Jahrbuch für Recht Und Ethik 8:437-531 (2000)
The contribution starts with a concise account of Kant's moral philosophy. It is shown that a moral will is necessarily an autonomous will and that only the "formal" character of the moral law can establish its universal validity. Some widespread misunderstandings are discussed, especially with regard to the alleged emptiness of the moral law; the relationship between duty and inclination; the role of natural incentives in a moral will; and the necessary objects of such a will. This leads to the idea of the highest good as the objective final end and duty of a finite rational being. Again, typical misunderstandings are dealt with: the reproach of eudaimonism, and heteronomy, and the role of the highest good as incentive; and an alleged inconsistency between Analytic and Dialectic of the Second Critique. In the then following discussion of Kant's doctrine of the postulates and his philosophy of religion, it is shown that religion is totally dependent on morality as philosophy of religion is on moral philosophy; that a belief in God is required neither for the validity of the moral law nor for the obedience to it; that the so-called moral proof is not a proof of God's existence, but only of the practical necessity of its assumption; and that the idea of the highest good refers throughout exclusively to another world. The last chapter first gives a concise account of Kant's teleological philosophy of history and then comes to the result of the whole inquiry: that there is a principle difference between philosophy of religion and philosophy of history which makes them not only independent of each other, but also keeps them in well distinguished fields. The philosophy of religion presupposes moral philosophy. Its main function is to determine what the idea of God morally means to man. Its achievement is to yield a reason of belief for the hope that the realization of the highest moral good is possible and that therefore the moral life of man is not necessarily pointless, as long as he fulfills his respective duty. It has meaning only for the one who is conscious of being subject to the moral law and ready to act accordingly. The philosophy of history on the other hand presupposes especially the doctrine of right. Its main function is to determine what the future of mankind on earth politically means to man. Its achievement is to yield empirical reasons for the hope that the realization of the highest political good is possible and that therefore the political life of man is not necessarily pointless, as long as he fulfills his respective duty. It has meaning only for the one who is conscious of being subject to the law of right and ready to act accordingly, although, it is true, the attainment of the historical aim itself is possible even by acting from purely prudential reasons
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