Kant's Moral Idealism: The Logical Basis and Metaphysical Origin of the Ideas of Community and Autonomy

Dissertation, University of Pennsylvania (2003)

Authors
Lucas Thorpe
Bogazici University
Abstract
This thesis examines the theoretical foundations of Kant's moral philosophy. I argue that Kant's moral ideal of a kingdom of ends is to be identified with the theoretical idea of a community, and that this idea can be traced back to the category of community introduced in his table of categories. In particular I argue that, for the mature Kant, the only application of the theoretical idea of community is the moral idea of a kingdom of ends, the only way we can conceive of a kingdom of ends is as a political community governed by juridical laws, and the only way we can conceive of a member of a community is as an autonomous agent. To support my interpretation I show how an understanding of Kant's theoretical work on community and interaction helps us understand the motivation behind the theory of property Kant offers in the Metaphysics of Morals. In addition, I trace the development of Kant's ethics back to his reading of Swedenborg in the early 1760s
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