Kantian ethics

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-L042-2
Version: v2,  Published online: 2011
Retrieved July 23, 2024, from

4. Back to Kant?

Some of these criticisms are accurately aimed at significant features of various forms of contemporary Kantian writing in ethics; many of them are less apt as criticisms of Kant’s ethics. Several recent writers have suggested that Kant’s ethics is the most convincing form of Kantian ethics, and that its distinctive features are strengths rather than weaknesses. Many of these writers accept much of the critique of deontological ethics, but think that not all the criticisms apply to Kant’s ethics, of which they offer detailed interpretations. Part of their effort has gone into work on Kant’s conceptions of action, reason and freedom, and part into work on his ethics. They have pointed out that Kant’s account of practical reason and of its vindication does not assume either that all reasoning about action is instrumentally rational pursuit of preferred ends, or that ethical vindication is located in hypothetical agreements or contracts reached by reasonable procedures. They have stressed that Kant’s conception of practical reason is based on universalizability rather than impartiality or reciprocity and that he views obligations rather than rights as basic to ethics. They have insisted that impartial respect for persons and a cosmopolitan approach to justice are not morally negligible matters, and have criticized communitarians, virtue ethicists and some feminist thinkers for not taking justice seriously. They have also pointed out that Kant offers accounts of the virtues, of the role of happiness in the good life, and of judgment, and argued that his position is not damagingly individualistic and that he acknowledges the importance of institutions and of social and personal relationships in human life (see Hill 1992; Korsgaard 1996; Herman1993; O’Neill1989).

Citing this article:
O'Neill, Onora and Jens Timmermann. Back to Kant?. Kantian ethics, 2011, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-L042-2. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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