Kant's consistency regarding the regime change in France

Philosophy and Social Criticism 32 (4):443-460 (2006)
Can it be consistent to be interested, for moral reasons, in the fact that uninvolved spectators of a regime change are enthusiastic about that change, when the latter is carried out according to means considered immoral or unjust? Yes. In ‘An Old Question Raised Again’ ( The Conflict of the Faculties , 1798), Kant demonstrates a morally based interest in disinterested spectators’ expressions (aesthetic judgments) of enthusiasm for the idea of a republican form of government. This interest is puzzling. Kant's universalizability test supposedly forbids the violent revolutionary means taken to establish the republican constitution. How can the Kantian, if consistent, take an interest in expressions of enthusiasm elicited by these immoral events? In addition to endorsing the familiar means/ends distinction, this article provides a new answer to this question by examining the enthusiasm in which Kant takes an interest: it is a pure aesthetic judgment of enthusiasm, made by a disinterested, impartial spectator. Key Words: aesthetic judgment • enthusiasm • idea • interest • Immanuel Kant • republic • spectator.
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