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Journal of Philosophical Research

Volume 40, 2015

Mark D. White
Pages 1-5
DOI: 10.5840/jpr2015101927

A Modest Comment on McMullin
A Kantian Account of Modesty

In “A Modest Proposal: Accounting for the Virtuousness of Modesty,” Irene McMullin characterizes the modest person as striking a delicate balance between accurate self-assessment and sensitivity to the feelings of others. She criticizes ‘egalitarian’ understandings of this process as unrealistically demanding, and instead proposes an account based on Sartrean facticity and self-awareness. In this brief comment, I defend the egalitarian accounts, arguing for a specifically Kantian explanation of modesty that combines the best of both the egalitarian and Sartrean views, and is based on basic Kantian concepts of dignity and autonomy. On this account, the modest person honestly assesses her own successes according to her autonomously determined standards, yet exhibits modesty to others out of the recognition of the equal worth and dignity of all persons.