Michelle Kosch
Cornell University
J.G. Fichte’s 1798 System of Ethics is seldom read, despite the fact that it remains, after more than two centuries, one of the most original and insightful efforts at a systematic normative ethical theory on Kantian foundations. Part of the reason for its obscurity lies in the perceived implausibility of Fichte’s account of practical deliberation and of the authority of individual conscience. The view typically attributed to Fichte is a conjunction of four claims: that moral deliberation consists entirely in consultation of one’s conscience; that conscience is a faculty that gives immediate epistemic access to substantive moral truths; that conformity with the verdict of conscience is the sole criterion of the moral worth of actions; and that an individual’s conscientious decision is therefore morally incorrigible. This set of views is indeed implausible; but Fichte in fact held none of them. Hegel was the first to attribute them to him and, incredibly, Hegel’s has remained for 200 years the dominant interpretation, even among scholars of Fichte. In this paper I explain how Fichte actually thought about practical deliberation and the role of conscience, and diagnose the sources of appeal of the Hegelian interpretation.
Keywords Fichte  conscience
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Fichte on Conscience.Owen Ware - 2017 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 95 (2):376-394.
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