AbstractThe aim of this paper is to examine the role of sympathy in Kant’s moral theory, in order to determine whether there is any essential change from the Groundwork to works of the 1790’s (Doctrine of Virtue and the Anthropology).1 The point of departure is the distinction between motive (the objective ground) and incentive (the subjective ground) of an action. I attempt to identify what constitutes a moral motive and a moral incentive in the philanthropist example of the Groundwork, and argue that the only moral incentive is the respect for moral law. The mere presence of sympathy, however, will not make an action morally unworthy, as long as this feeling is not what drives the agent to perform benevolent actions. The second part of the paper provides an account of sympathy in the Doctrine of Virtue. In the later works, Kant accepts that sympathy can be the incentive for moral action that is performed with the motive of duty, as long as it is useful to the accomplishment of the duty of humanity. I show that the duty of humanity plays the role of an intermediate principle that enables us to decide the right action in a particular case. Moreover, it works as a procedure to encourage good sympathetic feelings, which promote others’ happiness, and to discourage feelings that lead to nothing but a shared state of pain. The third part of this essay asks whether Kant’s moral account of sympathy is a coherent one, or whether there is an important turning point in the texts of the late 1790’s.