Kant begins his Lectures on Pedagogy by stating, “[t]he human being is the only creature that must be educated” (Kant, 2007, 9:441), and he argues that it is through education that we can transform our initial “animal nature into human nature” (ibid. 2007, 9:441). Kant understands education as involving an ordered process of care, discipline, instruction and formation through enculturating, civilizing and moralizing (Formosa 2011). Further, Kant envisages that we should pursue as a species the “moral perfection” that is the (...) “final destiny of the human race” through education (Collins, 1997, 27:470; see Dean, 2014). However, to engage in this pursuit Kant believes that, through education and social change, we have to regulate our “animal nature” and counter the moral corruption of our species, which he calls the “radical innate evil in human nature (not any the less brought upon us by ourselves)” (Kant, 1998, 6:32). If humanity is to pursue its final destiny of moral perfection, then education will need to respond responsibly to the propensity to evil that is deeply rooted in us as finite and imperfect rational beings living in imperfect and at times even in morally corrupted social conditions. This paper outlines some of the relevant issues. (shrink)
This special issue of Games and Culture focuses on the intersection between video games and ethics. This introduction briefly sets out the key research questions in the research field and identifies trends in the articles included in this special issue.
According to cognitive psychologists, moral decision-making is a dual-process phenomenon involving two types of cognitive processes: explicit reasoning and implicit intuition. Moral development involves training and integrating both types of cognitive processes through a mix of instruction, practice, and reflection. Serious games are an ideal platform for this kind of moral training, as they provide safe spaces for exploring difficult moral problems and practicing the skills necessary to resolve them. In this article, we present Morality Play, a model for the (...) design of serious games for ethical expertise development based on the Integrative Ethical Education framework from moral psychology and the Lens of the Toy model for serious game design. (shrink)
The concept of dignity plays a foundational role in the more recent versions of Martha Nussbaum’s capabilities theory. However, despite its centrality to her theory, Nussbaum’s conception of dignity remains under-theorised. In this paper we critically examine the role that dignity plays in Nussbaum’s theory by, first, developing an account of the concept of dignity and introducing a distinction between two types of dignity, status dignity and achievement dignity. Next, drawing on this account, we analyse Nussbaum’s conception of dignity and (...) contrast it with Kant’s conception of dignity. On the basis of this comparison between Nussbaum and Kant, we highlight tensions between Nussbaum’s Aristotelianism, which is central to her conception of dignity, and her commitment to political liberalism. This leads us to conclude that Nussbaum’s claim that her conception of dignity is only a partial political conception is implausible and that her conception of dignity seems to commit her to a satisficing form of perfectionist liberalism. (shrink)
Historically the focus of moral decision-making in games has been narrow, mostly confined to challenges of moral judgement (deciding right and wrong). In this paper, we look to moral psychology to get a broader view of the skills involved in ethical behaviour and how these skills can be employed in games. Following the Four Component Model of Rest and colleagues, we identify four “lenses” – perspectives for considering moral gameplay in terms of focus, sensitivity, judgement and action – and describe (...) the design problems raised by each. To conclude, we analyse two recent games, The Walking Dead and Papers, Please, and show how the lenses give us insight into important design differences between these games. (shrink)
In ‘Religion within the Boundaries of Mere Reason’ Kant presents his thesis that human nature is ‘radically evil’. To be radically evil is to have a propensity toward moral frailty, impurity and even perversity. Kant claims that all humans are ‘by nature’ radically evil. By presenting counter-examples of moral saints, I argue that not all humans are morally corrupt, even if most are. Even so, the possibility of moral failure is central to what makes us human.
The dominant interpretation of Kant as a moral constructivist has recently come under sustained philosophical attack by those defending a moral realist reading of Kant. In light of this, should we read Kant as endorsing moral constructivism or moral realism? In answering this question we encounter disagreement in regard to two key independence claims. First, the independence of the value of persons from the moral law (an independence that is rejected) and second, the independence of the content and authority of (...) the moral law from actual acts of willing on behalf of those bound by that law (an independence that is upheld). The resulting position, which is called not ‘all the way down’ constructivism, is attributed to Kant. (shrink)
There are a number of different senses of the term “evil.” We examine in this paper the term “evil” when it is used to say things such as: “what Hitler did was not merely wrong, it was evil”, and “Hitler was not merely a bad person, he was an evil person”. Failing to keep a promise or telling a white lie may be morally wrong, but unlike genocide or sadistic torture, it is not evil in this sense. In this paper (...) we analyze the specific moral difference between “evil” and “mere wrongdoing”. In so doing we shall defend a specific conception of what acts and which persons should count as evil. On the view defended in this paper it is a necessary feature of an evil act that the victim of that act suffer what would at least normally be a life-wrecking or life-ending harm. (shrink)
Kant’s Formula of Humanity (FH) is considered by many, Kant included, to be the most intuitively appealing formulation of the categorical imperative. FH tells us that to treat persons with dignity and respect we must always treat them as ends in themselves and never as mere means. One set of issues raised by FH revolves around how FH is to be justified or grounded and how it relates to the other formulations of the categorical imperative. This set of issues, though (...) important, is not our focus here. Instead, we shall focus on a different set of issues: how do we apply or use this formula in practice, that is, how does this principle work as a moral guide to what duties and obligations we have in particular cases? This paper will seek to answer that question by defending an interpretation and rational reconstruction of FH in terms of two subsidiary principles, the Mere Means Principle (MMP), which grounds perfect duties, and the Ends in Themselves Principle (ETP), which grounds imperfect duties. These two principles will then be applied to a number of examples to illustrate how they work. (shrink)
Historically the focus of moral decision-making in games has been narrow, mostly confined to challenges of moral judgement (deciding right and wrong). In this paper, we look to moral psychology to get a broader view of the skills involved in ethical behaviour and how they may be employed in games. Following the Four Component Model of Rest and colleagues, we identify four “lenses” – perspectives for considering moral gameplay in terms of focus, sensitivity, judgement and action – and describe the (...) design problems raised by each. To conclude, we analyse two recent games, The Walking Dead and Papers, Please, and show how the lenses give us insight into important design differences between them. (shrink)
For Kant, we cannot understand how to approach moral education without confronting the radical evil of humanity. But if we start out, as Kant thinks we do, from a morally corrupt state, how can we make moral progress? In response, I explore in this paper Kant’s gradualist and revolutionary accounts of moral progress. These differing accounts of progress raise two key questions in the literature: are these accounts compatible and which type of progress comes first? Against other views in the (...) literature, I argue that gradual progress through a change of mores must come first and can gradually lead toward, as its ideal endpoint, a revolution in our disposition and the overthrowing of our radical evil. This has important implications for moral pedagogy. (shrink)
Evil acts strike us, by their very nature, as not only horrifying and reprehensible, but also as deeply puzzling. No doubt for reasons like this, evil has often been seen as mysterious, demonic and beyond our human powers of understanding. The question I examine in this paper is whether or not we can (or would want to) overcome this puzzlement in the face of evil acts. I shall argue that we ought want to (in all cases) and can (in at (...) least most cases) come to understand why people perpetrate evil acts. This is an appealing conclusion as it allows us to take practical steps to both minimise future occurrences of evil and come to terms with its past abominations. (shrink)
Does the fact that humans are vulnerable, needy and dependent beings play an important role in Kantian ethics? It is sometimes claimed that it cannot and does not. I argue that it can and does. I distinguish between broad (all persons are vulnerable) and narrow (only some persons are vulnerable) senses of vulnerability, and explain the role of vulnerability in both senses in Kantian ethics. The basis of this argument is to show that the core normative focus of Kantian ethics (...) is on the dignity that human beings have in virtue of their capacity for rational agency. This implies that the empirical conditions under which human beings can acquire, sustain, exercise, and develop their rational capacities are of core moral importance in Kantian ethics. This explains why human vulnerabilities, including the vulnerability of human bodies, are important in Kantian ethics, since rational capacities in human agents (and the bodies those rational capacities depend upon) are highly vulnerable in all persons (vulnerability in the broad sense) and especially vulnerable in some sub-groups of persons (vulnerability in the narrow sense). (shrink)
It has often been argued that Hannah Arendt ‘let off’ Eichmann through her concept of the banality of evil. In this paper I argue, through revisiting and modifying the concept of the banality of evil, that we can reject such criticism. That is, by judging that a perpetrator, like Eichmann, commits evil banally in no way undermines the grounds for holding them to be responsible for their actions, but it does help us to understand why such perpetrators act as they (...) do and to teach us how we might prevent such evil from occurring again. (shrink)
Kant has often been accused of being far too “optimistic” when it comes to the extremes of evil that humans can perpetrate upon one another. In particular, Kant’s supposed claim that humans cannot choose evil qua evil has struck many people as simply false. Another problem for Kant, or perhaps the same problem in another guise, is his supposed claim that all evil is done for the sake of self-love. While self-love might be a plausible way to explain some instances (...) of evil, it seems to be an implausible way to explain instances where people imprudently act in senselessly destructive and even self-destructive ways. Can Kant handle such extreme cases of moral evil? I shall argue that Kant can handle such cases by: (1) defending Kant’s denial of the possibility of a devilish human being; (2) showing how Kant can conceptually account for agents who choose evil qua evil, and (3) putting Kant’s account of passions to work inorder to understand self-destructive evil. (shrink)
If there is one lesson that Hannah Arendt drew from her encounter with Adolf Eichmann in Jerusalem it was that the moral and political dangers of thoughtlessness had been grossly underestimated. But while thoughtlessness clearly “has its perils”, (LMT 177) as the example of Eichmann illustrates, thoughtfulness has its own problems, as the example of Heidegger illustrates. In the course of her 1964 interview with Günter Gaus, Arendt recalls her distaste for “intellectual business” that arose from witnessing the widespread and (...) “relatively voluntary” Gleichshaltung (co-ordination) of German “intellectuals” with the Nazis in 1933 (EU: 10). This was the year that Heidegger, Arendt’s former teacher and friend, “entered the Nazi Party in a very sensational way” (EU: 187). But Heidegger is for Arendt also a paragon of thoughtfulness who exposes the “incomprehensible triviality” (or banality) of “the they” and their “mere talk” (MDT: ix). This raises the following question: how can thoughtfulness, in the guise of Heidegger, and thoughtlessness, in the guise of Eichmann, both (though to a very different extent) lead to ‘co-ordination’ with the Nazis? What does this tell us about the relation between thinking and evil? (shrink)
There has been much recent debate concerning how Hannah Arendt's concepts of radical evil and the banality of evil `fit together', if at all. I argue that the first of these concepts deals with a certain type of evil, in particular the evil that occurred in the Nazi death camps. The second deals with a certain type of perpetrator of evil, in particular the banal `nobody', Eichmann. As such, bar a localized incompatibility in regard to Arendt's early account of the (...) motivation of perpetrators of radical evil, these two concepts are independent but nonetheless highly complementary. Key Words: Hannah Arendt • banality of evil • Adolf Eichmann • evil • forgiveness • Immanuel Kant • punishment • radical evil. (shrink)
Kant identifies the “highest moral-physical good” as that combination of “good living” and “true humanity” which best harmonises in a “good meal in good company”. Why does Kant privilege the dinner party in this way? By examining Kant’s accounts of enlightenment, cosmopolitanism, love and respect, and gratitude and friendship, the answer to this question becomes clear. Kant’s moral ideal is that of an enlightened and just cosmopolitan human being who feels and acts with respect and love for all persons and (...) such an ideal is temporarily manifested in the sort of social interaction achievable at a good dinner party. (shrink)
What is the moral law and what role does it and should it play in political theory and political practice? In this entry we will try to answer these important questions by first examining what the moral law is, before investigating the different ways in which the relationship between morality and politics can be conceptualized.
In this paper I argue that Kant develops, in a number of texts, a detailed three stage theory of moral development which resembles the contemporary accounts of moral development defended by Lawrence Kohlberg and John Rawls. The first stage in this process is that of physical education and disciplining, followed by cultivating and civilising, with a third and final stage of moralising. The outcome of this process of moral development is a fully autonomous person. However, Kant’s account of moral development (...) appears to be in tension with other elements of his moral philosophy. I identify two such tensions, which I call the knowledge and revolution tensions, and show why these tensions are illusory. As such, a proper understanding of Kant’s theory of moral development, far from exposing genuine tensions, helps rather to deepen our understanding of Kant’s moral philosophy. (shrink)
Kant argues that morals should not only constrain politics, but that morals and politics properly understood cannot conflict. Such an uncompromising stance on the relation of morals to politics has been branded unrealistic and even politically irresponsible. While justice can afford to be blind, politics must keep its eyes wide open. In response to this charge I argue that Kant’s position on the relation of morals to politics is both morally uncompromising and yet politically flexible, both principled and practical. Kantian (...) justice is not blind to circumstances, and we need not abandon our convictions in order to be politically responsible. Indeed, Kant argues that future political progress can only be achieved when the coerced rule of right is coupled with the non-coerced rule of virtue. For Kant, freedom and justice are intertwined with publicity, and publicity depends upon the critical acumen and moral candour of an enlightened and virtuous citizenry. (shrink)
A strong distinction is often made between personal autonomy and moral autonomy. Personal autonomy involves governing yourself in the pursuit of your own conception of the good. Moral autonomy involves legislating the moral law for yourself. Viewed in this way personal autonomy seems at best marginal and at worst a positive hindrance to moral autonomy, since personal autonomy can conflict with moral autonomy. Given that Kantian approaches to morality are closely aligned with moral autonomy, does that mean that the Kantian (...) must view personal autonomy as a moral hindrance? Can there be a legitimate role for personal autonomy within Kant’s ethical framework? This paper will seek to argue: that personal and moral autonomy need not be seen as in tension or at odds with one another; that Kant defends an attractive weak substantive theory of personal autonomy; that socialisation plays an important role (both positive and negative) in the development of autonomy competences in Kant’s theory; and that personal autonomy (properly understood) has an essential role to play in Kant’s ethical framework. (shrink)
The concept of evil has been an unpopular one in many recent Western political and ethical discourses. One way to justify this neglect is by pointing to the many problemswiththe concept of evil. The standard grievances brought against the very concept of evil include: that it has no proper place in secular political and ethical discourses; that it is a demonizing term of hatred that leads to violence; that it is necessarily linked with outdated notions of body and sexuality; and (...) that it only hinders rather than aids our ability to understand. I shall seek to argue in defence of the concept of evil against these charges. The upshot of this argument is that the language and concept of evil has a justified and important role to play in political and ethical discourses. (shrink)
In this paper I examine Max Deutscher’s recent accounts of thinking, willing and judging, derived from his reading of Hannah Arendt’s 'The Life of the Mind', as set out in his book 'Judgment After Arendt'. Against Deutscher I argue that thinking does not presuppose thoughtfulness, that being willing is compatible with willing reluctantly, and that actor and spectator judgments are distinct types of judgments.
There has been much recent debate on the question of whether Kant is to be best understood as a moral realist or a moral constructivist. In an attempt to resolve this debate I examine whether moral constructivism is a form of moral idealism, briefly contrast realism and idealism, and draw on work in social ontology to look at the different accounts of moral ontology implicit in realist and constructivist accounts. As a result of this investigation I conclude that Kant is (...) a moral constructivist. (shrink)
Evil acts are not merely wrong; they belong to a different moral category. For example, telling a minor lie might be wrong but it is not evil, whereas the worst act of gratuitous torture that you can imagine is evil and not merely wrong. But how do wrongs and evils differ? A theory or conception of evil should, among other things, answer that question. But once a theory of evil has been developed, how do we defend or refute it? The (...) most commonly used method for doing this in the literature has been to, respectively, provide pro-examples or counter-examples. While this method might be sufficient for establishing that a theory is at least a prima facie plausible theory of evil, it is often insufficient for making fine-grained distinctions between otherwise plausible theories of evil. To supplement this insufficiency I propose that we also focus on five theoretical virtues that a theory of evil should have. These virtues are: 1) meshing well with important theories of moral wrongdoing; 2) being based on a plausible moral psychology; 3) explaining the basis of our judgments about evil; 4) being able to alter, revise and expand our judgments about evil; and 5) being pitched at the right level of generality. The main result of this paper will be to show that these five theoretical virtues provide a useful analytical tool for interrogating plausible theories of evil. The secondary result will be to show that my theory of evil has these five virtues. (shrink)
An apathetic life is not the sort of life that most of us would want for ourselves or believe that we have a duty to strive for. And yet Kant argues that we have a duty of apathy, a duty to strive to be without affects (Affecten) and passions (Leidenschaften). But is Kant’s claim that there is a duty of apathy really as problematic as it sounds? In arguing that it is not, this paper investigates in detail in Kant’s accounts (...) of affects and passions and defends Kant’s argument that we have a duty of apathy. This investigation reveals Kant’s nuanced view on the role that sensible motivating states play in moral agency and the development of a virtuous character. (shrink)
Emmanuel Levinas’ thought seems to be strictly neither rational, phenomenological nor ontological, and it thus intentionally exposes itself to the asking of the question ‘why call it philosophy at all’? While we may have trouble containing Levinas’ thought within our traditional philosophical boundaries, I argue that this gives us no reason to exclude him from philosophy proper as a mere poser, but rather provides the occasion for reflection on just what it means, in an ethical manner, to call something ‘philosophical’. (...) Instead of asking whether or not philosophy can ‘contain’ Levinas’ thought, I contend that it would be more ethical to instead re-phrase the question in terms of ‘sociality’. When we do this, I argue, we can indeed justifiably call Levinas’ thought philosophy. (shrink)
In this paper I present an account of Wittgenstein’s ethics that follows from a so-called ‘metaphysical’ reading of the Tractatus. I argue Wittgenstein forwards two distinct theses. Negatively he claims that there can be no ethical propositions. Positively he claims that the ethical good, or good in-itself, is the rewarding happy life. The happy life involves living in perfect contented harmony with the world, however it is, because how the world is, is a manifestation of God’s will. Given the negative (...) thesis, the positive thesis cannot strictly speaking even be said. We can only make sense of this by assuming that Wittgenstein takes this positive thesis to be ‘illuminating nonsense’. (shrink)
In this volume Paul Formosa sets out a novel approach to Kantian ethics as an ethics of dignity by focusing on the Formula of Humanity as a normative principle distinct from the Formula of Universal Law. By situating the Kantian conception of dignity within the wider literature on dignity, he develops an important distinction between status dignity, which all rational agents have, and achievement dignity, which all rational agents should aspire to. He then explores constructivist and realist views on the (...) foundation of the dignity of rational agents, before developing a compelling account of who does and does not have status dignity and of what kind of achievement dignity or virtue we, as vulnerable rational agents, can and should strive for. His study will be highly valuable for those interested in Kant's ethical, moral and political philosophies. (shrink)
The fourteen essays in this volume, by leading scholars in the field, explore the relationship between teleology and politics in Kant’s corpus. Among the topics discussed are Kant’s normative political theory and legal philosophy; his cosmopolitanism and views on international relations; his theory of history; his theory of natural teleology; and the broader relationship between morality, history, nature, and politics. _Politics and Teleology in Kant_ will be of interest to a wide audience, including Kant scholars; scholars and students working in (...) moral and political philosophy, the philosophy of history, and political theory and political science; legal scholars; and international relations theorists. (shrink)