This is the first book-length study in any language to examine in detail and critically assess the second part of Kant's ethics- -an empirical, impure part, which determines how best to apply pure principles to the human situation. Drawing attention to Kant's under-explored impure ethics, this revealing investigation refutes the common and long-standing misperception that Kants ethics advocates empty formalism. Making detailed use of a variety of Kantian texts never before translated into English, author Robert B. Louden reassesses the strengths (...) and weaknesses of Kantian ethics as a whole, once the second part is re-admitted to its rightful place within Kant's practical philosophy. (shrink)
IN THIS ESSAY I SKETCH SOME VICES OF VIRTUE ETHICS, DRAW ON INFERENCE ABOUT THE PHILOSOPHICAL SOURCE OF THE VICES, AND CONCLUDE WITH A RECOMMENDATION CONCERNING FUTURE EFFORTS IN MORAL THEORY CONSTRUCTION. THE SOURCE OF THE VICES, I ARGUE, LIES IN A MONONOMIC OR SINGLE-PRINCIPLE STRATEGY WITHIN NORMATIVE THEORY CONSTRUCTION, A REDUCTIONIST CONCEPTUAL SCHEME WHICH DISTORTS CERTAIN INTEGRAL ASPECTS OF OUR MORAL EXPERIENCE. MY RECOMMENDATION IS THAT THIS STRATEGY BE ABANDONED, FOR THE MORAL FIELD IS NOT UNITARY--MONONOMIC METHODS ARE NOT (...) THE BEST TOOLS FOR MORAL THEORISTS. (shrink)
Contemporary philosophers have grown increasingly skeptical toward both morality and moral theory. Some argue that moral theory is a radically misguided enterprise that does not illuminate moral practice, while others simply deny the value of morality in human life. In this important new book, Louden responds to the arguments of both "anti-morality" and "anti-theory" skeptics. In Part One, he develops and defends an alternative conception of morality, which, he argues, captures more of the central features of both Aristotelian and Kantian (...) ethics than do other contemporary models, and enables the central importance of morality to be convincingly reaffirmed. In Louden's model, morality is primarily a matter of what one does to oneself, rather than what one does or does not do to others. This model eliminates the gulf that many anti-morality critics say exists between morality's demands and the personal point of view. Louden further argues that morality's primary focus should be on agents and their lives, rather than on right actions, and that it is always better to be morally better--i.e. it is impossible to be "too moral." Part Two presents Louden's alternative conception of moral theory. Here again he draws on the work of Aristotle and Kant, showing that their moral theories have far more in common than is usually thought, and that those features that they share can be the basis for a viable moral theory that is immune to the standard anti-theory objections. Louden reaffirms the necessity and importance of moral theory in human life, and shows that moral theories fulfill a variety of genuine and indispensable human needs. (shrink)
Among moral attributes true virtue alone is sublime. … [I]t is only by means of this idea [of virtue] that any judgment as to moral worth or its opposite is possible. … Everything good that is not based on a morally good disposition … is nothing but pretence and glittering misery. 1.
Toward a Genealogy of 'Deontology' ROBERT B. LOUDEN [A]ny choice of a conceptual scheme presupposes values. Hilary Putnam, Reason, Truth, and History tN Va'HICS AS ELS~.WHEI~, the basic categories used by writers to mark the conceptual terrain of their field profoundly affect readers' understanding of what is important within the field. And in ethics , most writers who habitually employ the currently accepted categories of their discipline have no knowledge of the particular history of these categories -- of who first (...) coined them, of the purposes for which they were originally intended, of how their meanings have shifted over the years, of how ascending categories have displaced descending ones, of who is primarily responsible for their current meanings, etc. As an illustration of this claim, I propose to examine the history of'deontology' in ethics, with an aim to making the recent topographical shifts within the field less "unknown to ourselves. ''~ Who was the first author to employ "the general, ugly, and familiar head- 1Cf. Nietzsche's opening remark in The Genealogy of Morals: "We are unknown to ourselves, we seekers after knowledge [w/r Erkennendon]" . It is perhaps worth noting at the outset that the following exercise in moral genealogy is not terribly Nietzschean -- I myself accept very little of the specifics of his attack on morality. However, I do concur with Nietzsche's general conviction that moral philosophers.. (shrink)
Anthropology was a new field of study when Kant first began lecturing on it in 1772, and Kant himself was the first academic to teach regular courses in this area. As is well known, his own approach to anthropology is self-described as 'pragmatic', and Kant's pragmatic anthropology differs markedly from the anthropologies that other early contributors to the new discipline were advocating. In this essay I focus on a fundamental feature of Kant's anthropology that has been under-appreciated in previous discussions; (...) namely, the particular conception of human nature that he believes anthropology, when pursued properly, leads to. I call this conception a cosmopolitan conception of human nature. In addition to establishing the central importance of this idea for Kant's project in anthropology, I also try in this essay to unravel some of its ambiguities and tensions as well as to highlight its underlying moral motives. The cosmopolitan conception of human nature that is central to Kant's anthropology is a further indication of the significance of his anthropology for ethics. (shrink)
This essay focuses on Edmund Pincoffs’ arguments in defense of virtue ehtics and against ethical theory. His advocacy of virtue ethics hinges on the claims that: 1) the virtues are central to ancient ethics, modern ethics representing an unjustifiable change in orientation; 2) modern ethics is overly legalistic, construing morality merely as a set of universalistic action-guiding rules; 3) modern ethics is objectionably reductivistic, reducing morality to conscientiousness. Pincoffs’ opposition to ethical theory is based on the claims that: 4) ethical (...) theories are objectionably reductivistic (in numerous ways); 5) they exhibit an individualist bias which results in an indefensible abstractness; 6) they mistakenly assume that moral experts exist; 7) they lack justificatory power; 8) they are a modern invention toward which we should be skeptical. In my crítical remarks concerning Pincoffs’ positions. I argue (with numberous qualifícations) against each of the above claims. (shrink)
The movement back to Kant in our century is a movement back to the eighteenth century: one wants to regain a right to the old ideals and the old Schwärmerei—for that reason an epistemology that “sets boundaries,” which means that it permits one to posit as one may see fit a beyond of reason [ein Jenseits der Vernunft].What is Nietzsche’s aim in his celebrated but perplexing book Beyond Good and Evil? Is this work simply the paradigmatic case of Bernard Williams’s (...) claim that with Nietzsche, “resistance to the continuation of philosophy by ordinary means is built into the text, which is booby-trapped, not only against recovering theory from it, but, in many cases, against any systematic exegesis that assimilates it .. (shrink)