Intellectualist View

In a famous footnote at Gr. 401n., in what is perhaps the single most

comprehensive list of the different properties that respect possesses, we find Kant giving

three varying descriptions of respect. Kant first characterizes respect as a "feeling ...

self-produced by means of a rational concept, specifically distinct from all feelings of

the first kind, which can all be reduced to inclination or fear." Secondly, he describes it as

"[t]he immediate determination of the will by the law, and the consciousness thereof."

Thirdly, he states that it is the "representation of a worth that thwarts my self-love."

These characterizations suggest that there are two aspects to respect, one cognitive and

one action-guiding. The first characterization above indicates that respect is a very

special kind of feeling, an action-guiding element which motivates the agent to undertake

moral action; yet, being a feeling which is "self-produced by means of a rational

concept," it cannot be reduced to inclination, fear, or any of the sensuous affections

which we normally take to be feelings. Respect thus has this "feeling" aspect which is

action-guiding, even if it is not clear at this point what the exact nature of this "feeling"

is.

Looking at the second and third characterizations gives us the other aspect of

respect. These describe respect as a consciousness of being directly moved by the moral

law and an awareness of the value which the moral law possesses, a value which "thwarts

my self-love." These characterizations indicate that respect possesses a cognitive aspect,









which consists in the agent's apprehending and becoming conscious of the commands of

the moral law and the superior value accruing from acting from these commands. This

cognitive aspect we might thus term the "apprehension of the moral law." Thus, the

structure of respect may be outlined as follows:

Schema I
Respect

1. Apprehension of the higher value of the moral law (cognitive aspect)
and
2. "Feeling" of respect (action-guiding aspect)


leads to


Being motivated to perform moral action

2.2 A Preliminary Outline of the Standard Intellectualist Position, As Articulated by
Reath and Allison

Advocates of standard intellectualist readings have similarly noted that respect

possesses both a cognitive and a "feeling" aspect. They differ, however, regarding the

work that these two aspects do in Kant's account of moral motivation. Commenting on

the nature of respect, Reath believes that Kant's second characterization "conveys .. the

primary notion of respect as the proper moral incentive."1 Thus, according to Reath,

when the will becomes conscious of determination by the moral law, it is led to

"recognize the Moral Law as a source of value, or reasons for action, that are

unconditionally valid and overriding relative to other kinds of reasons .. in particular .

. the reasons provided by one's desires,"2 and this conscious apprehension of the moral



1 Andrews Reath, "Kant's Theory of Moral Sensibility," Kant-Studien, 80 (1989), pp. 286-7.
2 Ibid., p. 287.









law's value is, on Reath's account, sufficient to produce moral motivation in the agent.

Thus, according to Reath, what I have identified above as the cognitive apprehension of

the moral law, or the cognitive aspect of respect, functions by itself to influence the agent

to moral action, without need for recourse to any affective element.3 Reath, however, is

also cognizant of the need to explain Kant's other characterization of respect as a "moral

feeling," "self-produced by means of a rational concept." Thus, Reath argues that, in

addition to the "intellectual aspect" of respect, which is captured by Kant's second

characterization (and which is wholly responsible for motivating the will to moral

action), there is also the "affective aspect" of respect, which is the sensuous "feeling or

emotion that is experienced when the Moral Law checks the inclinations and limits their

influence on the will."4 Reath therefore assumes that when Kant refers to the rationally

"self-produced feeling" of respect, he is merely describing the affective, sensuous feeling

of pain that results from the moral law's thwarting of inclinations. Thus, we can see that,

on Reath's reading, there is really no such thing as a non-affective "feeling" that has the

action-guiding property of motivating moral action. This means that, on Reath's reading,

the cognitive apprehension of the moral law somehow both consists in the rational

agent's apprehending the moral law, and also does the work of motivating the agent to act

morally. Reath's reading may thus be represented as follows:






' Broadly agreeing with Reath on the sufficiency of conscious apprehension of the moral law for moral
motivation, Henry Allison puts the point this way: "respect for the law consists simply in the recognition of
its supremely authoritative character, which is to be taken to mean that it provides a reason for action that
outweighs or overrides all other reasons, particularly those stemming from one's desires." For more details,
see Henry Allison, Kant's Theory of Freedom (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990), p. 123.

4 Reath, op. cit., p. 287.











Schema II
Respect

Apprehension of moral law (both cognitive and action-guiding)


leads to


Being motivated to perform moral action
Accompanied by:
Sensuous feeling of pain/"Feeling of respect"

2.3 Inconsistencies Between Reath's Reading and the Texts

Although the references to the feeling of respect in the texts can be construed at

several places in such a way that they support Reath's identification of this feeling with

the pain arising from the thwarting of inclinations, it will be shown, in what follows, that

Reath's understanding of this feeling as a negative feeling ultimately does not fit with the

positive role that Kant assigns to this feeling in moral motivation.

In the footnote at Gr. 40 In, we find Kant apparently going to great pains to stress

that in referring to respect as a "feeling," he is not trying to smuggle an "obscure"

affective component into his moral psychology:

There might be brought against me here an objection that I take refuge behind
the word "respect" in an obscure feeling, instead of giving a clear answer to the
question by means of a concept of reason. But even though respect is a feeling, it is
not one received through any outside influence but is, rather, one that is self-
produced by means of a rational concept; hence it is specifically distinct from
feelings of the first kind, which can all be reduced to inclination or fear. (Gr. 401n)

Whatever this feeling of respect is, it is one that is "self-produced by means of a

rational concept" and that, unlike other feelings, cannot "be reduced to inclination or

fear." In order for Reath to be able to hold that this feeling of respect is the pain that

results from the thwarting of inclination, then, he has to be able to explain how such pain









is something that can be "self-produced by a rational concept" and that cannot "be

reduced to inclination or fear."

In a certain sense, it is possible to construe the pain resulting from the thwarting of

inclination as being a feeling "self-produced" by a rational concept, if we understand

"self-produced" to mean something like "the direct product of." The pain resulting from

the thwarting of inclination is indeed directly produced by an agent's awareness of his

will's being subject to the rational moral law, and can thus, in this sense, be considered to

be "self-produced" by the latter. It also seems possible to understand this pain as being

irreducible to inclination or fear, if one understands it to be a sensation that arises when

the imperfectly rational will's inclinations experience the constraint of being subjected to

or modified by the commands of the moral law. This is a sensation or feeling that seems

properly distinguished from both sensations of inclination and fear.

In addition, Reath could also try to distinguish this pain from other inclinations by

appealing to the fact that Kant, at one point in the third chapter of the Critique of

Practical Reason, specifically refers to the feeling of respect as one that can be known a

priori, unlike all other feelings. Kant states that the moral law,

as striking down, i.e., humiliating, self-conceit... is an object of the greatest respect
and thus the ground of a positive feeling which is not of empirical origin. This
feeling, then, is one which can be known a priori. Respect for the moral law,
therefore, is a feeling produced by an intellectual cause, and this feeling is the only
one which we can know completely a priori and the necessity of which we can
discern. (KPV 73)

Drawing on this passage, Reath could claim that the pain resulting from the thwarting of

inclinations is one that is "produced by an intellectual cause [the moral law]" and is "not

of empirical origin"; being thus the only feeling "which can be known a priori," it must

be different from all other sensations or feelings, in large part because of the uniqueness









of its origin in recognition of the moral law. That the imperfectly rational will should

experience a feeling of constraint upon this recognition can also be understood to be a

necessary occurrence which can be known a priori, insofar as such a sensation invariably

accompanies the moral law's governing of the imperfectly rational human will.

It is admittedly possible to interpret Kant's various descriptions of the "feeling" of

respect so that they fit with Reath's identification of this "feeling" with the sensation of

pain experienced by the will in being governed by the moral law. Nevertheless, the basis

for identifying this feeling "which is not of empirical origin" and which is "known a

priori" with the pain arising from the thwarting of inclination is ultimately suspect. Kant

describes this feeling as "a positive feeling," the representation of a moral law which

influences the agent towards carrying out moral action; the pain arising from the

thwarting of inclination, however, can scarcely be considered a positive feeling. This

point is a problem for Reath's view of the nature of respect. The feeling of respect cannot

be the negative pain that arises from the moral law's thwarting of inclinations but must be

a positive feeling capable of influencing the agent towards moral action. We are thus left

with the somewhat mysterious notion of the "feeling" of respect an action-guiding

element of respect as recognition of the moral law that is not a feeling in the ordinary,

affective sense, which yet possesses the ability to influence the agent to choose a moral

course of action over actions motivated by desires and sensuous feelings. What could

such a "feeling" possibly be?

2.4 How Respect for the Moral Law Wins Over Opposing Inclinations, Bringing
About Moral Action

Before trying to discern the exact nature of the "feeling" aspect of respect, it will be

useful first to clarify how respect "wins out" over opposing inclinations, or, in Kant's









own words, reject "all rival claims of self-love" (KPV 76). We must consider the effects

on the agent's will of apprehending the moral law and being moved by the "feeling" of

respect. These effects manifest themselves in a kind of decision process, in which the will

chooses between the moral maxim and maxims based on actions from inclination.

2.4.1 The Nature of Inclinations, and How They Influence Choice

In seeking to understand the effects that respect brings about in the will, it is useful

to begin by taking a close look at the different kinds of inclinations that respect has to

come up against and win over. In his paper, "Kant's Theory of Moral Sensibility," Reath

undertakes a careful, systematic analysis of the different kinds of inclinations that besiege

the imperfectly rational will.5 Reath begins by noting that, at KPV 73, Kant lists the

various kinds of empirical motivational tendencies that respect for the law has to triumph

over:

All inclinations taken together... constitute self-regard (solipsismus). This consists
either of self-love, which is a predominant benevolence toward oneself (philantia)
or of self-satisfaction (arrogantia). The former is called, more particularly,
selfishness; the latter, self-conceit. Pure practical reason merely checks
selfishness... But it strikes down self-conceit (KpV 73).

Thus, for Kant, inclinations can be broadly divided into two subclasses: self-love or

selfishness, on the one hand, and self-conceit, on the other. Kant goes on to describe

selfishness as a "predominant benevolence towards oneself"; as such, it merely needs to

be kept in check by the moral law, for:

... selfishness, natural and active in us even prior to the moral law, is restricted
by the moral law to agreement with the law; when this is done, selfishness is called
rational self-love. (KpV 73)



For more details, see Reath, op. cit., pp. 291-5. The accounts of self-love and self-conceit in this paper
are chiefly informed by Reath's clear, concise account in his paper, although, with his account as the
starting point, I have also, at several places, undertaken some detailed textual exegesis that further
substantiate his account.











A more radical position is taken towards self-conceit, however. Kant states that

while the moral law merely "excludes the influence of self-love from the highest practical

principle," it "strikes down" and "humiliates" self-conceit (KPV 74). Thus, while one

may at times act from self-love, so long as such action is "rational" and "in agreement

with the law," Kant categorically rules out any place for actions from self-conceit in

moral action.

The distinction between self-love and self-conceit may be understood as follows.

Self-love is "a propensity to make oneself, according to subjective determining grounds

of one's choice (Willkiir), into an objective determining ground of the will (Wille) in

general." (KPV 74) It is the interest in one's own welfare, and in the satisfaction of one's

own desires and inclinations. As such, it is a tendency or "propensity" to take one's own

inclinations and desires as providing sufficient reasons both to act and to justify one's

own actions. A person who acts from self-love believes that her desires and inclinations

are sufficient not just to provide her with reasons for action, but also to justify her action

to others; thus, in addition to being the "subjective determining ground" which provides

her with reasons, she also sees her inclinations as constituting an "objective determining

ground" which justifies her actions to others. This interpretation is also corroborated by

Lewis White Beck, who defines "subjective determining ground" as the "conative or

dynamic factor in volition," and "objective determining ground" as the rule or principle

governing action.6 Thus, the individual motivated by self-love not only sees her

inclinations as conative elements which provide her with certain subjective, desire-based


6 Beck, op. cit., p. 216.









grounds for action, she also sees them as constituting objective rules or standards which

can be cited in order to justify such desire-based action to others. Hence, the individual

motivated by self-love takes her own inclinations as sufficient reasons both to act and to

justify her own actions, and also views the inclinations of others as similarly sufficient

reasons for their own actions, so that all individuals would be permitted to pursue their

inclinations, and justify their actions based on them.

Reath points out that self-love does not motivate the agent simply by means of

some affective force acting on her will; rather, because motivation from self-love

involves the agent regarding the inclination as providing a sufficient reason for action,

self-love can only influence choice when the agent attributes a certain value (whatever

value that is required in order for the inclination to qualify as a sufficient reason) to the

inclination. Such attribution of value is clearly a conscious act of volition on the part of

the agent.

How does such attribution of value occur? An inclination first arises in the will as a

sensuous affective force. In response to this force, the agent formulates a maxim that

prescribes a certain course of action aimed towards the satisfaction of the inclination in

question. Such a maxim both describes the action to be taken to satisfy the inclination,

and also furnishes the justifying reason for satisfying the inclination in question. The

agent then considers the maxim, and adopts it and acts on the inclination in question only

if she deems the maxim to possess the value that sufficiently justifies such action to



7 In portraying the individual motivated by self-love as one who views the self-interested motives of others
as similarly sufficient reasons for action, I am not denying the possibilities for conflict between such
individuals. Indeed, such conflict is quite likely, especially in the case of self-interested individuals with
maxims directed towards the same scarce objects of desire. However, I will not go into the details of such
conflict here, as they do not alter our understanding of motivation from self-love.









others. Such a process of formulation and adoption of a maxim Reath terms the principle

of election, and it is in this way that, according to Reath, inclinations influence choice not

merely by virtue of the affective sensuous force which they exert on the will, but,

ultimately, by the justificatory value which the agent supposes them to have.8 Agreeing

with Reath, Allison explains the way inclinations influence the will by putting forward

the Incorporation Thesis, which holds that inclinations influence the will by being

incorporated into maxims, whereby the agent then considers whether or not to adopt the

maxim in question and act on the corresponding inclination.9 Thus, on the intellectualist

view, even Kantian nonmoral motivation is moral in form, in that the agent who adopts

and acts on a maxim based on an inclination does so only if she regards such a maxim as

expressing reasons for action that other agents can accept. In other words, as Reath puts

it, even nonmoral action involves "regarding one's action as good, at some level," and

"we always choose maxims that we suppose could be made universal laws."10

2.4.2 How the Moral Law Checks Inclinations

Against this backdrop of nonmoral motivation, the moral law checks inclinations

by showing the will that maxims founded on inclinations do not have the justificatory

value that the agent supposes them to have, by presenting the will with a higher form of

value. Thus the moral law:


8 For more details, see Reath, op. cit., pp. 295-7.

9 For more details, see Allison, op. cit., p. 126.

10 Here, it is worth noting that although Allison agrees with Reath that the agent, in adopting a certain
maxim, assumes that it is "in some sense rationally justified," he does not think that Kant is committed to
the view that we always choose maxims that we suppose could be made universal laws, even in nonmoral
decision-making. Allison points out, for instance, that the person acting from self-conceit "denies the
legitimacy of the perspective of others," and, in so doing, rejects the assumption that his choice of maxims
must satisfy the criterion of being in some sense universalizeable. Although I do not see this issue as
directly relevant to my project, I am inclined to agree with Allison on this matter. For more details, see
Allison, op. cit., p. 126.









... completely excludes the influence of self-love from the highest principle...
thereforer, the moral law inevitably humbles every man when he compares the
sensuous propensity of his nature with the law. (KPV 74)

When the will apprehends the moral law and compares the higher value of the moral

maxim with the value of maxims founded on inclinations, which are limited by their

"sensuous propensity," the self-interested maxim is shown not to have the value

necessary to justify the self-interested action that the agent initially took it to have; the

maxim founded on self-love is brought into the open, so to speak, and its actual value

exposed. With the self-interested maxim thus devalued, the agent cannot help but

acknowledge the supreme unconditioned value of the moral maxim, and accordingly

adopts it.

Connecting Reath's account of how the moral law checks self-love with my earlier

schematization of his overall picture of Kant's account of moral motivation in schema II,

we find that schema II may be modified in such a way as to provide us with a picture of

how the moral law thwarts inclinations:

Schema IIa
Respect

Apprehension of moral maxim (both cognitive and action-guiding)

|leads to

Value of moral maxim > Value of maxim founded on inclination

|leads to

Moral maxim adopted by will

| leads to

Being motivated to perform moral action
Accompanied by:
Sensuous feeling of pain/"Feeling of respect"









From schema IIa, we can see that, according to Reath, the proximate cause of the

agent's adopting the moral maxim and performing the moral action is her seeing that the

moral maxim possesses a higher value than the one founded on inclination. With regards

to the moral law's checking of self-love, then, the apprehension of the moral law really

amounts to such a representation to the human will of the higher value of the moral

maxim compared to that of the non-moral one. According to Reath, then, the

apprehension of this higher value is sufficient to motivate the will to undertake moral

action. Again, as with schema II, this means that the work that such an apprehension has

to do is twofold: it has to both enable the agent to understand the higher value of the

moral maxim, as well as to motivate the agent to act morally. Here, Reath runs into

problems that were not so apparent in schema II. If the moral maxim motivates by virtue

of its higher value, what exactly does such "higher value" amount to? It certainly cannot

be that the moral maxim motivates because it possesses a higher amount of the same kind

of value; if this were the case, Reath would be forced to conclude that the difference in

the values of the two types of maxims is merely one of degree, and that the agent chooses

the moral maxim because it offers him a higher degree of sensuous satisfaction than the

one founded on inclination. This being so, it would also become clear that Reath is really

subscribing to a disguised affectivist view of Kantian moral motivation; instead of the

sensuous motivation manifesting itself in the sheer affective force that the inclination (or

the moral law) exerts on the will, it presents itself as the sensuous satisfaction promised

by the relative values of the two kinds of maxims.









2.5 Apprehension of value of moral maxim identified as the awareness of absolute
value of rational nature

In order for Reath's account to remain a credible intellectualist account of moral

motivation, then, the difference between the two kinds of values must be explained in

such a way that it is manifest that this difference is a qualitative, not quantitative one. To

understand what kind of value difference Kant has in mind, it is useful to begin by noting

that, for Kant, the limited value of maxims founded on inclinations is closely linked to

the limited values of the objects towards which actions based on such maxims are

directed. Thus,

All the objects of inclination have only a conditioned value; for if there were not
these inclinations and the needs founded on them, then their object would be
without value. But the inclinations themselves, being sources of needs, are so far
from having an absolute value such as to render them desirable for their own sake
that the universal wish of every rational being must be, rather, to be wholly free
from them. Accordingly, the value of any object obtainable by our action is always
conditioned. (Gr. 428)

The objects that we pursue in seeking to satisfy our inclinations have only a limited

value, value that is dependent on the presence of desires and inclinations, which confer

such value on these objects. This value accruing from fulfilling inclinations is therefore

far from absolute.

Is there anything that possesses absolute value? Kant points us to the source of

absolute value when he goes on to state that:

On the other hand, rational beings are called persons inasmuch as their nature
already marks them out as ends in themselves, i.e., as something which is not to be
used merely as means and hence there is imposed thereby a limit on all arbitrary
use of such beings, which are thus objects of respect. Persons are, therefore, not
merely subjective ends, whose existence as an effect of our actions has a value for
us; but such beings are objective ends, i.e., exist as ends-in-themselves. Such an
end is one for which there can be substituted no other end to which such beings
should serve merely as means, for otherwise nothing at all of absolute value would
be found anywhere. (Gr. 428)










Hence, for Kant, rational beings, or persons, are the only things which possess absolute

value. Why do they possess absolute value? The answer, I believe, becomes apparent

when we ponder Kant's declaration that persons "are not merely subjective ends, whose

existence as an effect of our actions has a value for us." Subjective ends, Kant earlier

stated, are "based on impulsions" (Gr. 427), and are "[e]nds that a rational being adopts

arbitrarily as effects of his action (material ends)." (Gr. 427) Subjective ends are thus

ends that the agent pursues in seeking to fulfill his inclinations. It is in this way that they

can be said to be "based on impulsions." Because subjective ends are pursued only with a

view to fulfilling inclinations, and inclinations, as noted above, have only limited value,

such ends only have a relative valuefor us, insofar as their attainment is useful for us in

the fulfillment of our desires.

Persons, on the other hand, are "objective ends," and they "exist as ends-in-

themselves." What does it mean for something to be an "objective end," and to exist as an

end in itself? Kant states above that an objective end is an end in itself: it is something

which is "not to be used merely as means" and which imposes "a limit on all arbitrary

use" of it. A person, as an end-in-itself, is not to be used merely as a means to fulfilling

inclinations. The value of a person goes beyond such use. The person's existence by itself

confers value on her, and this value is absolute, in that this value obtains even if the

person were to be of no use in furthering anybody's inclinations. The possessing of such

absolute value confers a unique status on a rational being, so that such a being cannot be

used to any end to fulfill inclinations. The use of such a being to fulfill inclinations can

only be sanctioned if such use is carried out without infringing on the rights and concerns

that rational nature confers on such a being. Thus the value of persons as ends-in-









themselves is absolute because such value arises independently of any value accruing

from inclinations, and sets limits on the pursuit of inclinations. H.J. Paton brings out this

point by means of an insightful illustration about a familiar group of rational beings:

Every time we post a letter, we use post-office officials as a means, but we do not
use them simply as a means. What we expect of them we believe to be in
accordance with their own will, and indeed to be in accordance with their duty.
Considerations of this kind do not arise in regard to the stamp which we stick on
our letter or the post-box to which we entrust it: they arise only in regard to persons
and not to things.1

From the above, then, it can be seen that, for Kant, the only things that possess

absolute value are persons, who are to be treated as ends-in-themselves by virtue of their

rational nature. Being absolute, such value is independent of and not conditional upon the

existence of inclinations. Given this conception, we can characterize the end-in-itself

thus:

(El) Something possesses absolute value (i.e. is an end-in-itself) if and only if it
possesses value independently of inclinations and it sets limits on the pursuit of
inclinations.

(El) does not yet fully capture what it means for something to be an end-in-itself

possessing absolute value. To describe the end-in-itself as setting limits on the pursuit of

inclinations is to ascribe to it a negative role in influencing action. In addition to this

negative role, Kant holds that the end-in-itself also impacts upon action in a positive way,

by influencing the agent to take action to promote the exercise of rational nature.

This is clear from the third and fourth examples Kant considers after stating the

end-in-itself formulation of the categorical imperative. Kant utilizes the third example to

exhort the reader to cultivate and nurture her talents, declaring that:


11 H.J. Paton, The Categorical Imperative (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1971), p. 165.









... it is not enough that the action does not conflict with humanity in our own person
as an end in itself: it must also harmonize with this end. Now there are in humanity
capacities for greater perfection which belong to the end that nature has in view as
regards humanity in our own person. To neglect these capacities might perhaps be
consistent with the maintenance of humanity as an end in itself, but would not be
consistent with the advancement of this end. (Gr. 430)

Limiting the pursuit of inclinations enables one to avoid conflicting with the interests of

rational nature. Acting out of regard for rational nature, however, does not consist merely

in avoidance, but further requires that one's actions harmonize with rational nature. This

harmonization can be achieved only when, in addition to avoiding conflict with the end-

in-itself, one takes action to actively promote this end. The nurturing and cultivating of

one's talents, by expanding the capacities of rational nature and the range over which it

can be exercised, clearly promotes the end-in-itself, and is thus something that the agent

is obliged to undertake if her actions are to be seen as action from regard for rational

nature as an end-in-itself.

The fourth example also exhorts the agent to promote rational nature, although the

emphasis here is not on self-regarding, but other-regarding, action:

Now humanity might indeed subsist if nobody contributed anything to the
happiness of others, provided he did not intentionally impair their happiness. But
this, after all, would harmonize only negatively and not positively with humanity as
an end in itself, if everyone does not also strive, as much as he can, to further the
ends of others. For the ends of any subject who is an end in himself must as far as
possible be my ends also, if that conception of an end in itself is to have its full
effect in me. (Gr. 430)

In order to act out of regard for rational nature in other persons, it is not enough that we

avoid impairing the exercise of these rational natures; we must also take positive action to

promote these natures by helping to further their ends whenever possible.

Hence, both in actions concerning ourselves and in our interactions with others,

acting from regard for rational nature as an end-in-itself involves, in addition to avoiding









conflict with the interests of rational nature, taking positive action to promote the exercise

of rational nature. In light of this, (El) may be refined as follows:

(E2) Something possesses absolute value (i.e. is an end-in-itself) if and only if it
possesses value independently of inclinations, and it sets limits on the pursuit of
inclinations, and it requires that the agent take positive action to promote it, both in
actions concerning herself and in her interactions with other persons.

This formulation makes it clear that rational nature as an end-in-itself imposes

normative requirements on the agent by setting limits on inclination and requiring the

agent to take positive action to promote rational nature. It remains to be seen, however,

whether and how the agent can be motivated to act to fulfill these normative

requirements. What is capable of motivating the agent to set limits on the pursuit of

inclinations, and to act to promote rational nature as an end-in-itself? Insofar as such

action is constitutive of moral action, it is safe to say that it is respect that motivates such

action. The task facing us, then, is to spell out just what such motivation by respect

amounts to. If Reath's account is credible, it must follow that such motivation derives

from apprehending the absolute value possessed by the end-in-itself, since, on the

account above, this is ultimately what the "higher value" of the moral maxim amounts to.

Does such motivation really arise from apprehending the absolute value possessed by the

end-in-itself? Or does it arise from something else? We might obtain some insight into

this issue from considering the following passage at Gr. 400:

... Duty is the necessity of an action done out of respect for the law. I can indeed
have an inclination for an object as the effect of my proposed action; but I can
never have respect for such an object, just because it is merely an effect and is not
an activity of the will.

Here, Kant draws a clear contrast between what is involved in moral action based on

respect for the moral law, and nonmoral action based on the pursuit of inclinations. In

nonmoral action, the agent seeks to bring about a desired state of affairs (what Kant refers









to as the "effect") in order to fulfill an inclination. This is so because to have an

inclination is, in an important sense, to have an inclination for a certain state of affairs to

obtain; specifically, the state of affairs in which the inclination is fulfilled. It is in this

sense that Kant observes that one can have an inclination for the effect of a nonmoral

action. The motivational picture is quite different in the realm of moral action. Whatever

motivates one to undertake moral action, it clearly cannot be the effect of the action. This

Kant states unequivocally at the beginning of the Gr.:

A good will is good not because of what it effects or accomplishes, nor because of
its fitness to attain some proposed end... it is good in itself. Even if, by some
especially unfortunate fate or by the niggardly provision of step-motherly nature,
this will should be wholly lacking in the power to accomplish its purpose; if with
the greatest effort it should yet achieve nothing, and only the good will should
remain... yet would it, like a jewel, still shine by its own light as something which
has its full value in itself. (Gr. 394)

If respect, or the motivation to moral action, does not arise from considering the effect of

the moral action, from what could it arise? Looking back at the passage at Gr. 400, we are

told that we can only have respect for the "activity of a will." Given that moral action is

action undertaken from a good will, it follows that Kant means by such activity the

activity of a good will. How does contemplating the activity of a good will cause one to

be motivated to undertake moral action? Or, to put the question in terms of (E2), how

does contemplating the activity of a good will motivate one to act to set limits on one's

inclinations, and take action to promote rational nature as an end-in-itself?

We begin to see the answer when we consider Kant's famous declaration at the

beginning of the Gr. that the only thing that can possess absolute, unconditioned value is

a good will. It is surely no accident that both rational nature as an end-in-itself and a good

will are characterized as possessing absolute value. Indeed, rational beings are to be

regarded as ends-in-themselves because this good will, which Kant declares to be of









unconditioned value, is present in every rational being, even if it is often overridden by

the desires and inclinations to which imperfectly rational beings invariably are subject.

Thus rational beings, being the "vessels" of good will, so to speak, also come to possess

the absolute value that is found in the good will, and their role as the bearers of absolute

value confer upon them a unique status, so that they cannot simply be used as means like

other beings.

In light of this close relation between the good will and rational nature as an end-

in-itself, then, (E2) can be further articulated as follows:

(E3) Something possesses absolute value (i.e. is an end-in-itself) if and only if a
good will is present in it which causes it to possess value independently of
inclinations, and it sets limits on the pursuit of inclinations, and it requires that the
agent take positive action to promote it, both in actions concerning herself and in
her interactions with other persons.

To contemplate the activity of a good will, then, is to become directly aware of what it is

that causes rational nature to possess absolute value. It is to become directly aware of

what it is that makes us ends-in-ourselves, setting us apart from other, non-rational

beings, beings which, lacking our unique status, can be used to any end in the service of

inclinations. In contemplating the activity of a good will, then, we become directly aware

of something that is central to our identity as rational beings, or persons. Such awareness

of the absolute value of rational nature also brings with it an awareness of the moral

duties to be carried out in preserving and promoting this thing of absolute value. These

duties need have no recourse to external, affective feelings in order to have normative

force with respect to the agent. Rather, the agent, in becoming aware of the absolute

value of rational nature, cannot help but also be gripped by the necessity of carrying out

these duties in order that this thing of absolute value may continue to exist and flourish.

Because this thing of absolute value is not something external to herself, but is, rather,









something which is central to her very identity, the agent can only ignore these duties on

pain of estranging herself from a vital aspect of her very conception of herself as a

person.

2.6 Awareness of Rational Nature as Giving Rise to a Rational, Action-guiding
Compulsion or "Feeling" of Respect, Which Motivates Moral Action

The awareness of the absolute value of rational nature, then, gives rise to an

overriding compulsion on the part of the agent to act to carry out the duties necessary to

preserve and promote rational nature. This compulsion, in its immediacy, exerts a

compelling effect on the agent's psyche, one that is somewhat akin to the force of an

affective feeling; yet, being something which arises directly from the agent's

consciousness of a central aspect of her very identity as a person, this overriding

compulsion is distinct in its nature from any affective feelings arising from consideration

of the desired effects of nonmoral actions. Because awareness of the absolute value of

rational nature is also awareness of the necessity to carry out the dictates of moral law in

order to preserve and promote this absolute value, respect is also described, in the famous

footnote at Gr. 401n, as "immediate determination of the will by the law and

consciousness of this determination."

It is with this in mind that Kant also goes to great pains to stress, in the same

footnote, that his positing of the notion of respect is not to be seen as an attempt "to take

refuge in an obscure feeling instead of giving a clearly articulated answer to the question

by means of a concept of reason." In an attenuated sense, respect can be termed a

"feeling," insofar as this refers broadly to anything that has an action-guiding effect on

the agent. This "feeling" of respect, however, is not the affective, sensuous influence that









the word commonly refers to. It is not something arising from consideration of a desired

effect external to ourselves, as Kant stresses later at Gr. 401n:

... even though respect is a feeling, it is not one received through any outside
influence but is, rather, one that is self-produced by means of a rational concept;
hence it is specifically distinct from all feelings of the first kind...

Indeed, respect is a unique "feeling" produced when one becomes aware of something

central to one's identity as a person, i.e. the absolute value of rational nature. It is in this

sense that respect can truly be said to be something "self-produced by means of a rational

concept," for it arises from a concept that is vital to one's conception of one's rational

self.

That respect is a "feeling" only in this attenuated sense is also attested to in a less

well-known passage from the KPV:

This feeling [of respect], under the name of moral feeling, is therefore produced
solely by reason. It does not serve in estimating actions or as a basis of the
objective moral law itself but only as a drive to make this law itself its maxim. By
what name better than moral feeling could we call this singular feeling, which
cannot be compared with any pathological feeling? (KPV 76)

Respect, as a "feeling" produced solely by our conception of ourselves as rational beings,

is singular in nature, in that it is an entirely different kind of action-guiding component

from "pathological" feelings, which are affective feelings pertaining to emotions and

passions associated with desires.

That respect arises from contemplating the exercise of a good will by a rational

being, and the absolute value associated therewith, is confirmed by Kant slightly later in

the KPV, when he observes that:

Respect always applies to persons only, never to things... to a humble plain man, in
whom I perceive righteousness in a higher degree than I am conscious of in myself,
my mind bows whether I choose to or not, however high I carry my head that he
may not forget my superior position... In men all good is defective, but the law
made visible in an example always humbles my pride, since the man whom I see









before me provides me with a standard by clearly appearing to me in a more
favourable light in spite of his imperfections... Respect is a tribute we cannot
refuse to pay merit whether we will or not; we can indeed outwardly withhold it,
but we cannot help feeling it inwardly. (KPV 76-7)

In observing the activity of a good will manifested in the actions of a rational being

(albeit an imperfectly rational one), we are inevitably compelled by the "feeling" of

respect to acknowledge the absolute value of such an instance of "the [moral] law made

visible in an example," even if our desire for worldly position causes us to withhold any

outward display of such acknowledgement. At the same time, this awareness of the

absolute value of such activity also engenders in us a compelling drive to "make this

[moral] law itself its [our action's] maxim," for this awareness of absolute value is so

central to our conception of ourselves as persons that, whether it results in our actually

taking moral action or not, we nevertheless "cannot help feeling it inwardly."

Hence, given the above analysis of how the "feeling" of respect arises from the

awareness of the absolute value of rational nature, we may characterize such awareness

as follows:

(Al) Something constitutes awareness of the absolute value of rational nature

if and only if

such awareness arises from contemplating the activity of a good will, and gives rise
to a rational compulsion or "feeling" in the agent to set limits on the pursuit of
inclinations, and to undertake positive action to preserve and promote rational
nature, both in actions concerning herself and in her interactions with other
persons.

What does this analysis of the awareness of the absolute value of rational nature,

and the rational "feeling" arising from it, entail for Reath's account? In an important

sense, I am in fundamental agreement with Reath: like Reath, I hold that, for Kant,

motivation to moral action only comes about because of the agent's apprehension of a









certain higher value, which I have identified as the awareness of the absolute value of

rational nature. I differ with Reath, however, over what follows such apprehension or

awareness. Unlike Reath, who relegates what Kant refers to as the "feeling" of respect to

the merely negative status of a by-product (pain) resulting from the moral law's thwarting

of inclinations, I argue that such a "feeling" is actually a rational, action-guiding

compulsion arising from awareness of rational nature, a compulsion that does positive

work in directly motivating the agent to undertake moral action to preserve and promote

rational nature.

Thus, taking into account my fundamental agreement, as well as my differences

with Reath's account, the modified intellectualist position that I had earlier put forward in

schema I may be reformulated as:

Schema la
Respect


1. Awareness of the absolute value of rational nature (cognitive)
and
2. Rational compulsion or "feeling" of respect (action-guiding)

|leads to


Being motivated to perform moral action to preserve and promote rational nature
2.7 Interim Summary

Schema la, which represents the modified intellectualist reading that I am putting

forward, is essentially similar in structure to schema I, set forth at the beginning of this

thesis. The central point of schema I, that respect consists of a cognitive component (the

apprehension of the higher value of the moral law) and an action-guiding component (the









"feeling" of respect), remains unchanged. Schema la refines schema I by incorporating

the results of the intervening examination of Reath's view of Kantian moral motivation.

Firstly, in schema la, I have represented my point of agreement with Reath's account:

I concur with Reath that apprehending the moral law ultimately amounts to apprehension

of a certain higher value, and this apprehension of value, I argue, is ultimately to be

identified as the awareness of the absolute value of rational nature as an end-in-itself

However, I also argue that such awareness of value alone does not move the agent to

moral action. This awareness necessarily gives rise to a non-affective compulsion (which

Kant refers to as the "feeling" of respect), and it is this compulsion that fulfills the action-

guiding function of motivating the agent to undertake moral action. Hence, I disagree

with Reath's claim that apprehension of value is itself sufficient to motivate moral action,

and argue that the "feeling" of respect, which Reath has relegated to being merely a

negative by-product of moral motivation, should be seen as something that does positive

work in motivating moral action.

Apart from providing an account of Kantian moral motivation that fits better with the

textual evidence, as I have shown above, what are the other advantages of my modified

intellectualist reading? In many places in his writings, Kant emphasizes that moral action

is not motivated by heteronomous forces, and he expressly rules out any appeal to

sensuous, affective forces in explaining moral motivation. Such an aim can, of course, be

achieved by Reath's intellectualist reading of Kantian moral motivation. Indeed, any

intellectualist approach to explaining Kantian moral motivation is fundamentally an

attempt to adhere faithfully to this overarching principle of Kantian morality, a principle

that is indisputably a distinguishing feature of Kant's ethical system. In order for an









intellectualist reading to be truly convincing, however, it needs, in place of a sensuous

affective component, a non-affective component that is at least equally capable of

accounting for the action-guidingness of respect. While Reath's account is internally

consistent, it is nevertheless somewhat mysterious how mere apprehension of the value of

the moral maxim can motivate moral action. Insofar as this mystery surrounding the

supposed motivational function of such apprehension takes away from a compelling

account of how Kantian moral motivation occurs, it can only be a shortcoming of Reath's

account, one that a proponent of a sufficiently compelling affectivist view can quite

readily exploit.

My modified intellectualist account does not claim to be able to remove this element

of mystery; indeed, mystery necessarily bedevils any attempt to explain how moral

motivation can occur by purely non-affective means. What I seek to do is to show that

this element of mystery, far from being a bane to Kant's moral psychology, actually lies

at the heart of Kant's unique insight into the human condition: that rationality is central to

our conception of ourselves as persons, and that concerns of rationality alone should

therefore be capable of inspiring us to action, whatever the fickle orientation of our

affective feelings. Admittedly, the critic could still press the case, insisting that it

nevertheless remains unfathomable how something as purely cognitive as a rational

conception could move one to action by itself. However, if what I said above follows,

then the critic must realize that the dispute has shifted to a whole new level: she is not

just challenging a particular reading of Kant's moral psychology, but is disagreeing with

Kant over the very issue of what constitutes a person. This is, of course, a most admirable

disagreement to have, but it is not my task to address this issue in this thesis. My task is









simply to show how, in light of Kant's fundamental conviction regarding the centrality of

rationality to personhood, his ethical system more specifically, his moral psychology -

can be seen as a compelling elaboration of this conviction.

2.8 The Possibility of Being Motivated by Awareness of Rational Nature

Does the awareness of the absolute value of rational nature, together with the

rational compulsion which it generates, really make for a compelling account of Kantian

moral motivation? Kant, after all, is famous for insisting that ought implies can; in order

to be truly credible, then, the modified intellectualist account, in addition to being

consistent with the textual evidence, must also be able to show that it is possible for the

rational agent to be motivated by awareness of rational nature and the rational

compulsion it generates.

The possibility of such motivation can be shown if we direct our attention to the

first of the four examples that Kant considers after putting forth the end-in-itself

formulation of the Categorical Imperative. Here, Kant considers the case of a man who,

"reduced to despair by a series of misfortunes feels sick of life" (Gr. 421-2). This man

has no desire to go on living, for the continuance of his life "threatens more evil than it

promises satisfaction," and, being in the depths of despair, all his affective feelings are

also oriented negatively against the continuance of life, so that there are no affective

feelings present within him that can motivate him to preserve his life. The man

contemplates killing himself in order to escape pain and suffering. However, he asks

himself "whether his action can be consistent with the idea of humanity as an end in

itself' (Gr. 429). In response, Kant points out that

Man, however, is not a thing and hence is not something to be used merely as a
means; he must in all his actions always be regarded as an end in himself.









Therefore I cannot dispose of man in my person by mutilating, damaging, or killing
him. (Gr. 429)

Thus, when the man in such an unfortunate circumstance considers the moral

acceptability of his desire to end his life, he becomes aware that the status of a person as

an end-in-itself proscribes the killing of oneself as a means to ending personal suffering.

This is so because in so doing, rational nature is being used merely as a means, as

exploiting rational nature in this way to avoid suffering destroys the very possibility of

the exercise of rational nature. The awareness of the absolute value of rational nature thus

rules against acting to satisfy the desire to end suffering, an action which can only result

in relative value. Can the agent be motivated to obey this ruling? Given that all the

affective feelings of the agent in this case incline towards taking his own life, the

motivation for preserving his life must be rational in nature, and must arise directly from

the awareness of rational nature, since the only inclinations present in the agent are for

the termination of his life and cannot possibly give rise to any life-preserving motivation.

That which motivates the agent to undertake the moral action of preserving rational

nature must therefore be a rational compulsion arising from awareness of rational nature.

I hope to have shown that appreciation of the roles played by the awareness of the

absolute value of rational nature, and by the rational compulsion generated therefrom,

makes for a compelling account of how the notion of respect is central to Kant's account

of moral motivation. By showing how Kant could have held that acting from moral

considerations is possible in a case in which no extraneous nonmoral interests could have

motivated the relevant moral action, my account provides a picture of Kantian moral

motivation that not only stays true to the rational, non-heteronomous nature of the

Kantian framework, but also makes clear how every step of the motivational process









reflects through and through Kant's conviction that rational considerations are capable of

motivating moral action by themselves, even in the face of adverse affections and

opposing desires.

2.9 Alleged Moral Weakness of Will as Lapse of Rationality

Thus far, I have concerned myself with the question of how, on the Kantian
framework, one can be motivated to undertake moral action. What happens when
one fails to be so motivated? Is such failure symptomatic of weakness of will, or
the intentional performance of an action by an agent who at the same time believes
that a better option is available?

The agent, in becoming aware of the absolute value of rational nature, and of its

superiority over the relative value possessed by nonmoral inclinations, is immediately

motivated by the rational compulsion or "feeling" of respect to undertake moral action.

So overriding is the effect of this awareness on the agent that it is sufficient by itself to

triumph over even the greatest threat to rational nature, i.e. the inclination to take one's

own life (and terminate rational nature in oneself) in order to put an end to personal

suffering. Awareness of the absolute value of rational nature is thus a strong internalist

conception; the rational agent who is genuinely aware of this absolute value cannot fail to

experience the rational compulsion or "feeling" of respect, and to be motivated to

undertake moral action accordingly, insofar as she is rational.12 The converse of this is

that the agent who fails to be motivated to undertake moral action is not genuinely aware

of the absolute value of rational nature. How could this come about? As stated above,

awareness of such absolute value, and the rational "feeling" arising therefrom, motivate

12 In spelling out the internalism inherent in awareness of the absolute value of rational nature in this way, I
am drawing from Christine Korsgaard's internalism requirement, which holds that practicalcl reason
claims, if they are really to present us with reasons for action, must be capable of motivating rational
persons." For more details, see Christine Korsgaard, "Skepticism about practical reason," in 0C .. -ai the
Kingdom of Ends, ed. Christine Korsgaard (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), p. 317.









agents to action insofar as they are rational. This implies that in moral transgressions,

there is an important sense in which the agent is not rational, at least when the

transgression occurs. There is more than one way in which such a lapse in rationality can

occur. Extreme stress, trauma, or depression can skew our perceptions of things, so that

our ability to make rational judgements is considerably undermined. The person who,

after considering the moral acceptability of suicide, goes ahead and takes his own life

anyway is someone for whom the depression, stress and emotional trauma brought about

by his troubles is so great that he is no longer able to appreciate the higher value of

rational nature over all inclinations, and sees rational nature as being just one among

many ends to be served. In other cases, the lapse of rationality occurs not because the

agent fails to see the value of rational nature, but because she simply does not recognize

rational nature as such. The dictator who has no compunction about torturing or killing

people in order to satisfy his desire for power, or a desire for sadistic pleasure, is able to

do so because he has ceased to see these people as rational beings like himself, with their

own ends and projects in life, but simply sees them as beings who exist primarily in order

that he may fulfill his desires. Indeed, it is precisely such a lapse of rationality that

prompts us to condemn such practices as "inhumane," insofar as rationality is central

even to everyday conceptions of what it means to be human. The causes of this failure to

recognize rational nature as such are many and varied, ranging from the effects of

ideology, the influence of early upbringing, as well as certain unusual life-experiences, to

mention a few. However lapses of rationality occur, they all have one common result:

they lead to a distortion of the agent's ability to become genuinely aware of the absolute

value inherent in rational nature.









Hence, on the modified intellectualist account, there is really no such thing as

moral weakness of will, if by this is meant the intentional performance of an action by an

agent who at the same time believes that a better option is available. The agent who fails

to be motivated to act morally fails because she is not genuinely aware of the absolute

value of rational nature. Whether the lapse of rationality underlying such lack of

awareness stems from a failure to see the value of rational nature or from a failure to

recognize rational nature as such, the agent suffering from such a lapse does not believe

that there is a more valuable course of action than the one she is presently committed to;

not possessing the rationality required to be aware of the superior value of the moral

course of action, she wholeheartedly believes her present, nonmoral course of action to

be the best course available.














CHAPTER 3
THE AFFECTIVIST VIEW

3.1 A Preliminary Outline of the Affectivist View

Perhaps the best way to begin to understand the affectivist position is to start by

observing that it shares the same starting point as the standard intellectualist position.

Like Reath, an affectivist like Richard McCarty believes that, for Kant, moral motivation

begins with a cognitive apprehension of the moral law. Like the intellectualist, the

affectivist holds that such apprehension enables the agent to understand the higher value

of the moral maxim over nonmoral ones and the superiority of moral reasons for action

over nonmoral ones. Thus McCarty points out that such cognitive apprehension is

essentially a "comparative judgement" in which agents are led to "have recognized not

only that a course of action open to them is the moral course, but also that the outcome of

their future choice ought to be the moral alternative."1 Such apprehension, however, is

not all there is to the moral act. The agent's understanding that the moral course of action

is the superior one is a cognitive act; such a cognitive act, the affectivist argues, does not

provide the action-guiding force needed to move the agent to undertake moral action.

Rather, such a cognitive apprehension is a preparation for a second step. This second step

involves a "choice between alternative moral and nonmoral courses of action." McCarty

argues that the cognitive apprehension of the moral law, while enabling the agent to

understand the superiority of moral maxims over nonmoral ones, does not suffice to


' Richard McCarty, "Motivation and Moral Choice in Kant's Theory of Rational Agency," Kant-Studien,
85 (1994), p. 23.









influence the agent's choice at the moment when she is to decide between moral and

nonmoral courses of action. In order for moral action to take place, then, another action-

guiding element must be present at the moment of choice, so that, in addition to

understanding the superiority of moral reasons for action, her will is also influenced in

such a way that she chooses the moral course of action over the nonmoral one at that

moment. This action-guiding element McCarty identifies with what Kant refers to as the

moral feeling. Such a feeling, McCarty claims, is an affective force which arises from the

initial cognitive apprehension of the moral law.

Therefore, McCarty argues that Kantian moral motivation consists of a two-part

process: a cognitive apprehension, in which the agent understands the higher value of the

moral maxim, and a moral feeling arising from this apprehension, which provides the will

with an affective, action-guiding force which influences the will to choose the moral

course of action over the nonmoral one at the moment of choice. In putting forth such a

two-part model of Kantian moral motivation, McCarty draws on what is known as the

Wille-Willkuir distinction in Kant. Such a distinction is already in place in KPV, but Kant

gives an official formulation of it only in the later Metaphysics of Morals. According to

Kant, all volition takes place through two functions, will (Wille) and choice (Willkiir).

Kant defines choice as the part of volition "considered ... in relation to action," while he

defines will as "the ground determining choice to action." He also adds that will "has no

determining ground; insofar as it can determine choice, it is instead practical reason

itself." (MS 6:213)2


2 This and all subsequent quotations from Kant's The Metaphysics of Morals (hereafter MS) are from the
translation by Mary Gregor (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996).









Commenting on Kant's distinction, Allison points out that will and choice can be

understood "to characterize respectively the legislative and executive functions of a

unified faculty of volition."3 As Kant states above, Wille is practical reason, the part of

volition that presents objective principles or laws that serve to govern the agent's actions;

it is in this way that will is "the ground determining choice to action." These laws include

both categorical imperatives, or moral principles, and hypothetical imperatives, or

prudential principles. Choice, as the part of volition "considered... in relation to action,"

serves to translate these principles into action. How does Willkur execute the imperatives

presented to it by Wille? We find the answer when, later in MS, Kant declares that:

Laws proceed from the will, maxims from choice. In man the latter is a free choice;
the will, which is directed to nothing beyond the law itself, cannot be called either
free or unfree, since it is not directed to actions but immediately to giving laws for
the maxims of actions (and is, therefore, practical reason itself). Hence the will
directs with absolute necessity, and is itself subject to no necessitation. (MS 6:226)

Laws, being imperatives which are presented by Wille, "proceed" from it. Willkur

responds to these imperatives by formulating maxims, or subjective principles, which put

forward the actions to be taken to fulfill each of these imperatives. Willkur considers the

maxims thus formulated, and decides and chooses which among the different maxims to

adopt and act on. It is in this way that will (Wille) is "the source of the laws that confront

the human Willkur as imperatives."4 Choice (Willkur), then, as the executive function and

the recipient of these laws, "can be said to act... to decide, choose, and even wish under

the governance of Wille."5



3 Ibid., p. 129.

4 Ibid., p. 130.

5 Ibid., p. 130.









McCarty, in putting forth his two-part model of Kantian moral motivation,

identifies Wille, the part of volition that presents objective laws, with the cognitive

apprehension of the higher value of the moral law, insofar as such apprehension only

comes about when all laws (both moral and prudential ones) are presented to the agent,

and the agent is able to compare all laws, and understand the higher value of the moral

law. However, this cognitive apprehension, or the representation of objective principles

by Wille, is not sufficient to bring about moral action. In order for moral action to take

place, something must be present which influences the subjective choice (Willkuir) of the

agent during the moment of choice, so that the moral maxim is adopted over the maxims

representing opposing inclinations. Given the Wille- Willkuir distinction, then, the

question to ask with regards to Kantian moral motivation would be: in moral action, what

is it that causes Willkiir to decide and choose in favor of adopting the moral maxim over

the nonmoral one?

It is with such a question in mind that McCarty argues that, in addition to the

cognitive aspect of respect, the apprehension of the moral law, another component is

needed in Kant's account of respect to explain how Kantian respect is capable of

prevailing over opposing inclinations at the moment of choice. Such a component,

McCarty argues, is the affective aspect of respect, or the moral feeling. This moral

feeling is an affective, conative component which arises from the agent's initial cognitive

apprehension of the moral law, and which provides Willk/ir (choice) with the action-

guiding force necessary to overcome the forces of opposing inclinations and bring about

moral action. On the affectivist reading, then, a contest of inclinational strength occurs

between the moral feeling and opposing inclinations at the moment of moral choice, and









moral action results only if the inclinational strength of the affective moral feeling

overcomes that of the opposing inclinations. How can moral feeling possess sufficient

strength to overcome the opposing forces of inclination? McCarty brings our attention to

the following passage from the MS:

Obligation with regard to moral feeling can be only to cultivate it and to strengthen
it through wonder at its inscrutable source. (MS 6: 399)

Why should Kant deem the cultivation and strengthening of this moral feeling to be so

important as to constitute an "obligation"? McCarty points out that, since the occurrence

or non-occurrence of moral action is ultimately decided by whether the moral feeling is

stronger than non-moral inclinations at the moment of choice, the agent is obliged to do

everything to ensure that, at that moment, the moral feeling will win out over inclinations

in strength. This being so, it then follows that the cultivation and strengthening of this

feeling constitutes a duty; the agent, through a continuous process of moral education,

seeks to prepare for this moment, so that the moral feeling will possess sufficient strength

to overcome inclinations.

In light of the above, then, the affectivist position, as put forward by McCarty, can

be represented as follows in schema III below:

Schema III
Respect


1. Apprehension of higher value of moral maxim (Wille) (cognitive)

Causes


2. Affective moral feeling/Determination of subjective choice (Willk/ir) (action-
guiding)

|leads to











Contest of strength between affective moral feeling and inclinations


|if outcome of contest is:


Affective moral feeling stronger than inclinations



|leads to



Being motivated to perform moral action

3.2 Textual Support for the Affectivist Reading

It would seem, at first glance, that the affectivist would have a hard time finding

textual evidence to support her model of Kantian moral motivation. After all, Kant is

well-known for opposing the view that one's feelings have anything to do with the moral

worth of actions, and rejecting any attempts to reduce reasons for moral actions to non-

moral considerations such as desire for one's own happiness or the satisfaction of certain

inclinations that may accrue from undertaking the moral action. He holds that rational

moral reasons alone are sufficient to motivate moral action, independently of any

sensuous inclinations or desires. Thus, an affectivist model of Kantian moral motivation,

by holding that moral motivation involves an affective feeling (even if it is a moral

feeling produced by the apprehension of the moral law), immediately becomes suspect.

Indeed, there are places in the texts where Kant seems to be categorically rejecting

any place for feelings of any sort in moral motivation. For instance, in a passage from

KPV, Kant declares that:









What is essential in the moral worth of actions is that the moral law should directly
determine the will. If the determination of the will occurs in accordance with the
moral law but only by means of a feeling of any kind whatsoever, which must be
presupposed in order that the law may become a determining ground of the will,
and if the action occurs not for the sake of the law, it has legality but not morality.
(KPV 71)

On a first reading, this passage seems unequivocally to endorse a purely rationalistic,

anti-affectivist picture of Kantian moral motivation, for it insists that the rational

commands of the moral law are in themselves sufficient to motivate moral action, and

that actions motivated by affective feelings are at best in conformity with the moral law

(thus possessing "legality"), but have no moral worth.

Although the above passage rules out feelings which must be presupposed in order

for the law to determine the will feelings which precede the will's apprehension of the

moral law, and which must necessarily be present in order that the moral law may

motivate the agent it doesn't have to imply that all feelings must be ruled out in moral

motivation. Lewis White Beck astutely points out that the word "presupposed" is meant

to guard against moral sense theories, which hold that moral action is motivated by

certain non-moral feelings (the desire for happiness, etc.) which precede, and are

necessary conditions for, moral motivation. Not all feelings, however, need be so

presupposed. Beck goes on to note that, besides guarding against the moral-sense

theorists, the word "presupposed" in this passage also leaves open the possibility that

determination by the moral law may be followed by a subsequent feeling, one which

directly results from the agent's apprehension of the moral law. 6 That the apprehension

of the moral law may be followed by a subsequent feeling seems to be corroborated by

the following passage from MS, which states that:


6 Beck, op. cit., pp. 222-3.









Every determination of choice [Bestimmung der Willkur] proceeds from the
representation of a possible action to the deed through the feeling of pleasure or
displeasure, taking an interest in the action or its effect. The state of feeling [der
atheti'/i.he Zustand] here [...] is either sensibly dependent [pathologisch] or moral.
The former is that feeling which precedes the representation of the moral law; the
latter, that which can only follow upon it (MS 6: 399).

Here, Kant is describing every determination of choice, both moral and nonmoral. Both

kinds of determination involve feeling; nonmoral determination involves pathological

feelings, whereas moral determination involves moral feelings. Moral feelings are to be

distinguished from non-moral ones, in that the former can only result from apprehension

of the moral law, while the latter precedes such apprehension.

Indeed, as far back as the early Lectures on Ethics, Kant pointedly emphasized the

need for a moral feeling motivating moral action, in addition to the initial moral

judgement:

Moral feeling is the capacity to be affected by a moral judgement. My
understanding may judge that an action is morally good, but it need not follow that
I shall do that action which I judge morally good: from understanding to
performance is still a far cry. If this judgment were to move me to do the deed, it
would be moral feeling; but it is quite incomprehensible that the mind should have
a motive force to judge. The understanding, obviously, can judge, but to give to this
judgment of the understanding a compelling force, to make it an incentive that can
move the will to perform the action-this is the philosopher's stone!7

The above passage, coming from an early work, may be discounted as unrepresentative
of Kant's mature moral theory. However, in the much later Religion i/ i/hin the Limits of
Reason Alone, we find Kant apparently making a similar affirmation of the motivational
role of moral feeling when he declares that:
This capacity for simple respect for the moral law within us would thus be moral
feeling, which in and through itself does not constitute an end of the natural
predisposition except so far as it is the motivating force of the will [Triebfeder der
Willkur] (R 23).8



Immanuel Kant, Lectures on Ethics, trans. L. Infield (New York, 1963), pp. 44-5.

8 This and all subsequent quotations from Kant's Religion Within the Limits ofReason Alone (hereafter R)
are from the translation by T.M. Greene and H.H. Hudson (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1960). All









The word "Willkir" in this passage, which Greene and Hudson have chosen to render as
"will," is the same word that is translated as "choice" in MS, and "Triebfeder" is the
same word that has been rendered in KPV as the subjective "incentive," rather than as the
objective "motivating force." (as Greene and Hudson have done here) This implies that
when Kant speaks here of the moral feeling motivating the will, he is unmistakably
speaking of the incentive that motivates subjective human choice (Willkir) to moral
action. This reinforces McCarty's view that, in addition to the moral law representing its
objective commands to the will, the subjective component of volition, Willkir, also needs
to be motivated in a certain way, in order for moral action to take place. Thus, the above
passage from R would seem to confirm that the incentive capable of motivating
subjective Willkir is an affective moral feeling.
3.3 Apparent Strengths of the Affectivist Reading

As outlined above, the affectivist holds that the initial, cognitive apprehension of

the moral law generates an affective moral feeling. If the strength of this moral feeling is

greater than that of opposing inclinations at the moment of moral choice, then the

performance of the moral action (instead of the satisfaction of the opposing inclination)

will result. This, of course, does not mean that agents motivated by the moral feeling of

respect always do overcome opposing inclinations. No matter how strong the moral

feeling is in the agent, circumstances can arise in which the strength of opposing

inclinations is greater than that of the moral feeling, and the agent, overwhelmed by these

inclinations, fails to act morally.

Indeed, Kant states that it is precisely the human condition's perpetual

susceptibility to being affected by nonmoral inclination that makes the constraint of duty

a relevant concern for the moral agent; without this susceptibility, we would be capable

of holiness (not merely virtue), and the concept of duty would simply not apply to us. In

R, Kant gives an elaborate account of the inherent moral imperfection of human nature,

explaining that all human agents are susceptible to being affected by nonmoral


citations will follow the pagination in this translation. For instance, "R 23" refers to page 23 of Greene and
Hudson's translation.









inclinations to three different degrees. These are: wickedness, impurity, and frailty. The

wicked are those who, although capable of being moved by moral reasons for action,

always perversely consider nonmoral reasons for action as superior to moral ones.

Although their actions may sometimes accord with duty, they are never done for the sake

of duty. Those who are impure, on the other hand, do assign some weight to moral

reasons in deciding among different courses of action, but do not consider moral reasons

as being in themselves sufficient reasons for action. Thus, the impure never undertake

moral action purely for moral reasons, but always in conjunction with other, nonmoral

reasons (for instance, the satisfaction of certain inclinations that may accrue from

undertaking the moral action). The frail, unlike the wicked and the impure, possess at

least "purity of heart"; the frail agent is convinced that moral reasons provide sufficient

reasons for action in and of themselves. However, despite this intellectual conviction, she

remains susceptible to moral failure through "weakness of the human heart."9 The

imperfectly rational will, to which the commands of the moral law are presented as

imperatives, is characterized by such a condition of frailty; such a will recognizes that the

moral law provides an all-sufficient reason for action, yet, despite this intellectual

conviction, remains prone to moral failure through weakness at the moment of moral

choice. Giving voice to the predicament of the individual in the condition of frailty, Kant

laments that:

I adopt the good (the law) into the maxim of my will (Willkur), but this good,
which objectively, in its ideal conception [. .], is an irresistible incentive, is
subjectively [. .], when the maxim is to be followed, the weaker (in comparison
with inclination) (R 25)


9 For more details, see R 24 5.









The affectivist reading explains this phenomenon as a case of moral weakness of will,

depicting it as a case in which the agent in the condition of frailty, despite having

objectively represented to herself the superior value of the moral maxim in her will

(Wille), thus gaining intellectual conviction in its supremacy, nevertheless fails to muster

the requisite strength of moral feeling to overcome opposing inclinations and move

subjective choice (Willkur) in the direction of moral action. The fact that the affectivist

reading possesses the resources to account for this condition of frailty can be seen as a

strength of the reading, insofar as such an explanation seems to bring about a more

subtle, nuanced picture of Kantian moral motivation.

As stated in the previous chapter, on the modified intellectualist account, there is

really no such thing as moral weakness of will. Considering the various courses of action

open to her, the agent formulates the moral maxim to preserve and promote rational

nature as one among many maxims. Insofar as the agent is rational, she should always be

aware of the absolute value of rational nature, and the rational compulsion to act to

preserve and promote rational nature should, "in its ideal conception," be "an irresistible

incentive" causing her to undertake moral action to preserve and promote rational nature.

However, being frail, the agent is susceptible to lapses of rationality, which cause her, at

the moment of moral choice, to fail to see the higher value of the moral course of action,

so that the moral reason for action appears weaker "in comparison with inclination."

Thus, both the affectivist and modified intellectualist readings possess the resources

to account for the condition of frailty. It remains to be seen how both accounts fare with

regards to other, more fundamental issues, which I shall examine in the next section.









3.4 Difficulties with the Affectivist Reading

3.4.1 Difficulties Associated With Autonomy and Willful Disobedience to the Moral
Law

Though it makes for a compelling account of Kantian moral motivation in certain

respects, the positing of an affective moral feeling also bedevils the affectivist with

considerable difficulties, problems which ultimately prove insuperable, as I will go on to

show.

Perhaps the most immediate difficulty facing the affectivist reading is that there

seems to be at least some tension between attributing the outcome of moral motivation to

deterministicc," "heteronomous" processes characterized by contests of affective forces,

on the one hand, and the familiar Kantian picture of moral motivation as consisting

primarily of the free choice of an autonomous rational agent, on the other. Surely, one

might point out, if moral action is to be the result of a free choice on the part of an

autonomous agent, shouldn't the process leading up to such a choice be completely

independent of degrees of "heteronomous" affective feeling?

Addressing this difficulty, McCarty begins by pointing out that, in cases in which

the agent fails to act morally, moral weakness of will, or deficiency in the strength of

moral feeling, is a factor in the agent's choice only because the agent already recognizes

the obligation imposed by the moral law. If she did not apprehend and understand the

higher value of the moral maxim, no moral feeling would have arisen, and no contest

would have taken place between moral feelings and non-moral inclinations. Recognition

of being under an obligation (and the battle of affective forces that ensues) can only come

about from an autonomous agent exercising free choice. Thus, far from undermining

autonomy, the affectivist reading takes the freedom of the agent to be already well-









established, and employs the Kantian picture of autonomous free choice as the starting-

point of its motivational story.10

Thus far, the affectivist has ably explained how the moral agent exercises free

choice in recognizing the superior value of the moral maxim, yet, depending on the

strength of the resulting affective moral feeling relative to that of opposing inclinations,

may or may not undertake moral action. As mentioned above, this describes the moral

motivational process in the case of agents in the condition of frailty. What about agents in

the other two human conditions mentioned in R, namely, those of wickedness and

impurity? McCarty points out that, in R, Kant states that these three conditions of moral

character are to be understood as freely adopted practical attitudes, attitudes whose

adoption depend on a prior noumenal free choice. As the wicked and the impure do not

recognize the supremacy of moral reasons for action to the same extent as the frail, such

reasons will generate less compelling motivational force for the impure and the wicked.

Thus, for the impure and the wicked, the moral law does not objectively determine the

will (Wille) in the same way in which it does for the frail, and the resulting affective

moral feeling influencing choice (Willkiir) is also correspondingly weaker for such

individuals.

Given McCarty's explanation, however, one may still reasonably ask: How is it

that agents come to adopt the attitudes that they have, becoming wicked or impure rather

than just frail? McCarty, as noted earlier, claims that Kant's position on this question is

that these attitudes resulted from a prior noumenal free choice. If McCarty's claim is to

be believed, then we would simply have to conclude that the adoption of these attitudes is


10 McCarty, op. cit, pp. 27-8.









an "otherwordly" matter that permits of no systematic theoretical explanation, since no

theoretical claims can be made about the nature of noumenal entities. But do we really

have to settle for such an unsatisfyingly mysterious answer to such an important

question? Explaining the difference between a morally good man and an evil one, Kant

states that:

... the distinction between a good man and one who is evil cannot lie in the
difference between the incentives which they adopt into their maxim (not in the
content of the maxim), but rather must depend upon subordination (the form of the
maxim), i.e., which of the two incentives [the moral and the nonmoral] he makes the
condition of the other. Consequently man (even the best) is evil only in that he
reverses the moral order of the incentives when he adopts them into his maxim...
when he becomes aware that they [the moral incentive and the nonmoral] cannot
remain on a par with each other but that one must be subordinated to the other as its
supreme condition, he makes the incentive of self-love and its inclinations the
condition of obedience to the moral law; whereas, on the contrary, the latter, as the
supreme condition of the satisfaction of the former, ought to have been adopted
into the universal maxim of the Willk/ir as the sole incentive (R 31-2).

Thus, for Kant, the basic distinction between a morally good person and an evil one lies

in whether the person recognizes the superior value of the moral incentive, limiting the

satisfaction of nonmoral inclinations in order to fulfill the dictates of the moral law. This

basic distinction can also be applied, with slight modifications, to the three human

conditions. The frail person is one who recognizes the superiority of the moral incentive

and subordinates nonmoral incentives to it accordingly, while the impure and the wicked,

not recognizing this superiority, do not subordinate nonmoral incentives to moral ones;

indeed, the wicked perversely reverse the order of subordination, limiting the fulfillment

of moral incentives in order to fulfill nonmoral inclinations.

It should be abundantly clear from the above that there is nothing "otherwordly'

in Kant's explanation of how agents come to adopt the practical attitudes associated with

frailty, impurity or wickedness. Individuals becomes frail, impure or wicked in direct









accordance with the extent to which they subordinate nonmoral reasons for action to

moral ones. Of course, one may still ask: What causes the agent to decide on one order of

subordination over another, becoming, say, frail, rather than impure or wicked? As noted

above, the affectivist account of Kantian moral motivation has as its starting-point the

agent's apprehension of the higher value of the moral maxim. Because the affectivist

story begins at the point at which the agent recognizes (or, in the case of the wicked and

the impure, fails to recognize) the higher value of the moral maxim, and goes on to posit

an affective feeling (or the lack thereof) arising from such a recognition (or non-

recognition), such a story necessarily lacks the resources to explain what happened before

the apprehension of the moral law; thus, an affectivist like McCarty could do little more

than to attribute the agent's becoming frail, wicked, or impure to a noumenal '"prior" free

choice'. But just because no systematic explanation of how an agent decides on a

particular order of subordination can be found on the affectivist reading does not mean

that no such explanation is possible. Perhaps we could begin by considering what could

lead an agent to, in Kant's terms, "reverse the moral order of the incentives when he

adopts them into his maxims," becoming impure or wicked. What could cause an agent

who is otherwise capable of being motivated by the moral law to willfully regard the

satisfaction of her nonmoral inclinations as being the most valuable course of action to be

taken?

In putting forward my modified intellectualist reading, I have argued, in the

previous chapter, that a lapse in rationality can cause the agent to fail to recognize the

absolute value of rational nature, instead regarding the other person as a mere means to

be exploited in furthering her own selfish inclinations. Insofar as action taken to fulfill









the commands of the moral law is also action taken to preserve and promote rational

nature, my earlier argument can also be applied to explaining how it is that an agent

could decide to subordinate moral considerations to nonmoral ones. The impure or

wicked agent can be understood to be suffering a lapse in rationality which prevents her

from recognizing the absolute value of rational nature, misleading her into regarding

certain nonmoral maxims as possessing greater value than all others, including moral

ones. Because she is thus misled, she accordingly subordinates moral incentives to

nonmoral ones, disobeying the dictates of the moral law in order to satisfy certain

nonmoral inclinations. Misguided by the lapse in rationality, the agent also fails to

apprehend the higher value of the moral law, and the objective determination of Wille by

the moral law simply does not occur.

Hence, the failure of the affectivist reading to provide a systematic account of

how imperfectly rational agents might willfully disobey the dictates of the moral law can

only undermine the overall credibility of such a reading; conversely, the success of my

modified intellectualist reading in addressing this issue can only add to its overall

credibility and compellingness.

3.4.2 More Fundamental Worries

Aside from the above-mentioned difficulties with autonomy and willful

disobedience of the moral law, the affectivist must also confront problems of a more

fundamental nature, problems which cast doubt on the very theoretical underpinnings of

the account. As mentioned earlier, the affectivist account derives its doctrinal basis

chiefly from the Wille- Willkur distinction. As outlined above, Wille, as practical reason,

presents objective principles to Willkur, which then decides and chooses which of the

maxims representing each of these objective principles to adopt and act on. Building on









this distinction, McCarty goes on to argue that while the representation of objective

principles by Wille enables the agent to understand the superiority of moral maxims over

nonmoral ones, subjective Willkur must also be influenced in a certain way in order for

moral action to occur. This subjective influencing of Willkir, McCarty argues, is

accomplished by the affective moral feeling that arises from the objective cognitive

apprehension of the moral maxim's value.

Compelling as McCarty's argument above may seem, it gives us only half of the

motivational picture that arises from the Wille- Willkir distinction. As noted above, the

objective principles that Wille presents to Willkur consist of both moral categorical

imperatives and prudential hypothetical imperatives. According to McCarty, the moral

law, presented to the agent as categorical imperatives, gives rise to an affective force (the

moral feeling) which is sufficient by itself to motivate moral action. If prudential

hypothetical imperatives are also presented to Willkir by Wille, and if at least some of

these hypothetical imperatives are carried out by the agent, it follows that some kind of

affective force must also arise from the agent's apprehension of these hypothetical

imperatives that is strong enough to motivate her to take action in accordance with these

hypothetical imperatives. What could such a force be? Such a question may seem, at first

glance, to be easily answerable, and may even seem trivial. For one, in acting in

accordance with a hypothetical imperative, the agent aims to attain a certain end, and

there are good grounds to believe that the means-end reasoning involved in striving to

attain the particular end exerts a certain motivational force on the agent.11 However, even


" Incidentally, in "Skepticism about Practical Reason," Christine Korsgaard carries out an interesting
discussion about how means-end reasoning can motivate the agent, and how failure to be moved by such
reasoning (which she terms "true irrationality") is symptomatic of a general failure to be moved by
considerations of practical reasoning. For more details, see Korsgaard, op. cit., pp. 311-334.









if there is motivational force arising from such means-end consideration, such force can

arise only after the agent has already decided to adopt the nonmoral maxim and pursue

the particular end associated with it, and thus cannot be the affective force that influences

the agent to carry out the particular prudential imperative in the first place.

One might be tempted to simply identify this affective force with the affective force

that arises from particular inclinations. On such a view, then, the affective forces of

inclination are somehow incorporated into hypothetical imperatives, and when the agent

is presented with a hypothetical imperative, she is also influenced by the affective

inclinational force incorporated therein, and is influenced to act in accordance with the

hypothetical imperative so as to satisfy the inclination in question. This seems an

especially attractive view to hold, not least because it provides a ready parallel with the

case of moral motivation: just as moral motivation is accomplished by an affective moral

feeling, the proponent of such a view argues, so is nonmoral motivation accomplished by

affective forces springing from particular inclinations. Indeed, there are good reasons to

ascribe such a view to McCarty. Explaining the relation between the motivational forces

of inclinations and the maxims formulated by Willkiir, McCarty states that "the

motivational forces of [nonmoral] incentives are incorporated and somehow preserved in

maxims as choice-determinants."12 If McCarty holds that, for Kant, the motivational

forces of inclinations are incorporated in maxims, it seems reasonable to infer that

McCarty also holds that the same motivational forces also are found in the hypothetical

imperatives upon which the maxims are based. Such a view, though seemingly attractive,

ultimately leads to intractable difficulties. A hypothetical imperative, like a categorical


12 McCarty, op. cit., p. 30.









one, issues from Wille. As Kant states in the earlier-quoted passage from MS 6:213, Wille

is practical reason itself, and being "the ground determining choice to action... has no

determining ground." The objective commands issuing from Wille, both categorical and

hypothetical, being commands of practical reason, must be the ultimate sources of all

motivation, and cannot be preceded by any other motivational force. If a hypothetical

imperative is capable of motivating action only because it has incorporated within itself a

prior inclinational force, then the hypothetical imperative is not the ultimate source of

motivation, since it depends on the prior inclinational force for its motivational power.

This goes against Kant's conception of an objective command issuing from Wille. Thus,

if there is an affective force arising from the agent's apprehension of a hypothetical

imperative, it can neither be the motivational force arising from means-end consideration,

nor the affective force arising from inclinations. The burden then falls on the affectivist to

explain how such an affective force can somehow mysteriously arise from the agent's

contemplation of the hypothetical imperative. This difficulty of the affectivist reading in

accounting for the motivating affective force of nonmoral hypothetical imperatives can

only cast grave doubts on the credibility of positing analogous affective forces in moral

motivation. After all, if the role of affective forces in nonmoral motivation cannot be

clearly established, how much faith can one place in such forces in the area of moral

motivation, which Kant famously held to have nothing to do with affective feelings?

Such a problem of explaining the affective force arising from hypothetical

imperatives simply does not arise for my modified intellectualist reading, because on my

reading, no affective forces arise from imperatives, whether hypothetical or categorical.

Like the standard intellectualist position (held by Reath and Allison), I subscribe to the









Incorporation Thesis, which holds that the rational choices of an autonomous agent, both

moral and nonmoral, are decided not by any affective forces, but by Willkir 's

considering and then adopting maxims after comparing the values of the different

maxims formulated in response to the imperatives presented to it by Wille. Hypothetical

imperatives may arise as a result of practical reason's considering various sensuous

inclinations which the will is faced with, but these inclinations play no part in the

decision-making process of the rational agent; if the agent decides to adopt a particular

maxim based on a particular hypothetical imperative, she does so only as a result of

considering and comparing the values of all the maxims formulated, not because that

particular hypothetical imperative gives rise to an affective force that overcomes the

affective forces of all other imperatives.

3.5 Conclusion

I have shown that both the standard intellectualist and affectivist positions with

regards to Kantian moral motivation are lacking in their own ways. The standard

intellectualist position, while staying true to Kant's injunction that moral motivation has

nothing to do with affective feelings, does not offer a convincing account of how the

mere cognitive apprehension of the moral law can do both the work of enabling the agent

to understand the higher value of the moral maxim and motivating the agent to undertake

moral action. The affectivist, on the other hand, provides a compelling account of how

Kantian moral motivation occurs as a result of a motivating affective feeling arising from

the agent's initial cognitive apprehension of the moral law. Such a reading, as we saw

above, can be supported by careful yet creative interpretation of Kant's various remarks

concerning what he terms the "moral feeling of respect" in his various moral works.

Despite its apparent merits, such a reading ultimately falls short, because closer









examination reveals that the affectivist account fails to consistently address various issues

central to both Kant's moral psychology and the basic principles of his motivational

framework.

Given the failings of both readings, the only sensible course left to the thoughtful

student of Kantian ethics is to attempt to chart a middle path between the two, remedying

the inadequacies of the standard intellectualist account while staying clear of the

inconsistencies that arise from subscribing to an affectivist view. This I seek to do by

advancing my modified intellectualist reading, in which I argued that Kantian moral

motivation, while purely rational in nature, consists of two components. The first of

these, the awareness of the absolute value of rational nature, is also found in the standard

intellectualist account as the apprehension of the higher value of the moral maxim. I then

proceeded to argue that this awareness by itself does not accomplish the action-guiding

task of motivating moral action, and went on to show that an additional action-guiding

rational component, the rational compulsion arising from such awareness (which Reath

had relegated to being merely the negative pain arising from the moral law's thwarting of

inclinations), is needed in order to motivate moral action. An analogous action-guiding

component is also posited by the affectivist reading, although, on that reading, the action-

guiding component (the moral feeling) is affective, not rational, in nature. It is in positing

this additional component that is action-guiding, yet rational in nature, that my reading

can be said to be charting a middle path between the affectivist and standard

intellectualist accounts.














APPENDIX
LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS OF KANT'S WORKS USED IN THIS THESIS

KPV Critique of Practical Reason, Kritik der Practischen Vernunft

Gr. Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals, Grundlegung Zur
Metaphysik der Sitten

MS The Metaphysics of Morals, Metaphysik der Sitten

R Religion within the Limits of Reason Alone, Die Religion
innerhalb die Grenzen der blossen Vernunft















LIST OF REFERENCES

Allison, Henry, Kant's Theory of Freedom, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,
1990.

Beck, Lewis White, A Commentary on Kant's Critique of Practical Reason, Chicago:
The University of Chicago Press, 1960.

Kant, Immanuel, Critique of Practical Reason, trans. Lewis White Beck, Upper Saddle
River: Prentice Hall, 1993.

Kant, Immanuel, Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals, trans. James W. Ellington,
Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Co., 1993.

Kant, Immanuel, Lectures on Ethics, trans. L. Infield, New York, 1963

Kant, Immanuel, The Metaphysics of Morals, trans. Mary Gregor, Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 1996.

Kant, Immanuel, Religion Within the Limits of Reason Alone, trans. T.M. Greene and
H.H. Hudson, New York: Harper & Brothers, 1960.

Korsgaard, Christine, "Skepticism about Practical Reason," in Creating the Kingdom of
Ends, ed. Christine Korsgaard, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996, pp.
311-34.

McCarty, Richard, "Motivation and Moral Choice in Kant's Theory of Rational Agency,"
Kant-Studien, 85 (1994): 15-31.

McCarty, Richard, "Kantian Moral Motivation and the Feeling of Respect," Journal of
the History of Philosophy, Jl 93; 31(3): 421-435.

Paton, H.J., The Categorical Imperative, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press,
1971.

Reath, Andrews, "Kant's Theory of Moral Sensibility," Kant-Studien, 80 (1989): 284-
302.















BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH

Ching-E Nobel Ang was born in Singapore on January 24th, 1976. Even in his early

teens, he manifested an unusual inclination towards the philosophical side of things: He

resisted learning algebra, because none of his sixth-grade teachers could give him a

satisfactory explanation of why the use of natural numbers had to be replaced with Xs, Ys

and Zs. After much soul-searching, resisting numerous attempts by his parents to

persuade him to pursue more economically viable courses of study, Ang decided to stay

true to his philosophical leanings, and graduated from the National University of

Singapore (NUS) in May 2001 with a B.A (Honors) in philosophy. After graduating from

NUS, Ang matriculated in the philosophy graduate program at the University of Florida

in August 2001.