Radical Evil As A Regulative Idea

Journal of the History of Philosophy 55 (4):641-673 (2017)
  Copy   BIBTEX


Kant's doctrine of the radical evil in human nature invites at least two serious worries: first, it is unclear how Kant could establish the claim that all human beings adopt an evil maxim; second, this claim seems to conflict with central features of Kant's doctrine of freedom. I argue, via criticisms of various charitable interpretations, that these problems are indeed insuperable if we read Kant as trying to establish that all human beings are evil as a matter of fact. I then develop an alternative reading that avoids these problems. On my reading, Kant transforms the complaint that humans are evil into a prescriptive regulative principle. Although we cannot know whether all human beings really are evil, we ought to presuppose “inextirpable” human evil in the context of moral “ascetic”, the practical field that answers to the duty of moral self-perfection and that aims at the development of virtue.



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 94,623

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

Kant and the struggle against evil.Allen Wood - 2019 - Educational Philosophy and Theory 51 (13):1319-1328.
Kant on the radical evil of human nature.Paul Formosa - 2007 - Philosophical Forum 38 (3):221–245.
Kant on Radical Evil: A Pragmatic Reading.Anthony Rimai - 2021 - Tattva Journal of Philosophy 13 (1):63-76.
The Root of All Evil.Tom Spencer - 2016 - International Philosophical Quarterly 56 (1):23-43.
What Perfection Demands: An Irenaean of Kant on Radical Evil.Jacqueline Mariña - 2017 - In Chris L. Firestone, Nathan A. Jacobs & James H. Joiner (eds.), Kant and the Question of Theology. New York: Cambridge University Press. pp. 183-200.
Kant on Evil.Melissa McBay Merritt - forthcoming - In Andrew Stephenson & Anil Gomes (eds.), Oxford Handbook of Kant. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
The Consistency of Kant's Doctrine of Radical Evil.Pablo Muchnik - 2002 - Dissertation, New School for Social Research


Added to PP

100 (#173,205)

6 months
24 (#147,636)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Markus Kohl
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Citations of this work

Noumenal Freedom and Kant’s Modal Antinomy.Uygar Abaci - 2022 - Kantian Review 27 (2):175-194.
Every man has his price: Kant's argument for universal radical evil.Jonas Jervell Indregard - 2022 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 65 (4):414-436.

Add more citations

References found in this work

No references found.

Add more references