This essay distinguishes two concepts of compassion at works in Kant’s ethics. Proximal compassion is a sort of emotional contagion, which interferes with our capacities for rational agency, while distal compassion is active and rational, and key to Kant’s account of duties of virtue. To highlight the respective roles of these two kinds of compassion, the essay centers on a contrast with two distinct models of compassion which are said to sharply depart from Kant. First, Iris Murdoch relates compassion to the appreciation of concrete individuals, objecting that Kant’s discussion of rational agency overlooks individuality, hence canceling the deep differences in moral visions and outlooks. Second, for Theodor W. Adorno, compassion targets the injured and broken lives of vulnerable others, objecting that Kant’s ethics overlooks the genuine moral value of compassion. The argument is that Murdoch’s critique misleads us in objecting to abstraction, while Adorno’s critique places compassion in the right perspective, that is, the perspective of the vulnerable. However, Adorno’s critique is also partly misplaced, insofar as vulnerability is a driving concern in Kant’s theory of practical reason. This argument builds upon recent scholarship to show that the criticisms presented above misdiagnose Kant’s failure to account for compassion as a morally valuable emotion as lack of attention to individual vulnerability. The conclusion is that despite overwhelming critiques, Kant provides us with a useful distinction between two kinds of compassion, which coheres with empirical psychology and succeeds in vindicating the different roles of compassion in moral reasoning.

Compassion and Practical Reason: the Prospective of the Vulnerable / Bagnoli, Carla. - (2018), pp. 125-145.

Compassion and Practical Reason: the Prospective of the Vulnerable

Carla Bagnoli
2018

Abstract

This essay distinguishes two concepts of compassion at works in Kant’s ethics. Proximal compassion is a sort of emotional contagion, which interferes with our capacities for rational agency, while distal compassion is active and rational, and key to Kant’s account of duties of virtue. To highlight the respective roles of these two kinds of compassion, the essay centers on a contrast with two distinct models of compassion which are said to sharply depart from Kant. First, Iris Murdoch relates compassion to the appreciation of concrete individuals, objecting that Kant’s discussion of rational agency overlooks individuality, hence canceling the deep differences in moral visions and outlooks. Second, for Theodor W. Adorno, compassion targets the injured and broken lives of vulnerable others, objecting that Kant’s ethics overlooks the genuine moral value of compassion. The argument is that Murdoch’s critique misleads us in objecting to abstraction, while Adorno’s critique places compassion in the right perspective, that is, the perspective of the vulnerable. However, Adorno’s critique is also partly misplaced, insofar as vulnerability is a driving concern in Kant’s theory of practical reason. This argument builds upon recent scholarship to show that the criticisms presented above misdiagnose Kant’s failure to account for compassion as a morally valuable emotion as lack of attention to individual vulnerability. The conclusion is that despite overwhelming critiques, Kant provides us with a useful distinction between two kinds of compassion, which coheres with empirical psychology and succeeds in vindicating the different roles of compassion in moral reasoning.
THE MORAL PSYCHOLOGY OF COMPASSION
Carolyn Price and Justin Caouette
978-1-78660-418-7
Rowman and Littlefield International
STATI UNITI D'AMERICA
Compassion and Practical Reason: the Prospective of the Vulnerable / Bagnoli, Carla. - (2018), pp. 125-145.
Bagnoli, Carla
File in questo prodotto:
Non ci sono file associati a questo prodotto.
Pubblicazioni consigliate

Caricamento pubblicazioni consigliate

Licenza Creative Commons
I metadati presenti in IRIS UNIMORE sono rilasciati con licenza Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal, mentre i file delle pubblicazioni sono rilasciati con licenza Attribuzione 4.0 Internazionale (CC BY 4.0), salvo diversa indicazione.
In caso di violazione di copyright, contattare Supporto Iris

Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11380/1170604
Citazioni
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.pmc??? ND
  • Scopus ND
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.isi??? ND
social impact