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Maxims of Action

  • Peter Herissone-Kelly
Chapter
Part of the Studies in German Idealism book series (SIGI, volume 21)

Abstract

This chapter starts by examining Kant’s definition of a maxim or subjective principle of volition, distinguishing such principles from imperatives, and clarifying the senses in which they are subjective, general, and propositions. Along the way, I offer an introductory explanation of Kant’s claim that an incentive is unable to determine the will, except in so far as it has been incorporated into a maxim. Those tasks completed, I set out to determine, from examples to be found in Kant’s writings on moral philosophy, the logical form of an important class of subjective principles which Kant calls ‘maxims of action’. I identify that form as ‘For any obtaining situation s, if s is an F-type situation, then I will Φ,’ where ‘F’ is a predicate capable of characterising types of situation, and Φ-ing is a type of action. I label my account of the form of a maxim of action ‘M’. I end the chapter by considering examples of maxims of action that Kant gives elsewhere in his writings, concluding that they too exemplify M.

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter Herissone-Kelly
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Humanities and the Social SciencesUniversity of Central LancashirePrestonUK

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