Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10077/22325
Title: The Role of Exemplars in Kant’s Moral Philosophy
Authors: Hovda, Jeremy
Keywords: Kantmoral educationimperfect dutiesexemplars
Issue Date: 2018
Publisher: EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste
Source: Jeremy Hovda, "The Role of Exemplars in Kant’s Moral Philosophy", in "Etica & Politica / Ethics & Politics (2018) XX/2", Trieste, EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste, 2018, pp. 31-44
Journal: Etica & Politica / Ethics & Politics 
Abstract: 
On the subject of moral exemplarism, Immanuel Kant is perhaps best known for his warnings
about the futility as well as the potential dangers of trying to base morality on examples or on
the imitation of exemplars. This has led many scholars to conclude that Kant leaves no room
for exemplars in his moral philosophy. However, as the work of Onora O‟Neill and Robert
Louden has shown, Kant‟s position on the subject is in fact more ambiguous than it appears at
first glance. Kant writes both of the need for a kind of archetype [Urbild] that can “make the
law intuitive,” and of a positive role for examples and exemplars in the sharpening of moral
judgment. Yet, O‟Neill and Louden disagree about the exact role and the stage of moral
development where they come into play. O‟Neill claims that examples only play a role at a
stage of moral development prior to the agent‟s assimilation of the moral law, and they never
play a role in moral deliberation per se, while Louden sees a role for examples in moral
deliberation subsequent to the assimilation of the moral law. Neither scholar specifies whether
they play a role with regard to some specific duties or with regard to all duties indiscriminately.
In this paper, I address these disagreements arguing that the key to their resolution and to
gaining a correct understanding of Kant‟s position lies in a closer examination of Kant‟s
taxonomy of duties, especially his distinction between „perfect‟ and „imperfect‟ duties. Such an
examination, leads to the conclusion that is precisely in the fulfillment of imperfect duties,
such as the obligation to perfect our talents and capacities and the obligation to aid the
happiness of others, that Kant sees a necessary role for moral exemplars.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10077/22325
ISSN: 1825-5167
Rights: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 Internazionale
Appears in Collections:Etica & Politica / Ethics & Politics (2018) XX/2

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