The Forum for Philosophical Research at

The School of Politics, IR & Philosophy (SPIRE) and the Research Centre for SPIRE,

University of Keele

Invites you all to the next

Royal Institute of Philosophy Lecture

Aristotle on Duty and Kant on the Virtues

By: Dr Ralph Walker

On: Tuesday 30 March, 2010

From: 6-7.30 pm

At: CBA0.060, Chancellor’s Building

University of Keele

All Wecome! Wine!


For some time there has been a growing awareness that the central place Kant gives to acting out of duty is not inconsistent with his recognition of an important place for feeling in moral action. I shall argue that the relation between feeling and duty in Kant can be best understood through Aristotle’s concept of phronesis, and that the Aristotelian phronimos acts out of duty in a sense quite close to Kant’s. This involves recognising that an action can be both for the sake of kindness, or for the sake of a friend, and also for the sake of the moral law.

Kant may seem to differ from Aristotle in his insistence that one can act from duty against one’s inclinations. But Aristotle’s conception of enkrateia – continence, or strength of will – has to allow this too. Kant calls virtue “a moral strength of the will”, and this has sometimes seemed puzzling, but it should not. They both need a conception of strength of will, for very similar reasons: and the will that is strong can also be free. Given that, their conceptions of virtue and duty are remarkably similar.

About the Speaker

Dr Ralph Walker is CUF Lecturer, Felow and Tutor at Magdalen College, University of Oxford. His research interests are in the History of Philosophy, Epistemology, Metaphysics and Philosophy of Religion. He published numerous books and studies in the areas of his research interests, including Kant (1978), The Coherence Theory of Truth (1988), Kant and the Moral Law (1998), and “Kant and Transcendental Arguments” (2006).

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