File spoon-archives/bhaskar.archive/bhaskar_1999/bhaskar.9904, message 48

Date: Wed, 21 Apr 1999 13:37:40 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: BHA: Kant, the list, etc.

Hi all,

Thanks to Marsh, Bwanika (and Louis?), plus Colin who wrote to me off-line,
for your input on my Kant quandary.  I've been plugging along...

Louis (Hi!), in terms of Kant's ethics and the analyis of NATO's actions in
Yugoslavia, I think the focus on motivations was a reference to Kant's idea
that in order for an action to be moral it has to not just *be* the right
course of action, but be done *because* it's right, out of a sense of duty
(to conform to the requirements of reason/freedom) rather than on the basis
of any sort of self-interest or instrumental gain.  Kant has fancy words for
all of this, which I can't recall off of the top of my head.  

For what it's worth, I agree with Philip that, in and of themselves, NATO's
motives don't tell us whether their actions are right or good.  They may be
relevant in trying to make sense of *why* NATO is doing what they're doing
-- which real objectives, once identified, may, it's true, figure into any
reasoning about what *is* right or good.  But I agree that "Why are they
doing it?" is manifestly not the same question as "Should it be being done?"
and have also felt some frustration at their apparent conflation.  Also,
like Yoshie -- though maybe for different reasons --  I too am more
attracted a Virtue-based approach to moral questions than to a Right-based
approach.  It will be good when we get to the sections in DPF where we can
look closely at that debate from Bhaskar's perspective.  (Speaking of which,
does anyone know if Andrew Collier's book on DCR moral theory out yet?)

Finally, and also for what it's worth, I didn't find Tobin's tone to be smug
at all, although there were some barbs here and there.  I decided to ignore
a lot of the stuff that he chose to respond to, but that just means that I'm
a wimp and/or less optimistic about the potential for dialogue in certain
contexts.  I thought that his posts were quite principled, and frankly kind
of brave.  (And he does appear to be the only person involved in the
discussion who claims to have actually changed his mind!)  In any case, it's
a shame that the list seems to be so consistently prone to fall into
attack-mode these days -- it would be nice if we could find a way to reign
it in.   

Gary, will we get your summary of 2.5 soon?  Yes, yes?!


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