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Kantian Consequentialism$
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David Cummiskey

Print publication date: 1996

Print ISBN-13: 9780195094534

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0195094530.001.0001

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The (Not So) Imperfect Duty of Beneficence

The (Not So) Imperfect Duty of Beneficence

Chapter:
(p.105) 6 The (Not So) Imperfect Duty of Beneficence
Source:
Kantian Consequentialism
Author(s):

David Cummiskey (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/0195094530.003.0006

Kant's own application of the categorical imperative reflects his strong deontological intuitions. Unfortunately, Kant's own interpretation of the limits on the duty of beneficence, and his various distinctions – between perfect and imperfect duties, narrow and wide duties, duties of virtue and duties of justice, maxims of actions and maxims of ends – simply reflect but do not support his intuitions. Contemporary Kantians follow Kant in this regard but replace their own intuitions about what is right with Kant's more extreme and unpalatable views. Yet, they too assume what needs to be shown. This chapter focuses on Thomas Hill, Jr.'s influential account of Kant's account of imperfect duties and supererogation, and argues that Kant's theory supports a robust principle of beneficence but that Kant (or Hill) does not, in fact, provide any deontological constraints on the principle of beneficence.

Keywords:   beneficence, deontological, duty, Thomas Hill, Jr, imperfect duties, justice, maxim, perfect duties, supererogation, virtue

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