XI KANT KONGRESS, XI Congresso Kantiano Internazionale

The Role of Contempt in Kantian Ethics

Krista K. Thomason

Edificio: Palazzo dei Congressi
Sala: sala Diderot
Data: 24 maggio 2010 - 14:30
Ultima modifica: 13 aprile 2010


I argue in this paper that Kant can rightly employ contempt as an emotion of moral censure. Most Kant scholars claim that contempt is incompatible with the notion that all moral agents must be respected, but in the “Doctrine of Virtue” Kant readily appeals to contempt as an attitude that we take toward the vicious. I argue that this apparent tension in Kantian ethics between contempt and respect can be resolved. Kant claims that the source of the vices is self-conceit, which causes the vicious agent to deny others their claims to proper self-respect. I argue Kant appeals to contempt because self-conceit cannot the proper object of guilt or resentment. In this way, contempt can be justified because it is directed at an individual’s self-conceited persona and not the humanity within her.