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Jacques Louis David, The Oath of the Horatii, 1784 - page 11 / 80

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GOOD WILL III

A good will is necessary to make sure that what Kant calls gifts of fortune,” such as wealth and power, do not lead us astray as moral beings.

Even things which are thought to be “good in many respects,” such as “self-control and calm deliberation,” “have no intrinsic unconditional value, but always presuppose a good will.”

Not only are such things not absolutely good, as a good will is, but they can be put to bad use if not backed by a good will.  Thus we may admire qualities such as self-control and calm deliberation, but, if not backed by a good will they “may become extremely bad.”  For instance, Kant says that “the coolness of a villain makes him far more dangerous” [than he would have been had he lacked the self-control and calm deliberation that coolness implies].

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