Self-improvement: An Essay in Kantian Ethics

ISBN : 9780199599349

Robert N. Johnson
192 Pages
136 x 218 mm
Pub date
Oct 2011
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Is there any moral obligation to improve oneself, to foster and develop various capacities in oneself? From a broadly Kantian point of view, Self-Improvement defends the view that there is such an obligation and that it is an obligation that each person owes to him or herself. The defence addresses a range of arguments philosophers have mobilized against this idea, including the argument that it is impossible to owe anything to yourself, and the view that an obligation to improve onself is overly 'moralistic'. Robert N. Johnson argues against Kantian universalization arguments for the duty of self-improvement, as well as arguments that bottom out in a supposed value humanity has. At the same time, he defends a position based on the notion that self- and other-respecting agents would, under the right circumstances, accept the principle of self-improvement and would leave it up to each to be the person to whom this duty is owed.


1. Introduction
2. What is an ability?
3. Duties to and regarding ourselves
4. What we can't improve in others
5. Self-improvement as an imperfect duty
6. The Universalizability of self-improvement
7. Self-respect and self-improvement

About the author: 

Robert N. Johnson is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Missouri. He is the author of numerous articles on ethical theory and Kantian ethics.

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