Kant and the Problem of Practical Judgment

Dissertation, New School for Social Research (2000)

Shawn Kaplan
Adelphi University
This project develops an underlying problem within Kant's practical works concerning the application of the categorical imperative. While it is often thought that Kant does not consider the need to bridge the gap between an abstract, universal, moral law and an agent's proposed maxims as problematic, he repeatedly offers strategies for overcoming exactly such a problem. This study undertakes a detailed examination of three distinct strategies in Kant's works that either have been or could be used in the attempt to overcome this problem of practical judgment. The first two strategies are explicitly presented by Kant in the Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals and the Critique of Practical Reason respectively. Both Kant's attempt to provide greater determinacy to the moral law in the Groundwork and his introduction of a symbolic representation to mediate between reason's a priori principle and our proposed maxims in the Critique of Practical Reason are found to be fragmentary and incomplete solutions to the problem of applying the moral law. The third strategy is developed from the positive contributions of the previous two in conjunction with the implicit possibilities excavated from Kant's account of reflective, teleological judgment in the Critique of Judgment. What emerges is a rich account of moral deliberation and judgment that does not simply mimic theoretical judgment. Instead, a reflective procedure of practical judgment is suggested as an auxiliary to the more orthodox and formal model of Kantian deliberation
Keywords Philosophy
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