Kant, Hegel, and Determining Our Duties

Hegel identified in Kant’s practical philosophy precisely the powerful kind of constructivism about the identification and justification of norms that has recently been explicated by Onora O’Neill. If so (I have argued elsewhere this is so), what then did Hegel contribute to practical philosophy? This essay partly answers this question by examining Kant’s and Hegel’s views of the aim and structure of practical philosophy, and what is required to determine specific duties. This theme is specified by examining these issues: two oversights in Kant’s justification of rights to possession (§2), the role of philosophical anthropology in Kant’s universalization tests (§3), the roles of social institutions in specifying our ethical obligations (§4), Kant’s under-developed view of government (§5), and Hegel’s claim that, in contrast to Kant’s Rechtslehre, his Rechtsphilosophie provides an „immanent“ doctrine of duties (§6). I argue that Hegel attempted to respond to his own criticisms of Kant’s Categorical Imperative, and in doing so, Hegel contributed to practical philosophy in ways that Kantians and other moral, social and legal philosophers should consider seriously.
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