Future Paths of Phenomenology

1st OPHEN Summer Meeting

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The contemplative conditions of a moral action

Christina Schües(Lübeck University)

pp. 227-245


In the history of philosophy, praxis or action have, for the most part, been applied within an ethical context. Aristotle differentiates poiësis (constructing, making) from praxis and particularly opposes the latter to theoria. He distinguishes action motivated by appetite, emotion and wish, and actions motivated by rationality (Aristotle, 1111b–1113b). This distinction among motives follows Immanuel Kant in his Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals, since actions can be carried out for all sorts of reasons such as feelings, inclinations or their consequences. The Aristotelian explanation is that the person who acts morally is habituated in accordance with moral rules that she/he has internalized. By contrast, on the Kantian view, a person decides how to act out of duty, and in accordance with the question of "what shall I do?'; yet, this question cannot be answered if one is inclined to act morally in accordance with feelings or interests only. Moral actions should be performed, in Kant's analysis, only according to a generalized and universal moral law, that is, the categorical imperative. Hence, Kant's transcendental method is not interested in how human beings really act, but only in the principal foundations of a moral action.

Publication details

Published in:

Fielding Helen, Hiltmann Gabrielle, Olkowski Dorothea, Reichold Anne (2007) The other: feminist reflections in ethics. Dordrecht, Springer.

Pages: 227-245

DOI: 10.1057/9780230206434_10

Full citation:

Schües Christina (2007) „The contemplative conditions of a moral action“, In: H. Fielding, G. Hiltmann, D. Olkowski & A. Reichold (eds.), The other, Dordrecht, Springer, 227–245.