Dissertation, University of Toronto (2010)

Owen Ware
University of Toronto, Mississauga
In his early writings, Kant says that the solution to the puzzle of how morality can serve as a motivating force in human life is nothing less than the “philosophers’ stone.” In this dissertation I show that for years Kant searched for the philosophers’ stone in the concept of “respect” (Achtung), which he understood as the complex effect practical reason has on feeling. I sketch the history of that search in Chapters 1-2. In Chapter 3 I show that Kant’s analysis in Groundwork I is incomplete because it does not explain how respect functions as a feeling in motivating choice. In Chapter 4 I argue that Kant’s subsequent attempt to sidestep this explanation in Groundwork III is unsuccessful, and that his position remains open to a skeptical threat. The argument in the second Critique, which I reconstruct in Chapters 5-6, overcomes this threat, and in doing so explains how the feeling of respect is both painful and pleasurable. In the course of defending these claims, I provide an alternative reading of the shift in Kant’s ethical project from the Groundwork of 1785 to the second Critique of 1788 Against a common view in the literature, I argue that the shift does not concern the direction of Kant’s deduction (from freedom to morality, or morality to freedom); rather, it concerns his view of human sensibility and the resources he thinks we have to make our practical self-understanding intelligible. In the second Critique, I argue, Kant develops a novel approach to moral feeling from the perspective of the human agent; and this in turn clears room in his ethics for a new kind of a priori knowledge—namely, knowledge of what the activity of practical reason must feel like. By way of conclusion, I offer a few reasons for why the form of Kant’s argument in the second Critique is still relevant today, as it shows why we can only address moral skepticism from a first-personal perspective.
Keywords Kant  Ethics  Moral Sensibility  Motivational Skepticism
Categories (categorize this paper)
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Translate to english
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

 PhilArchive page | Other versions
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

The Possibility of Altruism.Thomas Nagel - 1970 - Oxford Clarendon Press.
The Skeptic and the Dogmatist.James Pryor - 2000 - Noûs 34 (4):517–549.
Internal and External Reasons.Bernard Williams - 1979 - In Ross Harrison (ed.), Rational Action. Cambridge University Press. pp. 101-113.

View all 108 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Accessing the Moral Law Through Feeling.Owen Ware - 2015 - Kantian Review 20 (2):301-311.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

The Idea of Freedom and Moral Cognition in Groundwork III.Sergio Tenenbaum - 2012 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 84 (3):555-589.
Kant and the Pleasure of “Mere Reflection”.Melissa Zinkin - 2012 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 55 (5):433-453.
Naturalistic and Transcendental Moments in Kant's Moral Philosophy.Paul Guyer - 2007 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 50 (5):444 – 464.
Xenophobia and Kantian Rationalism.Adrian M. S. Piper - 1993 - Philosophical Forum 24 (1-3):188-232.
Kant on Construction, Apriority, and the Moral Relevance of Universalization.Timothy Rosenkoetter - 2011 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 19 (6):1143 - 1174.


Added to PP index

Total views
239 ( #45,627 of 2,498,786 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
10 ( #73,003 of 2,498,786 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes