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On Kantian Obligatory Ends and Their Maxims of Actions

Melissa Seymour Fahmy


In the Doctrine of Virtue, Kant introduces the concept of an end that is also a duty and explains that these obligatory ends prescribe maxims of actions rather than actions themselves. A common view in the literature is that these maxims of actions are promotional in nature. In this paper, I work from the logic of ends to defend the view that each obligatory end prescribes multiple maxims of actions: the familiar positive, promotional maxim of actions, but also a negative, non-diminishing maxim of actions, epistemic maxims of actions, and dispositional maxims of actions. The account of obligatory ends I present is consistent with what Kant writes in the Doctrine of Virtue, but also develops the concept in ways that Kant did not, at least not explicitly.


obligatory ends, maxims of actions, beneficence, non-maleficence, suberogatory

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