True grit

Source: Austro-Athenian Empire
by Roderick T Long

“On Kant’s view, a moral action is worthy of respect only if it is motivated by a good will — a respect for the moral law for the moral law’s own sake. If it is motivated instead by some sort of inclination or sentiment (such as charitable acts being motivated by feelings of sympathy), the action is no longer worthy of respect, because if one’s actions depend on favourable sentiments — sentiments whose presence or absence is not under the control of the agent’s will –– then that implies that if those favourable sentiments had happened to be absent, the agent would not have performed the action, and so the agent’s having done the right thing is fortuitous and not the expression of a reliable commitment to duty. Hodgson’s narrator is making a similar point here, holding that since his act of courage was largely motivated by a feeling of revulsion at his own cowardice, it is less worthy of respect than it would have been if motivated by ‘a sheer effort of will.'” (02/12/18)

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