Publication Date



Over the course of the past several decades, Kant scholars have made significant headway in showing that emotions play a more significant role in Kant's ethics than has traditionally been assumed. Closer attention has been paid to the Metaphysics of Morals (MS) where Kant provides important insights about the value of moral sentiments and the role they should play in our lives. One particularly important discussion occurs in sections 34 and 35 of the Doctrine of Virtue where Kant claims we have a duty to use sympathetic feelings "as a means of promoting active and rational benevolence" (MS 6:457). Kant labels this the "duty of humanity," and he suggests that nature has implanted sympathetic feelings in us "to do what the representation of duty alone might not accomplish" (ibid.). Commentators have rightly highlighted these remarks as prime evidence that feelings do play a positive role in Kant's ethics after all.


Institute for Religion and Critical Inquiry

Document Type

Journal Article

Access Rights

ERA Access

Access may be restricted.