Can Kant Have an Account of Moral Education?

Journal of Philosophy of Education 43 (4):471-484 (2009)
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Abstract

There is an apparent tension between Immanuel Kant’s model of moral agency and his often-neglected philosophy of moral education. On the one hand, Kant’s account of moral knowledge and decision-making seems to be one that can be self-taught. Kant’s famous categorical imperative and related ‘fact of reason’ argument suggest that we learn the content and application of the moral law on our own. On the other hand, Kant has a sophisticated and detailed account of moral education that goes well beyond the kind of education a person would receive in the course of ordinary childhood experience. The task of this paper will be to reconcile these seemingly conflicting claims. Ultimately, I argue, Kant’s philosophy of education makes sense as a part of his moral theory if we look not only at individual moral decisions, but also at the goals or ends that these moral decisions are intended to achieve. In Kant’s case, this end is what he calls the highest good, and, I argue, the most coherent account of the highest good is a kind of ethical community and end of history, similar to the Groundwork’s realm of ends. Seen as a tool to bring about and sustain such a community, Kant’s philosophy of moral education exists as a coherent and important part of his moral philosophy.

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Kate Moran
Brandeis University

Citations of this work

Moral Education and Transcendental Idealism.Joe Saunders & Martin Sticker - 2020 - Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie 102 (4):646-673.
Kant on wonder as the motive to learn.Melissa Zinkin - 2021 - Journal of Philosophy of Education 55 (6):921-934.
Kant on education and improvement: Themes and problems.Martin Sticker & David Bakhurst - 2021 - Journal of Philosophy of Education 55 (6):909-920.
From Discipline to Autonomy: Kant's Theory of Moral Development.Paul Formosa - 2011 - In Klas Roth & Chris W. Surprenant (eds.), Kant and Education: Interpretations and Commentary. New York: Routledge. pp. 163--176.
The Role of Feelings in Kant's Account of Moral Education.Alix Cohen - 2016 - Journal of Philosophy of Education 50 (4):511-523.

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References found in this work

Lectures on the History of Moral Philosophy.John Rawls & Barbara Herman - 2002 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 64 (1):178-179.
Kant: A Biography.Manfred Kuehn - 2004 - Philosophical Quarterly 54 (216):476-479.

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