Moral Evil, Freedom and the Goodness of God: Why Kant Abandoned Theodicy

British Journal for the History of Philosophy 20 (5):973-991 (2012)
  Copy   BIBTEX


Kant proclaimed that all theodicies must fail in ?On the Miscarriage of All Philosophical Trials in Theodicy?, but it is mysterious why he did so since he had developed a theodicy of his own during the critical period. In this paper, I offer an explanation of why Kant thought theodicies necessarily fail. In his theodicy, as well as in some of his works in ethics, Kant explained moral evil as resulting from unavoidable limitations in human beings. God could not create finite beings without such limitations and so could not have created humans that were not prone to committing immoral acts. However, the work of Carl Christian Eberhard Schmid showed Kant that given his own beliefs about freedom and the nature of responsibility one could not account for moral evil in this way without tacitly denying that human beings were responsible for their actions. This result is significant not only because it explains an otherwise puzzling shift in Kant's philosophy of religion, but also because it shows that the theodicy essay provides powerful evidence that Kant's thinking about moral evil and freedom underwent fundamental shifts between early works such as the Groundwork and later works like the Religion within the Limits of Mere Reason



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 92,261

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

A philosophy of evil.Lars Fr H. Svendsen - 2010 - Champaign, IL: Dalkey Archive Press.
Kant on the radical evil of human nature.Paul Formosa - 2007 - Philosophical Forum 38 (3):221–245.
Theodicy and Toleration in Bayle’s Dictionary.Michael W. Hickson - 2013 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 51 (1):49-73.
The anxious believer: Macaulay’s prescient theodicy.Jill Graper Hernandez - 2013 - International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 73 (3):175-187.
Is theism capable of accounting for any natural evil at all?Nick Trakakis - 2005 - International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 57 (1):35 - 66.
Kant on Human Nature and Radical Evil.Camille Atkinson - 2007 - Philosophy and Theology 19 (1-2):215-224.
Kant on Moral Freedom and Moral Slavery.David Forman - 2012 - Kantian Review 17 (1):1-32.
Theodicy.Daniel Howard-Snyder - 2000 - In Kelly James Clark (ed.), Readings in the Philosophy of Religion. Peterborough, Ontario: Broadview.


Added to PP

118 (#152,745)

6 months
27 (#111,694)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Samuel Duncan
Tidewater Community College

References found in this work

Practical philosophy.Immanuel Kant - 1996 - New York: Cambridge University Press. Edited by Mary J. Gregor.
Anthropology, history, and education.Immanuel Kant - 2007 - New York: Cambridge University Press. Edited by Günter Zöller & Robert B. Louden.

View all 6 references / Add more references