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Love and Moral Psychology in Global Politics:

A Kantian Reworking of Rawls and Nussbaum[1]



Academia Kantiana, Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University, Russian Federation / Aalto University, Finland



For both John Rawls and Martha Nussbaum, the concept of love plays a significant role in moral psychology. Rawls views the sense of justice as grounded in parental love, and continuous with love of mankind. Nussbaum’s recent defence of patriotism revives the emotion of love as essential for political contexts. I argue that love ought to play a substantial part in the shaping of global politics, and that a moral psychology of love based merely on a combination of Rawls’s and Nussbaum’s accounts fails to produce an adequate ground for conceptualizing moral motivation with respect to addressing transnational concerns of justice. I contend that by critically synthesizing Rawls’s and Nussbaum’s conceptions of love and moral psychology with resources from Kant’s ethics, it is possible to develop a more attractive, and potentially politically effective, conception of love of human beings in the framework of political liberalism.



love, moral psychology, Rawls, Nussbaum, Kant, political liberalism



Rakkauden käsitteellä on tärkeä rooli John Rawlsin ja Martha Nussbaumin moraalipsykologioissa. Rawlsin mukaan oikeudentunto perustuu vanhempainrakkauteen ja on samalla jatkumolla ihmiskuntaan kohdistuvan rakkauden kanssa. Nussbaumin hiljattainen patriotismin puolustus elvyttää rakkauden tunteen olennaisena poliittisille viitekehyksille. Argumentoin, että rakkauden pitäisi näytellä merkittävää osaa maailmanpolitiikan hahmottumisessa, ja että rakkauden moraalipsykologia, joka perustuu yksinomaan Rawlsin ja Nussbaumin käsitysten yhdistelmään, epäonnistuu tuottamaan tarkoituksenmukaisen perustan moraalisen motivaation käsitteellistämiseksi suhteessa ylikansallisiin oikeudenmukaisuuteen liittyviin huoliin. Väitän, että syntetisoimalla kriittisesti Rawlsin ja Nussbaumin käsityksiä rakkaudesta ja moraalipsykologiasta Kantin etiikan resurssien kanssa, on mahdollista kehittää viehättävämpi, ja kenties poliittisesti tehokas käsitys ihmisrakkaudesta poliittisen liberalismin puitteissa.


rakkaus, moraalipsykologia, Rawls, Nussbaum, Kant, poliittinen liberalismi


1. Introduction

I argue that love ought to play a substantial role in the shaping of global politics, and that by critically synthesizing certain moral psychological notions from Rawls, Nussbaum, and Kant, it is possible to conceptualize a moral psychology for a politically effective love in a global context.[2] The resolution of contemporary global problems, such as climate change and rising income inequality especially in developed countries, requires not only multi-national, institutional co-operation, and individual understanding and acknowledgment of responsibility for the direct and indirect consequences of one’s actions, but also (or so I argue) love of human beings, understood as an attitude related to a duty of benevolence, which attitude involves respectful attachment to other human beings, and active, rational concern for their central capabilities.

For both John Rawls and Martha Nussbaum, the concept of love plays a significant role in moral psychology. Rawls views the sense of justice as grounded in parental love, and continuous with the love of mankind. Nevertheless, Rawls holds that an inclusive love of mankind is ‘supererogatory’ or ‘saintly’, and hence cannot be demanded of individuals let alone of institutions (Rawls 1971, p. 191f.; pp. 476-479). Nussbaum’s recent defence of patriotism revives the emotion of love as essential for political contexts. For Nussbaum, love is the emotion which denotes intense attachments to other persons, institutions, and ideals. According to her, love is a basic requirement for being effectively motivated to strive for justice. In her plea for a more humane and just society, Nussbaum calls for ‘love of one’s country’ to overcome narrow self-interest. (Nussbaum 2013, pp. 14-17)

While freedom and justice form the core value basis for public institutions in the liberal framework, it appears that love may be indispensable for enabling the adequate functionality of these institutions.  Following the work of Rawls and Nussbaum, this paper defends the view that there is an interplay between the policies of public institutions and the emotional dispositions of citizens in a given political context, and that relatively intense emotional attachments to concrete or ideal objects facilitate action with respect to those objects. In other words, human emotions participate in the shaping of politics, and we take better care of what we love.

If we think of certain problems within our current era of escalating globalisation, however, things like the tax-evading schemes of multinational corporations, say with respect to resource trading in African countries, or the hundreds of thousands of people killed in the Syrian Civil War (of whom at least 100000 have been civilians), or the refugees from the same war drowning in the Mediterranean, the victims of international crime industries like human trafficking, or the potentially hundreds of millions of climate refugees/climate immigrants we are anticipating because of unmitigated global warming - all kinds of existing or emerging capability deprivations or violations of basic human rights - my question is: is ‘love of one’s country’ really the best moral psychological way to deal with these kinds of issues? If love is required for there to be sufficient motivation for agents to act out of concern for others, as Nussbaum holds, then would it not be better to conceptualize love in more global terms? This might be the case especially if we want a moral psychology that is efficacious in tackling global problems, the solution of which does not necessarily serve the short term (economic and political) interests of our own country. Rawls thinks that the sense of justice is generally a sufficient source of motivation, whereas Nussbaum argues that if moral and political edification focuses on using nationalistic representations to promote altruistic and inclusive sentiments within a nation, this edification will eventually (or even ‘naturally’) lead to effective concern for the entitlements of citizens of other nations as well.

In this paper, I argue that a moral psychology of love based merely on a combination of Rawls’s and Nussbaum’s conceptions of moral psychology and love, fails to produce an adequate ground for conceptualizing moral motivation with respect to global or transnational concerns of justice. I contend that to effectively confront the most pressing global problems of our time, what humanity needs politically is a more direct rational and emotional engagement with representations of the planet Earth and of our species as a whole in terms of love. I argue further that there are resources in Kant’s ethics and moral psychology for conceptualizing this kind of love of human beings in an ethico-political context. In particular, I aim to show that Kant’s notions of ‘universal love of human beings’ [allgemeine Menschenliebe] and ‘friend of human beings’ [Freund der Menschen], which are founded on the concept of rationally commanded benevolence towards others, are fruitful in this respect.[3] I propose that by utilising these notions, it is possible to conceptualize politically relevant motivation with a global scope, such that the conceptualisation of the motivation in question avoids relying on the category of the ‘supererogatory’, is more universalistic in scope than the politics of love proposed by Nussbaum, and can be emotionally appealing despite building on a Kantian thought of ‘duty’.

The article is divided into two main parts. In the first part I explicate more precisely how Rawls and Nussbaum hold the views that I ascribe to them above, and in the second part I articulate what I call a ‘Kantian reworking’ of Rawls’s and Nussbaum’s conceptions of love. The upshot is a revised, ethico-political Kantian concept of ‘love of human beings’.

Three caveats are in order. First, the main question of the article is: What kind of moral psychology, from the perspective of political liberalism, would be effective in addressing contemporary global problems understood in terms of various capability deprivations? Within this article, my aim is not to give any detailed qualification of these problems themselves, nor do I discuss, or attempt to qualify, the specific empirical mechanisms or required actions through which these problems could be solved.

Second, I derive certain notions of love from Rawls and Nussbaum, which reveals my underlying commitment to the doctrine of political liberalism and the capability approach as Nussbaum has developed it. Even though I criticize some of these notions of love in order to arrive at a moral psychological concept of love of human beings, I do not challenge the basic frameworks, nor do I consider alternative frameworks, where it would be possible to conceptualize, maybe in a significantly different way, the kind of love that could be effective in a moral psychology framed in part to answer the question of how to care about solving transnational problems.

Third, the way I use the term ‘Kantian’ within the context of this article is rather thin: it merely means an approach which uses certain propositional or argumentative structures drawn from Kant’s philosophy - in this case from his ethics. Since my focus is the moral psychology of citizens within political liberalism, I am not discussing Kant’s own political philosophy or Rawls’s ealier ‘Kantian constructivism’, nor do I mean to imply further Kantian commitments beyond what I articulate.



2. Rawls and Nussbaum on Love and Justice

Taken together, we can summarize Rawls’s and Nussbaum’s moral psychologies of love through the following five propositions:

1. Love grounds moral psychology (Rawls, Nussbaum).

2. The emotion of love is necessary for one to effectively care (such that the care guides one’s actions) about justice (Nussbaum).

3. Love of humankind is as such null or at best supererogatory (Rawls).

4. Love of humankind cannot provide strong (or politically relevant) motivation (Nussbaum).

5. Love of one’s country is the proper moral psychological way to approach global concern (Nussbaum).


In the first section I explicate these propositions by looking first at Rawls’s understanding of love, and then Nussbaum’s.

2.1 Rawls

In chapter VIII of A Theory of Justice, Rawls presents a moral psychological account of how an individual’s sense of justice will develop in a well-ordered society, where institutions are reasonably just.[4] According to Rawls, the key moral psychological component for the stability of a reasonably just political society is the sense of justice, which is ultimately grounded on parental love.[5] In terms of developmental moral psychology, Rawls sketches a three-stage account of an individual’s moral development (and of her sense of justice in particular), such that the sequence proceeds according to the stages Rawls calls ‘the morality of authority’, ‘the morality of association’, and ‘the morality of principles’.

In general, Rawls holds that ‘love clearly has among its main elements the desire to advance the other person’s good as this person’s rational self-love would require’ (Rawls 1971, p. 190). In the first stage, which according to Rawls takes place mainly within the family[6], the parents love the child, and the child learns to reciprocate, not through a plainly rational process, but initially through instincts and desires: ‘given that family institutions are just, and that the parents love the child and manifestly express their love by caring for his good, then the child, recognizing their evident love of him, comes to love them.’ (Rawls 1971, p. 490) The second stage, ‘the morality of association’, develops as the child becomes older and enters society, and sees that others are doing their share in participating in various co-operative endeavours outside the family. After the early attachments of love, participation in a just social arrangement creates civic fellow feeling:  ‘[the] person develops ties of friendly feeling and trust toward others in the association as they with evident intention comply with their duties and obligations, and live up to the ideals of their station.’ (Rawls 1971, p. 490) In the last stage, moral desires, or the desire to be fair and to act justly, become motivated by a person’s attachment to principles and institutions of justice themselves:

[O]nce the attitudes of love and trust, and of friendly feeling and mutual confidence, have been generated in accordance with the two preceding psychological laws, then the recognition that we and those for whom we care are the beneficiaries of an established and enduring just institution tends to engender in us the corresponding sense of justice. (Rawls 1971, pp. 473-474)

Clearly, thus, in Rawls’s moral psychology the sense of justice is grounded on parental love, and developed through the agent’s gradually evolving recognition of social reciprocity mechanisms, such that the scope of the agent’s care and concern gradually expands from loving family relations to social associations generally, reaching finally a sense of justice motivated by the agent’s rational-affective attachment to the principles of justice. From the perspective of love there is, still, however, a fourth ‘step’ in Rawls’s moral psychology, where love is directed to a ‘plurality of persons’ with a ‘greater intensity and pervasiveness’ than would be required by the sense of justice (Rawls 1971, pp. 191-192). This is ‘love of mankind’, and according to Rawls ‘the sense of justice is continuous with the love of mankind.’ (Rawls 1971, p. 476) What separates the two is that love of mankind advances the common good in a way that ‘is supererogatory, going beyond the moral requirements and not invoking the exemptions which the principles of natural duty and obligation allow.’ (Rawls 1971, p. 476) Rawls states that the morality of love of mankind is ‘not one for ordinary persons, and its peculiar virtues are those of benevolence, a heightened sensitivity to the feelings and wants of others, and a proper humility and unconcern with self.’ (Rawls 1971, pp. 478-479)[7] As Rawls obviously holds that love of mankind is ‘continuous’ with the sense of justice, and that therefore love of mankind assumes the principles of justice (Rawls 1971, p. 191), love of mankind, too, is from a moral psychological perspective grounded in parental love. Unlike justice, however, love of mankind is not morally demanded of individuals, and is thus contingent on individual psychological features.[8]

To understand how exactly Rawls thinks that love of mankind is supererogatory, it is necessary to contrast love of mankind with the kind of beneficence that Rawls thinks is not supererogatory, i.e. the natural duty of ‘mutual aid’. This moral duty, which according to Rawls would be chosen in the original position, is the duty to assist those who are in need or under difficult circumstances. Rawls justifies this principle mainly on the basis that it creates trust and confidence in the good intentions of others, and that a society where no one cared to help others ‘would express an indifference if not disdain for human beings that would make a sense of our own worth impossible.’ (Rawls 1971, p. 339) The limits of the duty of aid express more precisely Rawls’s notion of the supererogatory nature of love of mankind: ‘For while we have a natural duty to bring about a great good, say, if we can do so relatively easily, we are released from this duty when the cost to ourselves is considerable.’ (Rawls 1971, p. 117; see also p. 438) In the case of protecting someone from ‘great harm or injury’ the requisite act is a natural duty ‘provided that the sacrifice and hazards to the agent are not very great.’ (Rawls 1971, pp. 438-439) In the Rawlsian picture, love of mankind thus denotes those moral psychological features of individuals that make them act on the duty of aid even in the case where acting on the duty cannot be done ‘relatively easily’ or when acting on the duty involves ‘considerable cost’ to oneself or (in the case of saving someone from great harm or injury) ‘very great sacrifice and hazards’. If helping others cannot be done relatively easily, without considerable cost to oneself, or without very great sacrifice and hazard (in the case of saving someone from great harm), according to Rawls there is in such cases no binding duty to help others.[9] Even though I find Rawls’s discussion appealing, I take issue with his moral psychological account of love of mankind. Before explicating my criticism, however, I wish to broaden our image of the moral psychology of love in post-Rawlsian liberal theory with the views provided by Martha Nussbaum.

2.2 Nussbaum

Whereas Rawls’s account of love belongs to a somewhat idealized model depicting how an individual’s sense of justice would develop in a just (or ‘well-ordered’) society, Nussbaum emphasizes, that her normative account of love is addressed specifically to ‘real, imperfect societies that aspire to justice.’ (Nussbaum 2013a, p. 15) Drawing from, and expanding on Rawls, Nussbaum holds that ‘all of the core emotions that sustain a decent society have their roots in, or are forms of, love’ (Nussbaum 2013a, p. 15). According to Nusbaum’s basic definition, love means ‘intense attachments to things outside the control of our will’ (Nussbaum 2013a, p.15). More than Rawls, she emphasizes the motivational aspect of love in effecting the demands of justice. To do the work of justice, love has to be relatively ‘intense’: ‘the principle-dependent emotions envisaged by Rawls, if not complemented and infused by love of this sort, will lie too near the surface of the mind to do the job he has in mind’ (Nussbaum 2013a, p. 15). What is clearly similar in Rawls’s and Nussbaum’s conceptions of love is that they both associate love with a concern for others. Nussbaum further maintains, just like Rawls, that prosocial ‘[p]ublic emotions are a source of stability for good political principles, and of motivation to make them effective.’ (Nussbaum 2013a, p. 134) There is an interplay between political principles, institutions, and the emotions of individuals. Tax and welfare policies, for instance, embody the emotion of sympathy, but in a way that is more stable than individual sympathy. Nussbaum writes: ‘When laws and institutions already embody the insights of good emotions, they facilitate the experience of those same emotions.’ (Nussbaum 2013a, p. 135)

Whereas for Rawls love is always ‘personal love’ in the sense that love is directed to persons (be it one’s nearest and dearest or an undefined plurality of persons, as in the case in ‘love of mankind’), for Nussbaum the objects of love can be ‘things’[10] more generally, including especially a general representation of the basic co-operative scheme of one’s society, i.e. the idea of one’s ‘nation’ or one’s ‘country’. Indeed, in Nussbaum’s recent discussion concerning the relationship between love, politics, and justice, the most important notion becomes unabashedly something Nussbaum calls ‘love of one’s country’ or ‘critical patriotism’. On the other hand, in contrast to Rawls, there is hardly any notion (supererogatory or not) of universal love of humankind to be detected in Nussbaum’s book Political Emotions: Why Love Matters for Justice.[11] This is not to say that Nussbaum would reject global concern, but it does show the scope of her conception of love as a moral psychological, motivationally relevant notion.

Nussbaum’s patriotic position is subtle, and obviously meant to accommodate both local and global concern. In 2011, she emphatically holds on to a relatively strong notion of a shared, global responsibility: ‘I argue that the whole world is under a collective obligation to secure the capabilities to all world citizens, even if there is no worldwide political organization.’ (Nussbaum 2011a, p. 167) According to Nussbaum, the duties corresponding to the entitlements of world citizens are to be fulfilled in the first instance by their own nations, and secondly by richer nations, multinational corporations, international agencies, non-governmental organisations, and also by individuals (see Nussbaum 2011a, p. 93, p. 116, p. 167). Clearly, responding to the demands related to the entitlements of world citizens is a complex, collaborative endeavour involving many kinds of agents, and requiring various kinds of interaction and co-operation of different agents on national and international levels.

On the basis of Political Emotions it seems that the main reason for Nussbaum’s apparent dismissal of global forms of love is that she thinks that such forms of love are unrealistic. Drawing in part from 19th century nationalists like Giuseppe Mazzini, Nussbaum argues that ‘a decent public culture cannot survive and flourish without’ the cultivation of ‘love of country’ (Nussbaum 2013a, p. 21). Because of de facto egoism and local loyalties in current societies, ‘unmediated cosmopolitan sympathy’ is too distant as a goal (Nussbaum 2013a, p. 56). According to Nussbaum the nation is required as a ‘fulcrum for leveraging global concern’ (Nussbaum 2013a, p. 17). In thinking of what kind of representations can be effective for inducing concern for others, Nussbaum asserts that only nationalistic representations can have motivational power: ‘[A]ny successful construction of political emotion must draw on the materials of the history and geography of the nation in question.’ (Nussbaum 2013a, p. 14) According to Nussbaum representations that appeal to global sentiments cannot motivate sufficiently: ‘It makes no sense to suppose that strong motivation can be generated by art, music, and rhetoric that are a common coin of all nations, a sort of Esperanto of the heart.’ (Nussbaum 2013a, p. 14) Nussbaum’s contention is that nationalistic love which promotes inclusion and dignity within a particular nation, will eventually lead to these ideas prevailing within international relationships. Her examples of how this can happen come especially from Lincoln’s and M.L. King’s speeches, which appeal to national sentiments and ideals within the nation, but end on more global notes. In Political Emotions, Nussbaum’s only statement with respect to a love that goes beyond the borders of one’s nation relates to King’s ‘I have a dream’ speech, where according to Nussbaum ‘critical patriotism melds naturally into a striving for global justice and an inclusive human love.’ (Nussbaum 2013a, p. 239) The implication of all this seems to be that Nussbaum thinks that without a strong and explicitly stated patriotism, which appeals to the history of a nation, any notion of meaningful or motivationally adequate global love is hopeless.

I believe these considerations show that Rawls and Nussbaum do indeed hold the positions concerning love and moral psychology which I ascribed to them in the beginning of this section. Accepting propositions 1 and 2, I will now move on to criticize propositions 3-5. Through my argument, I will offer a Kantian reworking of the moral psychological framework of love expressed by the propositions.


3. A Kantian Reworking of Rawls’s and Nussbaum’s Notions of Love of Humankind

My argument will proceed in three steps. In the first step I argue that if Nussbaum is correct, and an attitude of love is indeed required in order for one to effectively care for justice (proposition 2), then conceiving love of humankind as supererogatory in the way Rawls does (proposition 3), creates significant problems for inducing moral motivation in transnational cases. In the second step I propose an alternative conceptualisation of love of humankind as an attitude related to a Kantian duty of benevolence (and beneficence). This attitude combines rational and affective elements within the context of a liberal ethico-political moral psychology (I call this alternative notion ‘love of human beings’). In the third step I criticize, in the light of recent empirical research, Nussbaum’s ideas according to which love of humankind cannot provide politically relevant motivation (proposition 4) and love of one’s country is the proper (and only feasible) moral psychological way to approach global concern (proposition 5). Overall, my argument will provide a reworking of Rawls’s and Nussbaum’s positions with respect to the moral psychological notion of love in a political context. I am not out to simplistically reject Nussbaum’s notion of ‘patriotic love’, but rather to supplement it with a new conceptual scheme for ‘love of human beings’.

3.1 The Problem of Supererogatory Love of Humankind

From the perspective of Nussbaum’s criticism and elaboration on Rawls’s moral psychology, there are two main problems with the way Rawls conceives of love of mankind as supererogatory, both of which problems have to do with the question of moral motivation. First, remember that Rawls holds that love of mankind is directed to a plurality of persons or the common good, and that as a moral disposition, love of mankind is ‘not for ordinary persons’ (Rawls 1971, p. 479). In Rawls’s well-ordered society, the sense of justice is a sufficient moral motive, and Rawls does not specifically address the question of motivation concerning real, imperfect societies, or his international duty of aid. Nussbaum holds that the sense of justice is not a sufficient motive in real societies, and she argues that the sense of justice has to be infused with a more affective disposition of love in order to bring about (stable) justice (see Nussbaum 2013a, p. 15). If Nussbaum is correct here (as I think she is), then the first problem with Rawls’s conception of love of mankind is simply this: if love is required for effective moral motivation in real societies, and love of mankind is not for ordinary persons, then there is no feasible concept of love in Rawls’s framework, such that could support moral motivation in cases where justice requires international or transnational concern. Nussbaum thinks that nationalistic love is fit for this job, and I take issue with her arguments in the last section. The second problem with Rawls’s conception of love of mankind as supererogatory concerns the subjective dimension of how agents interpret what their duty is. Remember Rawls’s criteria for supererogatory beneficence: a beneficent action is supererogatory (and thus expressive of Rawlsian love of mankind) if in a case where it would otherwise be a duty to help others, the requisite action cannot be undertaken ‘relatively easily’, without a ‘considerable cost to oneself’, or in the case of saving others from ‘great harm or injury’ without ‘very great sacrifice and hazard’ to oneself. As Rawls, when it comes to duty, associates the notion of love (which, following Nussbaum’s argumentation, is the core motivational concept) with supererogation, in cases where it is unclear whether or not some action will be conceived as a duty, agents will lack motivation to perform the action in question. Consider Nussbaum’s demand that richer nations should give 2% of their GDP to poorer nations as part of the duty to secure capabilities to all world citizens (Nussbaum 2011a, p. 167). Now assume that the policy-makers of richer countries have a Rawlsian moral psychology. Persons who accept the Rawlsian international duty of assistance (see my fn. 9) and whose moral psychological framework includes the Rawlsian criteria of supererogation, and who therefore do not consider themselves duty bound in terms of ‘love of humankind’ (as love of humankind is not for ordinary persons), will be prone to make the interpretation that giving 2% of their nation’s GDP will be a ‘considerable cost’. Further, to make feasible a scheme where 2% of the nation’s GDP is internationally redistributed might well include raising the de facto overall taxes of the richest fraction of individuals within the nation (or raising taxes internationally through the co-operation of nations). As according to Rawls the difference principle does not as such apply to the international case, the richest fraction will presumably consider any internationally motivated raise in their taxes a ‘considerable cost’[12], and their objections will mean that the task for policymakers to implement the raise in taxes may not be ‘relatively easy’.[13] Of course, in the clearest cases of emergency, say a humanitarian catastrophe, Rawls’s duty of assistance/aid will prescribe effective actions of beneficence. But in international cases where the bounds of duty are not so clear (as with the case of how to secure capabilities to all world citizens), Rawlsian moral psychology leaves too much space for supererogation, and lacks motivational efficacy. Especially as according to Rawls the difference principle is not applicable to the international case, the Rawlsian sense of justice (with its accompanying duties of ‘mutual aid’ and ‘assistance’) is too far removed from non-ideal theory concerning the entitlements of world citizens, unless backed up by a more robust moral psychological notion of an attitude of inclusive love. As it is plausible to assume that most of humanity (including policymakers and other people in positions of de facto international power) belongs to the set of ‘ordinary persons’, what would be required of any politically feasible notion of ‘love of humankind’ is that the notion could in principle be adopted by ‘ordinary persons’. In order to avoid the basic problem of supererogation, the notion should involve or be related to a duty, and for reasons of stability, it should be connected to fundamental capability entitlements of world citizens (or a set of human rights or basic goods defined in some other way). This kind of concept of ‘love of human beings’ will be sketched out on a Kantian basis in the next section.

3.2 Love as a Duty

I propose to conceive of love of human beings as an attitude related to a duty of benevolence (and beneficence), which attitude incorporates affective concern for others and leads to beneficence corresponding with the capability entitlements of world citizens. I must emphasize at the outset, that when proposing love of human beings as an attitude related to a duty, I am not implying the comprehensive doctrine of cosmopolitanism that Nussbaum rejects, nor am I saying anything (at this point) about the priority rankings between the duty of love of human beings and other, more particularistic duties. For the sake of argument, let us assume Nussbaum’s notion that world citizens’ rights claims related to capability entitlements are grounded in ‘bare human birth and minimal agency’ (Nussbaum 2011a, p. 63) or the citizens’ ‘humanity’,[14] and that the governments of richer nations have a duty to assist poorer nations, if the poorer nations, by themselves, cannot secure the capabilities to their citizens (Nussbaum 2011a, pp. 169-170). What I am after here is a notion of love of human beings, which can be incorporated into the capabilities approach, and which can provide much needed motivational support for the cases where duty has to be understood in international terms. I will articulate this notion of love of human beings using certain conceptual elements and inference structures drawn from Kant’s moral philosophy, and like I have already emphasized, my procedure does not imply further commitments to Kant’s moral metaphysics. As will be made clear below, my notion will in fact be somewhat different from Kant’s.

In The Metaphysics of Morals Kant argues that there are two ends that are also duties: one’s own perfection and the happiness of others.[15] The first prescribes the cultivation of one’s natural faculties and one’s moral will, and the second prescribes active rational benevolence towards others. Kant calls the duty to promote the happiness of others the ‘duty of love to other human beings’ (AA 6: 448). It can ‘also be expressed as the duty to make others’ ends my own’ (AA 6: 450). Making others’ ends one’s own should be interpreted such that one strives to help and to facilitate the others’ pursuit of their ends, as their rational self-love would require (given that their ends are not immoral). The inferences with which Kant justifies the existence of the duty of love to others are notably simple in their structure, and in my view, deserve to be highlighted in contemporary discussion concerning the role of love in conceptualizing moral motivation. First, there is an inference to justify, in terms of duty, a global attitude of benevolence, which Kant also calls ‘universal love of human beings’ [allgemeine Menschenliebe]: ‘I want everyone else to be benevolent toward me […]; hence I ought also to be benevolent toward everyone else.’ (AA 6: 451) According to Kant, our maxim of self-love, i.e. the notion that we want to be happy or want things to go well for ourselves, is plausible only on the condition that the maxim qualifies as a universal law, which in this case means that the maxim must be conditioned such that it takes into account the happiness of everyone (i.e. the happiness of oneself and of others). Should one try to universalise the rejection of benevolence for others, one would also be denied the benevolence one wants from others, which would introduce a contradiction in willing into the maxim of self-love (see AA 5: 34). At bottom, Kant’s basic inference regarding the duty of benevolence seems to be a variation of the Golden Rule, and the inference relies on idealized reciprocity conditions that could in principle appeal to any reasonable person who accepts the Rawlsian sense of justice, or any variation of the Golden Rule, irrespective of whether or not they subscribe to the moral metaphysics underlying Kant’s categorical imperative. For Kant, this inference – ‘I want everyone else to be benevolent toward me, therefore I ought to be benevolent toward everyone else’ - yields a thin notion of love of human beings, which benevolent love according to Kant is ‘the greatest in its extent, but the smallest in its degree’ (AA 6: 451). At the outset of this broadest case of love for all human beings one’s interest in the well-being of others is minimal, and it borders on indifference: ‘the interest I take is as slight as an interest can be.’ (AA 6: 451) In the next step of Kant’s conception of the duty of love, however, the duty becomes somewhat more demanding. Kant introduces a distinction between ‘benevolence’ and ‘beneficence’, such that ‘[b]enevolence is satisfaction in the happiness (well-being) of others; but beneficence is the maxim of making others’ happiness one’s end’ (AA 6: 452). The inference with which Kant justifies the notion of beneficence as a duty is similar to the inference justifying the universal duty of benevolence: ‘To be beneficent, that is, to promote according to one’s means the happiness of others in need, without hoping for something in return, is everyone’s duty. For everyone who finds himself in need wishes to be helped by others.’ (AA 6: 453) According to Kant, beneficence toward those in need is therefore a universal duty of human beings. In sum, Kant’s notion of a duty of love, which he essentially identifies as ‘practical love’, signifies active, rational benevolence towards others, which leads to beneficence to others in need.

I think these citations bring out the basic benefits that Kant’s conception of the duty of practical love has over Rawls’s notion of love of mankind. Whereas Rawls’s love of mankind is ‘not for ordinary persons’, Kant’s love of human beings is at bottom a duty of everyone toward everyone, and as practical love, it is a duty to help others in need (and to cultivate[16] a benevolent disposition). Further, as a moral psychological attitude related to the duty of benevolence (and beneficence), Kantian love of human beings cannot be equated with Rawls’s duty of mutual aid.[17] Since a Kantian conceptualisation of the duty to help others yields a conception of the duty (and the related attitude) in terms of love, the Kantian conceptualisation is much more promising for a philosophical framework which thinks of moral motivation and the striving for justice in terms of love, than a notion according to which global love or love of mankind is ‘not for ordinary persons’.[18] Note also that the Kantian inference structures that I have quoted above make no claim that the duty of love would be somehow more fundamental than some other duties (for instance the duty to respect the freedom of others, or duties to God in a religious comprehensive doctrine). I argue merely that by using the Kantian inference structures, it is possible to conceptualize the existence of such a thing as the duty of love and the moral psychological attitude of love of human beings related to the duty.

I should make three further, interrelated remarks. First, it is not at all clear from the above quotations from Kant, how to perform the duty of love to others in cases where resources are limited and it is not possible to be beneficent to everyone in need. How much is one to do, and how to deal with cases where the duty of love imposes conflicting demands on the agent? Since what is primarily prescribed in the duty of love are the maxims of benevolence toward everyone and beneficence toward those in need, the duty as such leaves the specific means and measures of fulfilling the duty undetermined. The agent is left with latitude concerning how the maxims are to be specified. The duty of love of human beings prescribes a minimum amount of attachment or affectionate love toward all human beings (taking a minimum of delight in their well-being)[19], and a sufficiently effective measure to help those in need. The duty of love is not, however, an impartialist duty in the sense that the agent who harbours love of humankind would have to denounce all particularistic loyalties, or that there could not be any affectionate privileging when it comes to the fulfillment of the duty to help others. The latitude should not be interpreted as a permission to relinquish the globality of the maxims; love of human beings being a ‘wide duty’ merely allows one to limit the global maxims with a certain amount of more local affectionate concerns. In Kant’s own words: ‘[A] wide duty is not to be taken as permission to make exceptions to the maxim of actions but only as permission to limit one maxim of duty by another (e.g. love of one’s neighbor in general by love of one’s parents)’. (AA 6: 390)[20] In this way, the Kantian duty of love of human beings does not invoke supererogation, and it clearly cannot be thought in terms of a strong, impartialist cosmopolitanism, where a required loyalty to ‘all humanity’ would always trump other duties, and which cosmopolitanism would leave no room for local allegiances. Therefore, the Kantian duty of love cannot be identified with the kind of cosmopolitanism which Nussbaum (e.g. 2008) rejects.

Second, Kant himself thinks of the duty of love as an ‘imperfect duty’ or a ‘duty of virtue’. Besides leaving latitude as to how the maxims related to the duty are to be specified and what actions taken, Kant’s concept of a ‘duty of virtue’ involves the notion that there is, strictly speaking, no right on the part of the other, to which the duty would correspond: ‘Fulfillment of them [imperfect duties, duties of virtue] is merit […] = +a; but failure to fulfill them is not in itself culpability […] = -a, but rather mere deficiency in moral worth = 0’. (AA 6: 390) In other words, while the duty of love imposes demands on the agent, most importantly the demand to set for oneself the end of the happiness of others, in Kant’s own conception of the duty there is no corresponding entitlement on the part of the recipient, and fulfilling the duty places the recipient in a state of moral debt. According to Kant, the cultivation of virtue means, that in her disposition or frame of mind, the agent brings the wide duties closer to strict duties of right. This means that even though for Kant, the recipient of beneficence is not entitled to the help as a matter of right, the agent cultivates virtue by representing the situation to herself in such a way that there is a right claim (or something like a right claim) involved (see AA 6: 390; 6: 453; cf. 27: 416).

This is not the way I conceive of the duty of love in the context of this article. Following Nussbaum in the way she conceptualizes global entitlements, I propose the duty of love to be understood as corresponding to the entitlements of world citizens. A basic problem in the global, or international case is that there is an asymmetry between the capabilities conceived as global rights (or human rights), and the fact that there is no single political organisation or legal apparatus that could enforce these rights. I therefore contend that the duty of love binds all minimally competent agents, who are able to comprehend the basic content of the duty: to harbour at least minimal benevelonce for all, and to help those in need (i.e. at least those who lack central capabilities). From this perspective, the duty of love can be understood as a moral psychological vehicle, which may (through its prescribed attitude of love of human beings) induce motivation for responding effectively to capability entitlements, also in cases where it is not simple to identify a particular agent who obviously has the duty that corresponds with the entitlement in question.

Thirdly, what I do accept from Kant, is the normative notion of moral (psychological) progress. The duty of love should be understood as closely connected to the notion of being a ‘friend of human beings’ [Freund der Menschen]. A friend of human beings is first of all ‘one who takes an affective interest in the well-being of all human beings (rejoices with them) and will never disturb it without heartfelt regret.’ (AA 6: 472; see also 27: 430) This interest amounts to adopting the duty of benevolence, but Kant adds the further condition that in its proper meaning, being a friend of human beings includes ‘thought and consideration for the equality among them, and hence the idea that in putting others under obligation by his beneficence he is himself under obligation’ (AA 6: 473).[21] In the Vigilantius lecture notes on ethics (from 1794), Kant warns, in a tone reminiscent of Nussbaum’s critical discussion of cosmopolitanism (see e.g. Nussbaum 2008), about the risks involved in being a friend of human beings. Obviously, sectarian loyalties are prone to cause one to close one’s heart toward outsiders, and to detach oneself from an allegiance to the generality of humankind. But, according to Kant, ‘the friend to all humanity, on the other hand, seems equally open to censure, since he cannot fail to dissipate his inclination through its excessive generality, and quite loses any adherence to individual persons, so that only love of country seems to figure as the end in view, though there is no denying that the great value of human love rests in the general love of humanity as such.’ (AA 27: 673) I take it that this kind of position could be compatible with Nussbaum’s view. As the unpublished Vigilantius lecture notes predate The Metaphysics of Morals (1797), however, we must take it that Kant’s considered official position clearly affirms the global notion of a ‘friend of human beings’, but as the lecture notes testify, Kant does not reject patriotism as such. In harmony with Kant and Nussbaum, a rejection of patriotism is not my aim either. The notion of being a friend of human beings adds to the duty of love (and the attitude of love of human beings) the requirement to acknowledge and respect the fundamental equality of human beings. What I have done with respect to Rawls’s and Nussbaum’s conceptions of love, is that I have formulated an arguably better developed moral psychological notion of love of human beings (using resources from Kant), according to which love of human beings is a rational-affective attitude of concern for other human beings, as related to a duty of love which corresponds to capability entitlements of world citizens (without succumbing to strong impartialist cosmopolitanism).

3.3 The Question of Motivation

In the last section I argue that the kind of love of human beings sketched out above is a better basis for conceptualizing transnational moral motivation than the patriotic love favored by Nussbaum. If love is required for adequate motivation to care about justice, then for solving problems which require concern beyond one’s own nation, it would be better to have a concept of love, which reaches beyond one’s own nation. Now remember Nussbaum’s positions according to which love of humankind cannot provide strong (or politically relevant) motivation, and that love of one’s country is the proper moral psychological way to approach global concern.

Even if one accepts my basic conceptual reworking of Rawls’s and Nussbaum’s conceptions of love of humankind, there is still, however, the question of whether the thin framework of the duty of love of human beings can have motivational power. How could weak universal love be intensified to effectively respond to global problems or to meet global capability demands? The question of motivation is not merely conceptual, and goes beyond the Rawlsian notion of moral psychology. What I wish to point out in this final section is that Nussbaum’s dismissal of motivationally adequate global love in favor of patriotic love is in fact a problematic stipulation related to her patriotic position. As empirical plausibility is essential for Nussbaum’s philosophical position and argument on the moral psychology of patriotic love, I am warranted in holding that the philosophical discussion concerning real moral motivation related to the conceptual devices of moral psychology should be informed by empirical science. There is some scientific evidence that active global concern can be motivated by non-nationalistic representations (Faulkner 2017a; see also Bruneau et al. 2015; Cameron 2017), and some evidence that increased in-group empathy actually predicts reduced altruism and increased hostility towards out-groups (Bruneau et al. 2017).

Nussbaum is correct that there is no global culture which could be appealed to when creating, for instance, art, music and rhetoric to induce political emotions. She is also correct that in the contemporary world, to work effectively, mechanisms of global justice require people to be at least somewhat attached to institutional frameworks within their own nations. It does not follow from these considerations, however, that there could be no motivationally effective representational vehicles of global concern, that do not primarily appeal to patriotic feelings.

In what is one of the very few empirical studies on this topic, Nicholas Faulkner showed that if American participants who read an article about a child-labourer in an Ethiopian sweat-shop, were also asked to imagine how the child feels and how his life must be like, they were significantly more willing to do voluntary work for an organisation that aims to end child-labour, than participants who were not asked to take the child’s perspective (Faulkner 2017a).[22]  The study indicates that empathy can operate irrespective of nationalism or patriotic love, and that information on global injustice, coupled with empathy, can induce transnational moral motivation. It is thus possible to conceive of representational mechanisms that do not make reference to patriotic love or the history of one’s own country but nevertheless have a motivationally positive effect. True, these kinds of emotions can be fleeting, but I see no principled obstacle why they could not be stabilized with education and sustained representational strategies that emphasize justice and a minimum of love towards all human beings.

To give another kind of example, we also know from the case of space travel, that when astronauts see the planet Earth from space, they experience great awe, a dissolution of national boundaries and a strong, particularistic sense of care for the whole planet. They see the pale-blue Earth alone in the vast darkness, with a paper-thin atmosphere protecting it, and they feel that the planet and the life that it contains are fragile and need active care and support. Some report being filled with compassion and love for all humanity. (Yaden et al. 2016, p. 3) When the astronauts return to Earth, they may become environmentalists or peace activists. The psychologists call this experience ‘the overview effect’ (see White 1987;[23] see also e.g. Yaden et al. 2016). The overview effect clearly shows that it is possible to be strongly motivated by non-nationalistic representations - and one does not have to go all the way to space to get a sense of the overview effect. One may arrive at an emotionally aware understanding of the motivational power of the overview effect by merely representing it in speech based on the reports of others, and by one’s own sense of what the planet Earth looks like from outer space. I see no reason why these kinds of representations could not be used as vehicles for supporting and strengthening motivation in a philosophical and educational discourse on global, political love, for instance together with factual information on global injustices and emotive narratives of individuals affected by injustice or the lack of central capabilities. In the sphere of rhetoric and art, someone who is not motivated by the nationalistic speeches of Lincoln, which Nussbaum favours, might well find inspiration in, say, John Lennon’s non-nationalistic vision, which by means of popular music calls us to ‘imagine all the people sharing all the world’, thus expressing an ideal of inclusive love without patriotism. For both the conceptual reasons discussed previously, and the kinds of empirical reasons mentioned above, it appears reasonable to think that the patriotic love endorsed by Nussbaum is by no means a necessary foundation for active global concern.

 Further, there is recent scientific evidence according to which increased in-group empathy predicts reduced altruism and increased hostility towards outgroups (Bruneau et al. 2017). In a series of three experiments, U.S. citizens regarding Arabs, Hungarians regarding refugees, and Greeks regarding Germans, Bruneau et al. showed that more nationalistic (or ‘parochial’) empathy[24] corresponds with reduced out-group helping behaviour, increased support for anti-immigrant and anti-refugee policies, and endorsement of passive harm for out-groups. Increased out-group empathy has the opposite effect. Even if inconclusive, these results strongly suggest that in order to promote out-group helping behaviour and reduce the gap between in-group and out-group empathy, it would be better not to increase love of one’s country or even overall empathy, but rather to focus on increasing out-group empathy and social identification with out-groups. Nussbaum’s assumption according to which ‘critical patriotism melds naturally into a striving for global justice and an inclusive human love’ (Nussbaum 2013a, p. 239) appears problematic in the light of empirical research. More research is still needed to form a scientific picture of how transnational moral motivation works from an empirical moral psychological perspective.

Even though we are naturally more prone to in-group than out-group empathy (Cikara et al. 2014; see Cameron 2017), based on what we currently know about human psychology, it makes sense to try out motivational strategies that do not rely on nationalistic sentiments. As Nussbaum has argued so well, stories, music, theatre, and other kinds of emotional messaging are required to create communal political love (Nussbaum 2013a; see also Cameron 2017). Unlike Nussbaum claims, however, this love does not necessarily have to be nationalistic. Narratives that highlight the personalities, hopes, thoughts, and dreams of individual out-group members can be particularly effective in mitigating parochial empathy (Bruneau et al. 2015) and increasing out-group empathy (Faulkner 2017a). An improved understanding of empirical empathy mechanisms will certainly be beneficial for the moral psychology of love of human beings. If we think from the perspective of transnational concern, even though emotional messaging will vary according to culture or audience, it is plausible to assume that non-nationalistic messages of political love can be created, and that these messages can provide support for an attitude of love of human beings as related to a duty of love, which demands that one ought to strive to secure the central capabilities for all world citizens. The aim of this paper has been merely to conceptualise such an attitude of love of human beings using Kantian resourses in the moral psychological framework of political liberalism (as exemplified by Rawls and Nussbaum).



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[1] This research was supported by the Russian Academic Excellence Project at the Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University.

· Pärttyli Rinne (PhD, University of St Andrews) is a visiting researcher at Aalto University, Department of Neuroscience and Biomedical Engineering, Brain and Mind Laboratory. Rinne specializes in Kant’s philosophy and philosophy of love. He is the author of the monograph Kant on Love (De Gruyter 2018) and has published several articles on Kant’s philosophy and philosophy of love more broadly. Besides collaborating with cognitive neuroscientists on a project “Somatic and Neural Correlates of Love”, Rinne is currently co-editing a collection of essays Kant on Sex, Love, and Friendship. Rinne is also a novelist and an award-winning scriptwriter. Email:

[2] My usage of the term ‘moral psychology’ will be roughly Rawlsian throughout this article. That is, by ‘moral psychology’ I do not refer to a descriptive or explanatory study of morality within psychology understood as an empirical science. Rather, by ‘moral psychology’ I mean a quasi-normative philosophical discourse, which formulates basic principles for conceiving the psychologies of such persons who effectively care about justice. The basic question of moral psychology is: under which kind of psychological conditions could society, or the global order, be stable and just? In this way, Rawlsian moral psychology can be seen as a bridge between ‘ideal’ and ‘non-ideal’ theory: it strives to express idealized and simplified conceptions of persons, the elements of which conceptions can serve as regulative guidelines for real persons (who are at least minimally interested in justice). In the concluding section of the article, however, I point to the need of connecting Rawlsian moral psychology with a scientifically informed understanding of real human moral motivation.

[3] Translations of Kant’s texts in this article are from the standard Cambridge Edition, and citations follow the Akademieausgabe.

[4] Even though in Political Liberalism Rawls brackets the moral metaphysics of Theory in favor of a ‘political’ conception of justice, in the second ‘Introduction’ to Political Liberalism he explicitly holds on to the moral psychology presented in Theory (Rawls 1996, p. lx; see also Voice 2015, p. 468). This implies that Rawls intends his basic moral psychological principles to be applicable to all citizens within a well-ordered society, irrespective of their reasonable comprehensive doctrine.

[5] In Theory, Rawls further assumes that the human sense of justice is a species-level evolutionary adaptation, such that the biological notion of ‘reciprocal altruism’ is the ‘biological analogue of the cooperative virtues of fairness and good faith’ (Rawls 1971, p. 503n.27).

[6] For feminist criticisms problematizing Rawls’s assumption that the family is just in a well-ordered society, see e.g. (Hearns 1983; Okin 1989; see also Kittay 1999). In ‘The Idea of Public Reason Revisited’ Rawls concedes to the feminist critcisms (Rawls 1999, pp. 156-164). For problems with Rawls’s revised account of the family, see (Nussbaum 2002b, pp. 503-507). Even though questions concerning the relationships between the family, love, and justice with respect to sex and gender differences are obviously relevant for any political conception of love, a discussion of these questions falls outside the aims and scope of the present paper.

[7] Besides ‘love of mankind’, according to Rawls another aspect of supererogation is ‘self-command’, which notion he derives from Adam Smith (Rawls 1971, p. 479). Rawls acknowledges his conception of supererogation to be indebted to Urmson (1958).

[8] Cf. Reidy (2015), who apparently ascribes to Rawls the view that love of humankind emerges in all agents who develop a sense of justice according to the three-stage process of moral development. According to Reidy, honouring moral principles is in part an ‘expression of this general love of humankind’ (Reidy 2015, p. 525). Reidy’s reading omits the fact that Rawls holds that love of mankind is ‘not for ordinary persons’, and repeatedly emphasizes that it is supererogatory. For another unproblematized account of Rawls’s ‘love of mankind’, similar to that of Reidy’s, see Nussbaum (2002b, p. 497).

[9] In Rawls’s framework, the international correlate for the duty of aid is the ‘duty of assistance’, which is the duty of well-ordered peoples to assist ‘burdened societies’, which, because of unfavourable circumstances, have not been able to develop a liberal or decent political culture (Rawls 1999). This duty may involve financial assistance from wealthier, well-ordered societies to the burdened society to the extent, that the burdened society is able to establish basically just political institutions. However, unlike in the domestic case, Rawls is not very concerned about wealth differences between nations, and he seems to hold that a better way (than distributing wealth) to influence a burdened political culture may at least in some cases be giving advice with the intention of helping the burdened society to establish a liberal or decent political culture. Rawls’s ‘duty of assistance’ does not include international distributive justice in the sense of following the difference principle on an international level without a cutoff point (see Rawls 1999, pp. 105-120), and he does not specifically address issues of moral psychology or motivation concerning international or transnational cases.

[10] Note, however, that insofar as one’s ’self’ is within the ‘control of one’s will’, Nussbaum’s definition of love as ‘intense attachments to things outside the control of our will’ will exclude self-love from the conceptual framework of love. I do not take it, however, that Nussbaum’s notion of ‘things’ in her definition would imply a (Kantian) distinction of ‘things’ and ‘persons’, rather, I take it that by ‘thing’ she merely means ‘anything’.

[11] In some of her earlier texts Nussbaum seemed to advocate a more cosmopolitan ‘love of humanity’ (see Nussbaum 1997; 2002a, p. 15; see also Nussbaum 2004, p. 18). In 2008, however, she reports that her ‘ideas [concerning cosmopolitanism] have changed’ (Nussbaum 2008, p. 79; see also 2011a, p. 92; 2011b; 2013b, pp. 473-474), leading her to a rejection of (Stoic) cosmopolitanism. Here, I focus on her most recent patriotic view, expressed in Political Emotions. For discussion concerning the changes in Nussbaum’s position, see Papastephanou (2013).

[12] For the miser, every penny is ‘worth consideration’.

[13] Note again that I assume, as I have assumed throughout this article following both Rawls and Nussbaum, that there is an intricate interplay between institutional policies and the moral psychologies of individuals who participate in the decision-making processes concerning these institutional policies.

[14] A notion closely connected to ‘humanity’ is that of ‘dignity’ – an intrinsic worth without a price. Whereas for Kant the necessary condition of dignity appears to be rationality (see e.g. AA 4: 434), for Nussbaum human dignity is a special case of animal dignity (see e.g. Nussbaum 2006, p. 70).

[15] For Kant’s justification of the concept of an end that is also a duty, see The Metaphysics of Morals (AA 6: 385).

[16] See e.g. Fahmy (2010).

[17] Note that Rawls’s discussions of his duty of mutual aid make explicit reference to the passages from Kant that I have cited above (see Rawls 1971, p. 338; 1996, pp. 104-105). In the context of the present article, the main differences between Rawls’s duty of mutual aid and Kant’s duty of love are, that Rawls’s duty of mutual aid is not a duty of love, and he reserves the notion of love of mankind exclusively to cases of supererogation, where as for Kant the duty is consistently conceptualized in terms of love, and there is no notion of supererogation visible in Kant’s framework. My moral psychological notion of love of human beings as an attitude related to the duty of benevolence and involving affective concern for others makes it clear that this notion cannot be identified with Rawls’s duty of mutual aid, as no affective concern for others beyond one’s sense of justice is necessarily inherent in Rawls’s duty of mutual aid. Rawls certainly does not argue that universal love of human beings would be required for an adequate global application of the duty of mutual aid (this kind of thought is beyond or contradicts with his framework).

[18] Note that Kant’s own overall doctrine of moral motivation is highly complex, if not somewhat ambiguous. The grounding moral philosophical works from his mature period, The Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals (1785), and the Critique of Practical Reason (1788) clearly hold that respect for the moral law is the proper, and sufficient incentive for moral action. The later Metaphysics of Morals (1797), however, adds to the motivational framework certain natural, sensory-aesthetic, yet moral ‘predispositions’, which belong necessarily to the constitution of the human being, and which are subjectively necessary for the human being to be bound by duty. One of these ‘aesthetic predispositions’ is ‘love of human beings’ conceived in terms of a subjectively fundamental sensation (see AA 6: 399-402). Further, the mature Kant appears to hold that various positive emotions, such as feelings of love and sympathy, can facilitate moral action in cases where the scope of the duty in question is wide and imperfect, or in other words, in cases where it is not clear how much we should be doing, for instance to promote the happiness of others. In ‘The End of All Things’ (1794) Kant asserts that without love our moral actions will be scanty, and we will tend to evade what duty commands: ‘[L]ove […] is an indispensable complement to the imperfection of human nature’ (AA 8: 338).

[19] Note again that this kind of delight in the well-being of others is not essential for Rawls’s duty of mutual aid.

[20] Kant’s usage of the term ’love of one’s neighbour’ shows his affiliation, or at least engagement with the Christian religion. From a political perspective, it might be better to replace the phrase ‘love of one’s neighbour’ in the above quotation with ‘love of other human beings’. My own aim is certainly not to claim that Christianity would be in any way a privileged religion when it comes to formulating ethico-political maxims of love. It is also not my aim here to discuss the complicated relationships between particular religions and political love.

[21] Kant connects the notion of being a friend of human beings to his ideal of the universal ethical community, which he understands as essentially involving a gradual reworking of the Christian religion (see AA 6: 473; cf. 6: 97-102; 6: 124-132). As already noted (see fn. 20), I do not support Kant’s privileging of the Christian religion when thinking about the question of a global ethical community, nor do I endorse his (traditional) masculinist vocabulary which identifies ‘friends of human beings’ as ‘brothers’ (AA 6: 473).

[22] Another study by Faulkner (2017b) indicates that the assumptions related to so called ‘thick cosmopolitanism’ may be incorrect. ‘Thick cosmopolitanism’ holds speculatively that ‘causal responsibility’ for harm provides a ‘thicker connection’ to humanity or global out-groups than ‘empathy’ (Dobson 2006, p. 172), and the central motivational strategy of ‘thick cosmopolitanism’ for inducing global concern has been to appeal to richer nations’ citizens’ responsibility and guilt (see Dobson 2006; cf. Lenard 2010). Faulkner’s study suggests that while the feeling of guilt for causing harm can be motivationally effective, in the global case the feelings of guilt also induce ‘dehumanization’ of the outgroup, which can indirectly nullify the motivational effect of guilt (Faulkner 2017b; see also Cameron 2017).

[23] For a criticism of White’s overall teleological view of humanity, which criticism also problematizes the status of the overview effect as merely ‘natural’, see Bimm (2014).

[24] In the study, ‘empathy’ was operationalized as congruent affection: feeling good when something good happens to another member of a group, and feeling bad when something bad happens to them (Bruneau et al. 2017, p. 941fn.1).

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