Abstract In Understanding Moral Obligation: Kant, Hegel, Kierkegaard, Robert Stern argues that Hegel has a social command view of obligation. On this view, there is an element of social command or social sanction that must be added to a judgment of the good in order to bring about an obligation. I argue to the contrary that Hegel's conception of conscience, and thus the individual's role in obligation, is more central to his account than the social dimension. While agreeing with Stern (...) that Hegel's conception of Sittlichkeit does preserve a role for obligation, and that the social plays an important part in that account, I argue that there is no extra social component that converts the morally good into obligation. Rather, Hegel's conception of Sittlichkeit as the ?living good? means that judgments of the moral facts are simultaneously judgments of obligation. (shrink)
This book provides a new interpretation of the ethical theory of G.W.F. Hegel. The aim is not only to give a new interpretation for specialists in German Idealism, but also to provide an analysis that makes Hegel's ethics accessible for all scholars working in ethical and political philosophy. While Hegel's political philosophy has received a good deal of attention in the literature, the core of his ethics has eluded careful exposition, in large part because it is contained in his claims (...) about conscience. This book shows that, contrary to accepted wisdom, conscience is the central concept for understanding Hegel's view of practical reason and therefore for understanding his ethics as a whole. The argument combines careful exegesis of key passages in Hegel's texts with detailed treatments of problems in contemporary ethics and reconstructions of Hegel's answers to those problems. The main goals are to render comprehensible Hegel's notoriously difficult texts by framing arguments with debates in contemporary ethics, and to show that Hegel still has much to teach us about the issues that matter to us most. Central topics covered in the book are the connection of self-consciousness and agency, the relation of motivating and justifying reasons, moral deliberation and the holism of moral reasoning, mutual recognition, and the rationality of social institutions. (shrink)
In this response I first address the criticisms of omission by discussing some of the elements of the original project that were excluded in the final version (section 1). In section 2 I respond to Howard’s criticism that I assume too much transparency in conscience. In section 3 I discuss the problem of evil and the transition in the Phenomenology of Spirit from conscience to religion. I focus here especially on the distinction between Objective and Absolute Spirit, and on how (...) that distinction plays out differently in the Phenomenology and the Philosophy of Right. In section 4 I take up the specifically political issues of conscience, responding to Speight’s suggestion that conscience should have a transformative role and to De Nys’s query about the State’s relationship to dissenting moral and religious views. Finally, in section 5 I take up the issues of whether I and Hegel do justice to the range of uses of conscience and whether or not the Hegelian view is too optimistic about modernity. (shrink)
This essay investigates the themes of autonomy and conscience in Hegel’s earliest writings. Though these themes play a large role in Hegel’s mature philosophy, they are largely absent from the writings in his Frankfurt and Jena periods before the publication of the Phenomenology of Spirit. The essay argues that essential elements of the mature position on autonomy and conscience can already be found in the treatments in the early writings of moral motivation, moral conflict, formal freedom, and intersubjectivity.
Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit, first published in 1807, is a work with few equals in systematic integrity, philosophical originality and historical influence. This collection of newly-commissioned essays, contributed by leading Hegel scholars, examines all aspects of the work, from its argumentative strategies to its continuing relevance to philosophical debates. The collection combines close analysis with wide-ranging coverage of the text, and also traces connections with debates extending beyond Hegel scholarship, including issues in the philosophy of language, philosophy of mind, philosophy (...) of action, ethics, and philosophy of religion. In showing clearly that we have not yet exhausted the Phenomenology's insights, it demonstrates the need for contemporary philosophers to engage with Hegel. (shrink)