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Profile: Paul Formosa (Macquarie University)
  1. Paul Formosa & Catriona Mackenzie (forthcoming). Nussbaum, Kant, and the Capabilities Approach to Dignity. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice:1-18.
    The concept of dignity plays a foundational role in the more recent versions of Martha Nussbaum’s capabilities theory. However, despite its centrality to her theory, Nussbaum’s conception of dignity remains under-theorised. In this paper we critically examine the role that dignity plays in Nussbaum’s theory by, first, developing an account of the concept of dignity and introducing a distinction between two types of dignity, status dignity and achievement dignity. Next, drawing on this account, we analyse Nussbaum’s conception of dignity and (...)
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  2. Paul Formosa (2014). Dignity and Respect: How to Apply Kant's Formula of Humanity. Philosophical Forum 45 (1):49-68.
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  3. Paul Formosa, Avery Goldman & Tatiana Patrone (eds.) (2014). Politics and Teleology in Kant. University of Wales Press.
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  4. Paul Formosa (2013). Evils, Wrongs and Dignity: How to Test a Theory of Evil. [REVIEW] Journal of Value Inquiry 47 (3):235-253.
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  5. Paul Formosa (2013). Is Kant a Moral Constructivist or a Moral Realist? European Journal of Philosophy 21 (2):170-196.
    : The dominant interpretation of Kant as a moral constructivist has recently come under sustained philosophical attack by those defending a moral realist reading of Kant. In light of this, should we read Kant as endorsing moral constructivism or moral realism? In answering this question we encounter disagreement in regard to two key independence claims. First, the independence of the value of persons from the moral law (an independence that is rejected) and second, the independence of the content and authority (...)
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  6. Paul Formosa (2013). Kant's Conception of Personal Autonomy. Journal of Social Philosophy 44 (3):193-212.
  7. Paul Formosa (2013). The Role of Vulnerability in Kantian Ethics. In Catriona Mackenzie, Wendy Rogers & Susan Dodds (eds.), Vulnerability: New Essays in Ethics and Feminist Philosophy. Oup Usa. 88.
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  8. Paul Formosa (2011). A Life Without Affects and Passions: Kant on the Duty of Apathy. Parrhesia 13:96-111.
  9. Paul Formosa (2011). Discipline and Autonomy: The Kantian Link Between Education and Morality. In Klas Roth & Chris Surprenant (eds.), Kant and Education: Interpretations and Commentary. Routledge.
    In this paper I argue that Kant develops, in a number of texts, a detailed three stage theory of moral development which resembles the contemporary accounts of moral development defended by Lawrence Kohlberg and John Rawls. The first stage in this process is that of physical education and disciplining, followed by cultivating and civilising, with a third and final stage of moralising. The outcome of this process of moral development is a fully autonomous person. However, Kant’s account of moral development (...)
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  10. Paul Formosa (2011). From Discipline to Autonomy: Kant's Theory of Moral Development. In Klas Roth & Chris W. Surprenant (eds.), Kant and Education: Interpretations and Commentary. Routledge. 163--176.
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  11. Paul Formosa (2011). Review: Anderson-Gold & Muchnik, Kant's Anatomy of Evil. [REVIEW] Kantian Review 16 (2):150-56.
  12. Paul Formosa (2011). Kant on the Highest Moral-Physical Good: The Social Aspect of Kant's Moral Philosophy. Kantian Review 15 (1):1-36.
    Kant identifies the “highest moral-physical good” as that combination of “good living” and “true humanity” which best harmonises in a “good meal in good company”. Why does Kant privilege the dinner party in this way? By examining Kant’s accounts of enlightenment, cosmopolitanism, love and respect, and gratitude and friendship, the answer to this question becomes clear. Kant’s moral ideal is that of an enlightened and just cosmopolitan human being who feels and acts with respect and love for all persons and (...)
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  13. Paul Formosa (2011). Review: Anderson-Gold & Muchnik (Eds), Kant's Anatomy of Evil. [REVIEW] Kantian Review 16 (1):150-156.
  14. Paul Formosa (2010). Thinking, Conscience and Acting in the Face of Mass Evil. In Andrew Schaap, Danielle Celermajer & Vrasidas Karalis (eds.), Power, Judgement and Political Evil: In Conversation with Hannah Arendt. Ashgate.
    If there is one lesson that Hannah Arendt drew from her encounter with Adolf Eichmann in Jerusalem it was that the moral and political dangers of thoughtlessness had been grossly underestimated. But while thoughtlessness clearly “has its perils”, (LMT 177) as the example of Eichmann illustrates, thoughtfulness has its own problems, as the example of Heidegger illustrates. In the course of her 1964 interview with Günter Gaus, Arendt recalls her distaste for “intellectual business” that arose from witnessing the widespread and (...)
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  15. Paul Formosa (2009). Kant on the Limits of Human Evil. Journal of Philosophical Research 34:189-214.
    Kant has often been accused of being far too “optimistic” when it comes to the extremes of evil that humans can perpetrate upon one another. In particular, Kant’s supposed claim that humans cannot choose evil qua evil has struck many people as simply false. Another problem for Kant, or perhaps the same problem in another guise, is his supposed claim that all evil is done for the sake of self-love. While self-love might be a plausible way to explain some instances (...)
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  16. Paul Formosa (2009). Patriotism: Philosophical and Political Perspectives. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 87 (1):175 – 176.
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  17. Paul Formosa (2009). The Idea of Evil. [REVIEW] Kantian Review 14 (1):129-36.
  18. Paul Formosa (2009). Review: Dews, The Idea of Evil. [REVIEW] Kantian Review 14 (1):129-136.
  19. Paul Formosa (2009). Thinking, Willing, and Judging. Crossroads 4 (1):53-64.
    In this paper I examine Max Deutscher’s recent accounts of thinking, willing and judging, derived from his reading of Hannah Arendt’s 'The Life of the Mind', as set out in his book 'Judgment After Arendt'. Against Deutscher I argue that thinking does not presuppose thoughtfulness, that being willing is compatible with willing reluctantly, and that actor and spectator judgments are distinct types of judgments.
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  20. Paul Formosa (2008). A Conception of Evil. Journal of Value Inquiry 42 (2):217-239.
    There are a number of different senses of the term “evil.” We examine in this paper the term “evil” when it is used to say things such as: “what Hitler did was not merely wrong, it was evil”, and “Hitler was not merely a bad person, he was an evil person”. Failing to keep a promise or telling a white lie may be morally wrong, but unlike genocide or sadistic torture, it is not evil in this sense. In this paper (...)
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  21. Paul Formosa (2008). “All Politics Must Bend its Knee Before Right”: Kant on the Relation of Morals to Politics. Social Theory and Practice 34 (2):157-181.
    Kant argues that morals should not only constrain politics, but that morals and politics properly understood cannot conflict. Such an uncompromising stance on the relation of morals to politics has been branded unrealistic and even politically irresponsible. While justice can afford to be blind, politics must keep its eyes wide open. In response to this charge I argue that Kant’s position on the relation of morals to politics is both morally uncompromising and yet politically flexible, both principled and practical. Kantian (...)
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  22. Paul Formosa (2008). The Problems with Evil. Contemporary Political Theory 7 (4):395-415.
    The concept of evil has been an unpopular one in many recent Western political and ethical discourses. One way to justify this neglect is by pointing to the many problemswiththe concept of evil. The standard grievances brought against the very concept of evil include: that it has no proper place in secular political and ethical discourses; that it is a demonizing term of hatred that leads to violence; that it is necessarily linked with outdated notions of body and sexuality; and (...)
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  23. Paul Formosa (2007). Is Radical Evil Banal? Is Banal Evil Radical? Philosophy and Social Criticism 33 (6):717-735.
    There has been much recent debate concerning how Hannah Arendt's concepts of radical evil and the banality of evil `fit together', if at all. I argue that the first of these concepts deals with a certain type of evil, in particular the evil that occurred in the Nazi death camps. The second deals with a certain type of perpetrator of evil, in particular the banal `nobody', Eichmann. As such, bar a localized incompatibility in regard to Arendt's early account of the (...)
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  24. Paul Formosa (2007). Kant on the Radical Evil of Human Nature. Philosophical Forum 38 (3):221–245.
    In ‘Religion within the Boundaries of Mere Reason’ Kant presents his thesis that human nature is ‘radically evil’. To be radically evil is to have a propensity toward moral frailty, impurity and even perversity. Kant claims that all humans are ‘by nature’ radically evil. By presenting counter-examples of moral saints, I argue that not all humans are morally corrupt, even if most are. Even so, the possibility of moral failure is central to what makes us human.
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  25. Paul Formosa (2007). Saying the Unsayable: Wittgenstein's Early Ethical Thought. Sorites 19:74-87.
    In this paper I present an account of Wittgenstein’s ethics that follows from a so-called ‘metaphysical’ reading of the Tractatus. I argue Wittgenstein forwards two distinct theses. Negatively he claims that there can be no ethical propositions. Positively he claims that the ethical good, or good in-itself, is the rewarding happy life. The happy life involves living in perfect contented harmony with the world, however it is, because how the world is, is a manifestation of God’s will. Given the negative (...)
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  26. Paul Formosa (2007). Understanding Evil Acts. Human Studies 30 (2):57 - 77.
    Evil acts strike us, by their very nature, as not only horrifying and reprehensible, but also as deeply puzzling. No doubt for reasons like this, evil has often been seen as mysterious, demonic and beyond our human powers of understanding. The question I examine in this paper is whether or not we can (or would want to) overcome this puzzlement in the face of evil acts. I shall argue that we ought want to (in all cases) and can (in at (...)
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  27. Paul Formosa (2006). Moral Responsibility for Banal Evil. Journal of Social Philosophy 37 (4):501–520.
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