Maxims and Reasons

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


This chapter sets out to show that the problem of misdirected moral attention does not, perhaps despite appearances, attach to Kant’s moral philosophy at all. It also aims to go some way towards demonstrating that we can say the same thing about the problem of experiential incongruence. I argue for a novel account of what it is to have a maxim of action, or, as I shall put it, of the ‘possession conditions’ of a maxim of action. That account has it that possession of a maxim of action consists in an agent’s being disposed to take the obtaining of a situation of a particular type to be a reason for her to Φ, and her thereby being disposed to Φ in situations of that type. Further, a type of obtaining situation is taken as a reason to Φ on account of the agent’s possession of a particular type of incentive, viewed as a reason that is external to the agent’s maxim (a conative correlate of the maxim, rather than a proper constituent). Therefore, and crucially, the lawlike nature of her maxim is not the good-willed agent’s reason for Φ-ing when she Φs from duty; rather, it is the reason why something else—the existence of a certain sort of obtaining situation, and thus a ‘concrete consideration’—is the reason for her Φ-ing.


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© 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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