Autonomy is one of the central concepts of contemporary moral thought, and Kant is often credited with being the inventor of individual moral autonomy. But how and why did Kant develop this notion? The Emergence of Autonomy in Kant's Moral Philosophy is the first essay collection exclusively devoted to this topic. It traces the emergence of autonomy from Kant's earliest writings to the changes that he made to the concept in his mature works. The essays offer a close historical and (...) philosophical analysis of what prompted Kant to develop his conception of autonomy, charting the historical background which prompted his search, and thoroughly analysing different stages of his writings in order to see which element of autonomy was introduced at which point. The resulting volume will be of interest to both scholars and students of Kantian moral philosophy, as well as to anyone interested in the subject of autonomy. (shrink)
Both in historical debates and in recent discussions, the Guise of the Good Thesis represents a genuine dogma of rationalism in moral philosophy. Many influential commentators have maintained that Kant belongs in that camp, even that he “explicitly endorses” the Thesis. Attributing the Thesis to Kant, however, faces scarce textual support and amounts to a dubious understanding of the relationship of Kant’s moral philosophy to previous rationalist views. I suggest that, in Kant’s view, the Thesis only applies to the determination (...) of the will through the moral law. The principle that prior rationalists regarded as descriptive acquires in Kant’s terms a normative status. (shrink)
The contrast between Kant’s moral philosophy and Feder’s is not less crucial than the controversy caused by the Göttingen review of the first Critique. One of main targets of Kant’s moral philosophy was Feder’s view, which can be regarded as Kant's main competitor in the contemporary debate. I thus argue that the background provided by the conflict with Feder shows significant distinctive traits of Kant's view, with regard to three fundamental issues. First, I examine how the project of a pure (...) moral philosophy opposes Feder’s empirical investigation into the will, which is in fact one of the targets of Kant's criticism against universal practical philosophy. Second, a central element of Kant’s anti-eudaemonism, the contrast between happiness and self-contentment, is a rejection of the strongly moralized view of happiness that underlies Feder’s eudaemonism. Finally, I examine Tittel's objection that Kant had provided "only a new formula" of morality and Kant's response, which display a fundamental contrast between Kant’s understanding of the aims of moral theory with Feder’s common-sense conception. (shrink)
The chapter provides a brief survey of the moral views of some of the main writers advocating rationalist conceptions in philosophical ethics in Eighteenth-Century Britain and Germany, prior to Reid and Kant: Samuel Clarke, William Wollaston, John Balguy, Richard Price, Christian Wolff (along with his adversary Christian August Crusius), Alexander Gottlieb Baumgarten.
Kant’s revolutionary new approach to philosophy was accompanied by the introduction of a largely novel terminology. With the Kant-Lexikon, a lexical reference gives the modern reader access to his work on the basis of present-day editions and takes into account 20th century and contemporary research and advances in lexicology. The Kant-Lexikon includes 2395 entries authored by 221 scholars.
This paper focuses on the relationship between Kant and the traditional view of dignity. I argue that some amendments to Sensen’s description of the traditional paradigm enable us to see more clearly both where Kant adheres to the latter and where his view is original. First, a consideration of Pufendorf’s use of dignity suggests (1) that, contrary to Sensen’s reconstruction, the traditional paradigm does not entail a connection between dignity and duties to oneself, and (2) that Pufendorf’s understanding of dignity (...) as a kind of esteem, as opposed to price, provides a crucial mediation between the traditional view and Kant’s view. Finally, I argue that the traditional understanding of dignity also includes a subordinate justificatory element that helps to explain Kant’s use of dignity in the Doctrine of Virtue. (shrink)
The book presents a reconstruction of the development of Kant’s ethical thought from the 1760s till the "Metaphysics of Morals" of 1797 with a focus on the evolution of Kant’s overall project in practical philosophy. The main steps in the development of his practical philosophy are interpreted as successive attempts to connect normative ethics with an innovative preliminary descriptive inquiry. The book reconstructs the different ways in which Kant focuses this plan, stressing both the unity and the breaks in Kant’s (...) development. I thus distinguish three main phases, characterised by a different systematic project. The first part is devoted to Kant’s work on moral theory up to 1769. The second part examines Kant’s new ethical project from 1770 to 1785, while the third part considers the further developments from the second "Critique" to the "Metaphysics of Morals". (shrink)
This paper attempts to shed light on Kant’s notion of autonomy in his moral philosophy by considering Kant’s critique of the rationalist theories of morality that Kant discussed in his lectures on practical philosophy from the 1760s to the time of the Groundwork. The paper first explains Kant’s taxonomy of moral theories and his perspective on the history of ethics. Second, it considers Kant's arguments against the two main variants of ‘rationalism’ as he construes it, that is, perfectionism and theological (...) voluntarism, pointing out the similarities to previous criticisms. Third, the paper argues that Kant’s discussion of the 'rationalist' views does not amount to an unqualified dismissal, but to an attempt at working out a novel rationalist position. Kant’s criticisms of rationalist views suggest that his project emerges from the failures of previous rationalism, with the aim to work out a rationalist view that can account for moral obligation by integrating insights from the theological conception. The combination of perfectionism and theological views yields the basic outline of the idea of autonomy, consisting in the lawgiving function of a rational will as a key to the legislation of a necessary law. (shrink)
The volume contains 10 chapters on 5 main issues of philosophical ethics: Relative/Absolute, Natural/Normative, Value/Values, Reason/Passions, Commands/Counsels. Each issue is examined in two chapters, the first one dealing with ancient (or medieval) philosophical positions, and the second one dealing with modern or contemporary debates.
Aim of the paper is contributing to a context-informed understanding of Fichte’s theory of conscience. This crucial element in his moral philosophy (and, in fact, in his whole philosophy) represents the last of the many significant accounts of conscience in the 18th century, before in the following century the role of conscience in moral life was repeatedly put into question. Accordingly, in my paper I argue that: (1) Fichte puts forward an un-Kantian account of conscience, following, instead, a quite different (...) model; (2) Fichte’s views on conscience grew out of a complex conceptual milieu, from which Fichte borrows important (quasi-)sentimentalist elements; (3) Fichte’s idea of the infallibility of conscience must be distinguished from other similar views put forward in the same years. (shrink)
The chapter deals with the two most distinctive elements of the Introduction of the Naturrecht Feyerabend, namely the notions of an end in itself and autonomy. I shall argue that both are to be interpreted with regard to the aim of explaining the ground of right. In this light, I suggest that the notion of an end in itself counters a voluntarist conception like Achenwall’s with a claim whose necessity has a twofold ground: First, the representation of an unconditional worth (...) emerges as a structural element of the practical use of reason. Second, that representation concerns the necessary self-understanding of moral subjects. Finally, I argue that the other distinctive element, the occurrence of the notion of autonomy, is best understood as an application of that idea to a specific issue, which Kant addresses by showing that freedom is a self-regulating domain. (shrink)
In this work, Fichte's high school years in Schulpforta are reconstructed for the first time, building on sources never considered before and throwing new light on this first phase of his intellectual biography and on his reception of the work of important figures of the Enlightenment such as Lessing, Herder, Gottsched, Gellert, and Rosseau. – The volume also includes the most important contemporary documents on Schulpforta and Fichte's texts from those years. Among these, the most relevant is his Latin speech (...) concerning the use of rules in poetry and rhetoric. In this volume, Fichte's speech is newly translated and annotated for the first time, to provide the rich historical background. (shrink)
In response to Reinhard Brandt's criticisms (Kant-Studien 101 (2020):377-379), we defend our the conjecture on the text of Kant's "Doctrine of Virtue", § 9 presented in "Zwei Konjekturvorschläge zur Tugendlehre, § 9" (Kant-Studien 101 (2010):247-252).
The chapter shows how Kant’s ethical thought as reflected in the lectures, responds to Baumgarten’s works on moral philosophy. I argue that Kant chose Baumgarten’s textbooks for his classes for genuinely philosophical reasons. The thorough discussion of Baumgarten’s views provided Kant with important clues for developing an original position, even if mostly in opposition to Baumgarten. I illustrate this complex role of Baumgarten with a few significant examples, that also highlight some original aspects of Baumgarten’s position in comparison to Wolff’s: (...) (1) Kant follows Baumgarten’s in focusing on obligation as the crucial issue in moral philosophy, but Kant regards Baumgarten’s account as not satisfying. (2) Baumgarten’s sharply theistic foundation of morality is rejected by Kant. (3) Kant rejects also several significant aspects of Baumgarten’s division of ethical duties, thereby revealing profound differences in their conceptions of morality. (shrink)
In a cryptic passage of the "Doctrine of Virtue" (§ 23), Kant underscores the relation between the two kinds of ethical duties to others, which he calls duties of love and duties of respect. The paper will explore the issues concerning this relation, and try to clarify the meaning of it for Kant’s overall account of the duties towards others. I suggest that (1) Kant thereby highlights the role of a previously unconsidered class of duties, and highlights that that novelty (...) changes the traditional picture of other-regarding morality. (2) Most importantly, Kant shows that through their reciprocal connection both duties of love and duties of respect can be related to the obligatory end of the happiness of others. (shrink)
The Kant-Lexikon is a guide to the philosophical work of Immanuel Kant and incorporates the latest scholarship. This textbook edition presents the most important entries contained in the comprehensive, three-volume lexicon released in 2015.
The paper argues for distinguishing two aspects in Kant’s idea of self-legislation of the moral law: the immediate character (i.e., the practical necessity) of the law itself and the lawgiving function attributed to the rational will. I argue that the novelty of Kant’s thesis chiefly consists in the combination of the two aspects, and that this solves the alleged paradoxical character of the idea of self-legislation. As it grounds on the connection of a fundamental law with a lawgiving, Kant’s view (...) can be regarded as a novel variant of the mixed model first proposed by Suárez, with two crucial differences concerning the subject playing the role of the lawgiver and the notion of law involved. Finally, I argue that the inner structure of the idea of self-legislation shows that Kant’s view combines a realism of the moral law with a constructivism of moral obligation. (shrink)
I discuss Eugenio Lecaldano’s view of the search for meaning in life as presented in "Sul senso della vita" (Bologna, il Mulino, 2016), focusing on three issues. First, I suggest that an accurate account should accommodate both a prospective and a retrospective mode of the reflection on meaning in one’s own life. Second, I argue that Lecaldano’s distinction between meaningfulness and morality is underdetermined in two respects: (a) because a more flexible view of morality is able to integrate a consideration (...) of meaningfulness in terms of the agent’s own perfection, avoiding moralistic implications, and (b) because a genuine separation between meaningfulness and morality seems to make sense only from a third-person standpoint. Third, I argue that Lecaldano’s sentimentalist view is not supported by conclusive arguments and cannot account for the possibility of a meaningful life without feelings of accomplishment and affirmation. (shrink)
The aim of the paper is to shed light on some of the most original elements of Fichte’s conception of morality as expressed in his account of specific obligations. After some remarks on Fichte’s original classification of ethical duties, the paper focuses on the prohibition of lying, the duty to communicate our true knowledge, and the duty to set a good example. Fichte’s account of those duties not only goes beyond the mere justification of universally acknowledged demands, but also deploys (...) different arguments than his contemporaries, most notably Kant. Fichte thereby sketches a conception of morality in which the agent is crucially required to contribute to the morality of others. The chapter explores the contrast between Fichte’s view and Kant’s thought of an end in itself and suggests that Fichte’s view of morality amounts to a form of normative perfectionism that is qualified by the underlying claim of the agent-neutral character of moral demands. (shrink)
After qualifying in which sense ‘realism’ can be applied to eighteenth-century views about morality, I argue that while Kant shares with traditional moral realists several fundamental claims about morality, he holds that those claims must be argued for in a radically different way. Drawing on his diagnosis of the serious weaknesses of traditional moral realism, Kant proposes a novel approach that revolves around a hybrid view about moral obligation. Since his solution to that central issue combines elements of realism with (...) elements of voluntarist ascent, Kant’s position can be characterized as an idealist version of moral realism or, more specifically, as the combination of a strong realism about the moral law with an idealist account of moral obligation. (shrink)
I suggest that looking at how Kant’s arguments relate to the stand of the discussion on the relationship between right and ethics in his times contributes to a better understanding of his own position in this matter. I contrast the terms of the pre-Kantian debate with Kant’s take on the matter, in order to point out how Kant gains a new perspective concerning the rela- tionship between ethics and right. While the most prominent pre-Kantian view construed right and ethics as (...) either resulting from the application of a general principle to di erent domains or reciprocally independent, Kant’s own account centres on the difference between outer and inner freedom. I argue that Kant thereby only differentiates two relations of freedom to different hindrances, without implying any separation. This distinction allows him to construe right and ethics as sharing the same normative force of moral obligation. Therefore I suggest that Kant’s view understands the relationship between right and ethics neither as dependence nor as independence, but highlights the normative continuity throughout morals. (shrink)
The paper examines Kant’s self-criticism to the account of hypothetical imperatives given in the "Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals". Following his corrections in the introductions to the third "Critique", the paper traces the consequences of that change in his later writings, specifically with regard to the status of prudence. I argue that the revision of the account of hypothetical imperatives leads to differentiate, and ultimately separate, two functions in prudence: the setting of ends through maxims, and the pragmatic rules (...) establishing means to reach those ends. Accordingly, I furthermore argue, there is ultimately no genuine structural distinction between the rules of prudence and skill. The only difference lies in the domain in which prudence unfolds, that is, the field of human relations, and in the relevant cognitions. -/- . (shrink)
The chapter first discusses the general meaning of a 'doctrine of method' in Kant’s work, as well as the specific goals of the Doctrine of Method of the second Critique. The central section, then, focuses on the notion of 'receptivity to morality', which here has a central role and a quite distinct meaning. I argue that Kant’s main point in his account of how to 'make objective practical reason subjectively practical' (5:151) is that one ought to lead the individual agent (...) to become aware of his own dignity as a moral being. In Kant’s view, recognition of this point is relevant to the overall aim of the second Critique – to show that pure reason is practical – and of moral theory itself. The task of the Doctrine of Method is to show how it is possible to make agents aware of their basic moral capacities, and through that awareness to instil genuine moral dispositions. Accordingly, the Doctrine of Method is the completion of the Critique, confirming the conclusions of the Analytic through the common use of pure practical reason and connecting them with the experience of every moral agent. (shrink)