In order for an action to have moral worth, it must be done from the motive of duty.

Would Robin Hood be ethical, assuming that he has no other intent only acted out of the duty to help others, and not out of inclination that would give him any sense of gratification?

  • In the Metaphysics of Morals it is made quite clear that even if the state in his actions and laws is immoral, political opposition is the way to go. He condemns vigilante behaviour in general.
    – Philip Klöcking
    Commented Mar 24, 2018 at 10:23

1 Answer 1


Kant's categorical imperative states

Act only according to that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law

"Acting out of the duty to help others" without any other intent satisfies Kant's maxim. Hence it is ethical in the Kantian sense.

Aside: I'm no competent to make out whether the above maxim was actually the intent of Robin Hood as portrayed by the English folklore.

  • 1
    "Acting out of the duty to help others" without asking if they are interested in getting the help or consulting them about the methods is not something one can reasonably will to universalize. In any case, Kant's positions are far too complex to be extracted out of his slogany formulas, see e.g. virmaior's answer to Is Kant's ethical theory adequate to the complexities of universalisation?
    – Conifold
    Commented Mar 26, 2018 at 0:45
  • 1
    @Conifold I prefer to stay away from adding casuistry to general principles. I have confidence in identifying in a concrete situation what has to be done or has to be omitted to help the person in question. - I did not get the point in virmaior's answer you refer to. Possibly you could state a separate answer to the OP's question. Then we can better discuss the issue.
    – Jo Wehler
    Commented Mar 26, 2018 at 9:15

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