Kant and the Role of Pleasure in Moral Action — 2008

By Iain P. D. Morrisson

“This in depth examination of a difficult point of Kantian thought, one which Kant himself might not have completely formulated, is clearly presented and refreshingly free of jargon.”

Book News, Inc.

“In this book Morrisson’s ambitious project is to make sense of Kant’s account of how the moral law of reason motivates human action. This is a famously difficult problem in Kant’s moral theory, one that has puzzled Kant scholars since the theory’s inception.…Morrisson demonstrates tremendous courage in his account and his book is worth a read for this reason alone.”

Philosophy in Review

“Iain Morrisson's book is an exemplar of up-to-date and lucid Kant scholarship. Furthermore, it is a book from which non-historians of early modern philosophy would learn as well, since the monograph provides numerous insights that go beyond exegetical questions concerning Kant's corpus.”

Metapsychology Online Reviews

Kant scholars since the early nineteenth century have disa­greed about how to interpret his theory of moral motivation. Kant tells us that the feeling of respect is the incentive to moral action, but he is notoriously ambiguous on the question of what exactly this means. In Kant and the Role of Pleasure in Moral Action, Iain Morrisson offers a new view on Kant’s theory of moral action.

In a clear, straightforward style, Morrisson responds to the ongoing interpretive stalemate by taking an original approach to the problem. Whereas previous commentators have attempted to understand Kant’s feeling of respect by studying the relevant textual evidence in isolation, Morrisson illuminates this evidence by determining what Kant’s more general theory of action commits him to regarding moral action. After looking at how Kant’s treatment of desire and feeling can be reconciled with his famous account of free maxim-based action, Morrisson argues that respect moves us to moral action in a way that is structurally parallel to the way in which nonmoral pleasure motivates nonmoral action.

In reconstructing a unified theory of action in Kant, Morrisson integrates a number of distinct elements in his practical philosophy. Kant and the Role of Pleasure in Moral Action is part of a new wave of interest in Kant’s anthropological (that is, psychological) works.


Picture of Iain P. D. Morrisson

Iain P. D. Morrisson is an instructional assistant professor in the Honors College at the University of Houston. He has published numerous articles on Kant and Nietzsche, including pieces in the Southern Journal of Philosophy and History of Philosophy Quarterly.