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Kant's Doctrine of Virtue

Mark Timmons

Publication Date - 14 May 2021

ISBN: 9780190939236

328 pages
5 1/2 x 8 1/4 inches


Immanuel Kant's final publication in ethics was The Doctrine of Virtue, Part II of the 1797 The Metaphysics of Morals. This text presents Kant's normative ethical theory. This guide is meant to be read alongside Kant's text, combining accessible explanations and novel interpretations of this difficult text. It is the first book in English devoted to The Doctrine of Virtue, one of Kant's most significant works.

Timmons divides the guide into five parts. Part I reviews Kant's life, the history and significance of The Doctrine of Virtue, and situates Kant's ethics within his general metaphysical and epistemological views. Part II is devoted to the General Introduction to The Metaphysics of Morals, which is essential for understanding Kant's ethics. Part III and Part IV turn to The Doctrine of Virtue itself, exploring Kant's defense of a system of duties and corresponding virtues. Part V examines Kant's conception of moral education, the practice of virtue, and the conclusion to the book where Kant explains why the discipline of ethics does not include religion as a doctrine of duties to God. Timmons concludes the book highlighting key aspects of The Doctrine of Virtue, situating Kant's ethical theory in relation to other normative ethical theories. This guide is a vital resource for both students and scholars interested in ethics and the history of philosophy.


  • Written to be read alongside Kant's text, presenting Kant's views in clear language
  • Offers novel interpretations of many doctrines and arguments in Kant's text
  • First book in issue to serve as a guide to Kant's normative ethical theory

About the Author(s)

Mark Timmons is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Arizona. He specializes in metaethics, Kant's ethics, and normative moral theory. He is author of Morality without Foundations (1999) and Moral Theory: An Introduction, 2nd edition (2013). A collection of his previously published articles on Kant's ethics are included in Significance and System: Essays on Kant's Ethics (2017). He is editor of Oxford Studies in Normative Ethics, and editor or co-editor of many volumes.

Table of Contents

    Preface and acknowledgements
    Abbreviations for Kant's works and note on translations

    Part I: Background
    1. Life and Work
    2. Philosophical Background

    Part II: General Introduction to the Metaphysics of Morals
    3. On the Idea of and Necessity for a Metaphysics of Morals
    4. Mental Faculties, the Moral Law, and Human Motivation
    5. Preliminary Concepts and Division of the Metaphysics of Morals

    Part III: Introduction to the Doctrine of Virtue
    6. The Doctrine of Virtue as a Doctrine of Ends
    7. General Ends that are Also Duties
    8. Radical Evil and the Nature of Virtue
    9. The Science of Ethics

    Part IV: The Doctrine of Elements
    10. Perfect Duties to Oneself as an Animal Being
    11. Perfect Duties to Oneself Merely as a Moral Being
    12. Imperfect Duties to Oneself
    13. Duties of Love to Other Human Beings
    14. The Vices of Hatred and of Disrespect
    15. Friendship

    Part V: The Doctrine of Methods of Ethics and Conclusion
    16. Moral Education and Practice

    Concluding Reflections on Kant's Doctrine of Virtue

    Guide to Terminology