Cambridge University Press (2021)

Samuel J. M. Kahn
Indiana University Purdue University, Indianapolis
Compared to other aspects of Kant’s practical philosophy, Kant’s theory of conscience remains relatively unexplored in the secondary literature on his work. This is no doubt due, at least in part, to the fact that in the Groundwork to a Metaphysics of Morals (henceforth: Groundwork) and the Critique of Practical Reason, Kant's two most widely read works on ethics, conscience plays very little role. However, Kant has extended discussions of conscience in three of his lesser read works: On the Miscarriage of all Philosophical Attempts in Theodicy (henceforth: Miscarriage), the Religion within the Boundaries of mere Reason (henceforth: Religion), and the Metaphysics of Morals. There are also many unpublished notes in which Kant discusses conscience, and it may be conjectured, on the basis of extant copies of students’ notes, that conscience was a frequent topic in Kant’s lectures. As commentators have begun to play closer attention to these lesser read works, the literature on Kant’s theory of conscience has begun to develop. It is thanks to this development that this Element is possible: there is an emerging consensus that Kant’s theory of conscience is important both in its own right and insofar as it can help to correct various misunderstandings that have become part of the standard view of Kant’s ethical thought. This Element is divided into two parts. The first focuses on exegesis of Kant’s ethics. One of the overarching theses of this first part of the Element is that, although many of Kant’s claims about conscience are prima facie inconsistent, a close examination of context generally can dissolve apparent contradictions. The second part of the Element focuses on philosophical issues in Kantian ethics. One of the overarching theses of this part of the Element is that many positions traditionally associated with Kantian ethics, including the denial of moral luck, the nonaccidental rightness condition, and the guise of the objectively good, are at variance with Kant’s ethics.
Keywords Kant  Kant's ethics  Kantian ethics  conscience  moral luck  nonaccidental rightness condition  guise of the objectively good  errors of conscience
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ISBN(s) 9781108717359   1108717357
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