In this essay, we examine the grounds, nature and content, status, acquisition and role, and justification of gratitude in Kant's ethical system, making use of student notes from Kant's lectures on ethics. We are especially interested in questions about the significance of gratitude in Kant's ethics. We examine Kant's claim that gratitude is a sacred duty, because it cannot be discharged, and explain how this claim is consistent with his insistence that "ought" implies "can." We argue that for Kant a proper understanding of self-esteem is importantly related to, if not necessary for, possession of the virtue of gratitude.
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