Parfit’s Mixed Maxim Objection against the Formula of Universal Law Reconsidered

Martin Sticker, Matthias Hoesch*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

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Parfit’s Mixed Maxims Objection against Kant’s Formula of Universal Law raises the question of what the relation is between the moral evaluation of actions and of maxims. This problem has been overlooked in recent Kantian discussions about the plausibility of the Categorical Imperative formulas. Parfit argues that we should abandon Kant’s conception of a maxim as an object of moral evaluation, and instead ask whether the performance of certain types of actions can be willed as a universal law. In this article, we firstly distinguish and discuss several versions of the Mixed Maxims Objection. Secondly, we argue that moral philosophers can and should focus ethical evaluation on maxims, but they need to introduce the condition that, while permissible maxims must contain only morally relevant properties, they do not have to contain all of these properties. This conception allows us to meet Parfit’s challenge and hold on to the Kantian insight that maxims are of moral relevance.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Value Inquiry
Publication statusPublished - 30 Oct 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Open Access funding enabled and organized by Projekt DEAL. Funding was provided by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) under Germany’s Excellence Strategy – EXC 2060 “Religion and Politics. Dynamics of Tradition and Innovation” – 390726036; by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) funding for a Guest Chair at the Ruhr-Universität Bochum; and by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation grant no. 075-15-2019-1929, project’ Kantian Rationality and Its Impact in Contemporary Science, Technology, and Social Institutions’ provided at the Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University (IKBFU), Kaliningrad.


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