Love of honor, emulation, and the psychology of the devilish vices

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2 Scopus citations


Much has been written in recent years about virtue and the particular virtues featured in Kant’s ethics, focusing in particular on the Tugendlehre, part II of The Metaphysics of Morals (see, for example, Betzler 2008). Less attention has been given to what Kant has to say about vice and the particular vices. Kant’s own discussion of select vices in the Tugendlehre is quite brief, punctuated with remarks about the psychological sources of vicious character traits. In contrast, what we find in some of the lecture notes is a fairly rich discussion of the psychology of other-regarding vices involving what Kant refers to as emulation-an “impulse” implanted in human nature that strongly inclines humans to be “equal to the other in every respect” (V 27:695). Although this implanted impulse has the good of self-improvement as its purpose, under certain circumstances it contributes to the devilish vices of envy, ingratitude, and Schadenfreude. Our primary aim in this chapter is to provide an interpretation of Kant’s views concerning the psychology of the devilish vices-how individuals succumb to these vices-based on remarks in the Lectures. Of particular interest is the extent to which these vices share an underlying psychological unity, a claim suggested by some of Kant’s remarks. Before turning to the psychology of the devilish vices, we devote the first two sections of the chapter to a discussion of the elements that figure in Kant’s conception of virtue, including the dynamics of virtue acquisition and maintenance. Proceeding in this way provides the needed psychological background for understanding Kant’s account of the genesis of the devilish vices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationKant’s Lectures on Ethics
Subtitle of host publicationA Critical Guide
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)9781139567527
ISBN (Print)9781107036314
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)


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