This is a major new study of Kant's ethics that will transform the way students and scholars approach the subject in future. Allen Wood argues that Kant's ethical vision is grounded in the idea of the dignity of the rational nature of every human being. Undergoing both natural competitiveness and social antagonism the human species, according to Kant, develops the rational capacity to struggle against its impulses towards a human community in which the ends of all are to harmonize and (...) coincide. The distinctive features of the book are twofold. First, it focuses for the first time on the central role played in Kant's ethical theory by the value of rational nature as an end itself. Second, it shows the importance of Kant's systematic theory of human nature and history, and its implications for the structure, formulation, and application of Kant's moral principles. This comprehensive study will be of critical importance to students of moral philosophy, the history of ideas, political theory, and religious studies. (shrink)
In this book, Allen Wood investigates Kant's conception of ethical theory, using it to develop a viable approach to the rights and moral duties of human beings. By remaining closer to Kant's own view of the aims of ethics, Wood's understanding of Kantian ethics differs from the received 'constructivist' interpretation, especially on such matters as the ground and function of ethical principles, the nature of ethical reasoning and autonomy as the ground of ethics. Wood does not hesitate to criticize and (...) modify Kant's conclusions when they seem inconsistent with his basic principles or fail to make the best use of the resources Kantian principles make available. Of special interest are the book's treatment of such topics as freedom of the will, the state's role in securing economic justice, sexual morality, the justification of punishment, and the prohibition on lying. (shrink)
This book follows hard upon Korsgaard's The Sources of Normativity. Both present the author's influential version of a Kantian theory of normative ethics and metaethics. Whereas The Sources of Normativity was a systematic investigation of "normativity" written as a single unit, the present volume is a collection of previously published papers, some of them already well known and much discussed, dating between 1983 and 1993. By the nature of the case, one might expect less thematic unity in this book than (...) in the other one, but the present book is a deeper and more wide ranging presentation of the author's views. Korsgaard's historical focus in The Sources of Normativity is less on Kant and more on the British moralists. Creating the Kingdom of Ends deals quite explicitly with the interpretation of Kant's moral philosophy. The papers in this book contain, in my judgment, the heart of Korsgaard's work: a variety of fresh and illuminating insights into Kant's moral theory and its relation to contemporary ethical theory which have helped to reshape the image of Kant's ethics and to refocus the issues dealt with in current moral philosophy. Or to make claims less grand but of more immediate relevance to this review, there is no question that some of the papers in this book have helped to reshape both the present writer's image of Kant's ethics and his conception of the way questions of ethical theory should be addressed. I hope below to say something both about where I think Korsgaard has gotten these matters right, and where I find her position either unclear or dubious. (shrink)
This important new study offers a powerful exposition of the ethical theory underlying Hegel's philosophy of society, politics, and history. Professor Woodshows how Hegel applies his theory to such topics as human rights, the justification of legal punishment, criteria of moral responsibility, and the authority of individual conscience. The book includes a critical discussion of Hegel's treatment of other moral philosophers, provides an account of the controversial concept of 'ethical life', and shows the relation between the theory and Hegel's critical (...) assessment of modern social institutions. The book is nontechnical and should interest anyone concerned with Hegel's ethical and political thought, including philosophers, political scientists, intellectual historians and students of German culture. (shrink)
It is commonly thought that exploitation is unjust; some think it is part of the very meaning of the word 'exploitation' that it is unjust. Those who think this will suppose that the just society has to be one in which people do not exploit one another, at least on a large scale. I will argue that exploitation is not unjust by definition, and that a society (such as Our own) might be fundamentally just while nevertheless being pervasively exploitative. I (...) do think that exploitation is nearly always a bad thing, and will try to identify the moral belief which makes most of us think it is. But I will argue that its badness does not always consist in its being unjust. (shrink)
This masterful work on Kant's Religion within the Boundaries of Mere Reason explores Kant's treatment of the Idea of God, his views concerning evil, and the moral grounds for faith in God. Kant and Religion works to deepen our understanding of religion's place and meaning within the history of human culture, touching on Kant's philosophical stance regarding theoretical, moral, political, and religious matters. Wood's breadth of knowledge of Kant's corpus, philosophical sharpness, and depth of reflection sheds light not only on (...) Kant, but also on the fate of religion and its relation to philosophy in the modern world. (shrink)
This book explores Kant's views on the concept of God and on the attempt to demonstrate God's existence as a means of understanding Kant's work as a whole and of achieving a proper appreciation of the contents of Kant's moral faith.
When we read Karl M&IX,S descriptions of the capitalist mode of production in Capital amd other writings, all our instincts tell us that these are descriptions of an unjust social system. Marx describes a. society in which one small class of persons lives in comfort and idleness while another class, in ever-increasing numbers, lives in want and vvrctchedncss, laboring to produce thc Wealth enjoyed by the fixst. Marx speaks constantly of capitalist "exploitation" of the worker, and refers to the creation (...) of surplus value as the appropriation of his "unpaid 1abor" by capital. Not 0nly docs capitalist society, as Marx describes it, strike us as unjust, but his own descriptions of it themselves seem to connote injustice. When we look in the writings of Marx and Engels for a detailed account 0f the injustices of capitalism, however, We discover at once that not only is there no attempt at all in their writings to provide an argument that capitalism is unjust, but there is not even the explicit claim that capitalism is unjust 01* incquitablc, 01* that it violatcs anyonds rights. We find, in fact, explicit denunciations and sustained criticisms of social thinkers (such as Pierre P:roudhon and Ferdinand Lassalle) who did condemn capitalism for its injustices or advocated some form of socialism as a. means of securing justice, equality, or the rights of man. We even find, perhaps to our surprise, some faixly explicit statements to the effect that capitalism, with all its manifold defects, cannot be faultcd as far as justice is concerned. Whatever else capitalism may be for Marx, it docs not seem that it is unjust. (shrink)
This entirely new translation of Critique of Pure Reason is the most accurate and informative English translation ever produced of this epochal philosophical text. Though its simple and direct style will make it suitable for all new readers of Kant, the translation displays an unprecedented philosophical and textual sophistication that will enlighten Kant scholars as well. This translation recreates as far as possible a text with the same interpretative nuances and richness as the original. The extensive editorial apparatus includes informative (...) annotation, detailed glossaries, an index, and a large-scale general introduction in which two of the world's preeminent Kant scholars provide both a succinct summary of the structure and argument of the Critique and a detailed account of its long and complex genesis. (shrink)
It is commonly thought that exploitation is unjust; some think it is part of the very meaning of the word ‘exploitation’ that it is unjust. Those who think this will suppose that the just society has to be one in which people do not exploit one another, at least on a large scale. I will argue that exploitation is not unjust by definition, and that a society might be fundamentally just while nevertheless being pervasively exploitative. I do think that exploitation (...) is nearly always a bad thing, and wul try to identify the moral belief which makes most of us think it is. But I will argue that its badness does not always consist in its being unjust. (shrink)
This is one of the most respected books on Marx's philosophical thought. Wood explains Marx's views from a philosophical standpoint and defends him against common misunderstandings and criticisms. All the major philosophical topics in Marx's work are considered: the central concept of alienation; historical materialism and Marx's account of social classes; the nature and social function of morality; philosophical materialism and Marx's atheism; and Marx's use of the Hegelian dialectical method and the Marxian theory of value.
Immanuel Kant’s _Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals _is_ _one of the most important texts in the history of ethics. In it Kant searches for the supreme principle of morality and argues for a conception of the moral life that has made this work a continuing source of controversy and an object of reinterpretation for over two centuries. This new edition of Kant’s work provides a fresh translation that is uniquely faithful to the German original and more fully annotated than (...) any previous translation. There are also four essays by well-known scholars that discuss Kant’s views and the philosophical issues raised by the _Groundwork. _J.B. Schneewind defends the continuing interest in Kantian ethics by examining its historical relation both to the ethical thought that preceded it and to its influence on the ethical theories that came after it; Marcia Baron sheds light on Kant’s famous views about moral motivation; and Shelly Kagan and Allen W. Wood advocate contrasting interpretations of Kantian ethics and its practical implications. (shrink)
Allen Wood “What is the human being?” Kant sometimes treated this question as the most fundamental question of all philosophy: “The field of philosophy in the cosmopolitan sense can be brought down to the following questions: 1. What can I know? 1. What ought I to do? 1. What may I hope? 1. What is the human being? Metaphysics answers the first question, morals the second, religion the third, and anthropology the fourth. Fundamentally, however, we could reckon all of this (...) to anthropology, because the first three questions refer to the last one”.[i]. (shrink)
'Evidentialism' is the conventional name (given mainly by its opponents) for the view that there is a moral duty to proportion one's beliefs to evidence, proof or other epistemic justifications for belief. This essay defends evidentialism against objections based on the alleged involuntariness of belief, on the claim that evidentialism assumes a doubtful epistemology, that epistemically unsupported beliefs can be beneficial, that there are significant classes of exceptions to the evidentialist principle, and other shabby evasions and alibis (as I take (...) them to be) for disregarding the duty to believe according to the evidence. Evidentialism is also supported by arguments based on both self-regarding and other-regarding considerations. (shrink)
Kant's moral philosophy is grounded on the dignity of humanity as its sole fundamental value, and involves the claim that human beings are to be regarded as the ultimate end of nature. It might be thought that a theory of this kind would be incapable of grounding any conception of our relation to other living things or to the natural world which would value nonhuman creatures or respect humanity's natural environment. This paper criticizes Kant's argumentative strategy for dealing with our (...) duties in regard to animals, but defends both his theory and most of his conclusions on these topics. (shrink)
Allen W. Wood presents the first book-length systematic exposition in English of Fichte's most important ethical work, the System of Ethics. He places this work in the context of Fichte's life and career, of his philosophical system, and in relation to his philosophy of right or justice and politics. Wood discusses Fichte's defense of freedom of the will, his grounding of the moral principle, theory of moral conscience, transcendental deduction of intersubjectivity, and his conception of free rational communication and the (...) rational society. He develops and emphasizes the social and political radicalism of Fichte's moral and political philosophy, and brings out the philosophical interest of Fichte's positions and arguments for present day philosophy. Fichte's Ethical Thought argues that Fichte is a major thinker in the history of ethics, and the most important figure in the history of modern continental philosophy in the past two centuries. (shrink)
Kant holds that the moral principle is a priori, not empirical. But consistently with this, important parts of Kantian ethics, including his formulations of the moral principle, depend on a rich and interesting empirical theory of human nature.
Should we hold beliefs only insofar as they are rationally supportable? According to Allen W. Wood, we're morally obliged to do so—and yet how does this apply to religious beliefs? _Unsettling Obligations_ examines these and related ethical and philosophical issues, taking and defending stances on many of them. Along with the theme of belief and evidence, other topics include a historical perspective of philosophy based on the Enlightenment rationalist tradition and a study of how our practical commitments help define truth (...) and value. (shrink)
The Free Development of Each collects twelve essays on the history of German philosophy by Allen W. Wood, one of the leading scholars in the field. They explore moral philosophy, politics, society, and history in the works of Kant, Herder, Fichte, Hegel, and Marx, and share the basic theme of freedom, as it appears in morality and in politics.
(Ak 10:74). During the so-called ‘silent decade’ of the 1770s, when Kant was working on the Critique of Pure Reason, he promised repeatedly not only that he would soon finish that work but also that he would soon publish a “metaphysics of morals” (Ak 10:97, 132, 144). Yet it was not until four years after the first Critique that Kant finally wrote a work on ethics, and even then he merely laid the ground for a metaphysics of morals by identifying (...) and establishing the supreme principle on which a system of duties would be based (G 4:392). Three years later, in the Critique of Practical Reason Kant once again dealt entirely with foundational questions in moral philosophy. Kantian ethics is primarily known, especially among English-speaking philosophers, through these two ethical works of the 1780s, neither of which contains anything like a ‘metaphysics of morals’. (shrink)
In his reading of Kant’s moral philosophy and its grounding in freedom of the will, Allison is best know for giving an exclusively “practical” reading to doctrines about noumenal agency, so that they are taken to have none of the outlandish metaphysical implications often thought to be associated with the Kantian conception of freedom. The central feature of Allison’s interpretation is that Kant operates with a theory of agency in which, from the agent’s standpoint, reasons do not act as causes, (...) but operate only insofar as they are taken up by the agent into principles or “maxims.” According to this “Incorporation Thesis,” sensuous impulses or desires are not causes of an action. So there is no reason to regard the motive of duty as a “noumenal” cause competing with sensuous or “phenomenal” causes. Instead, Kant’s “two standpoints theory” is to be understood as distinguishing the action as viewed from the agent’s practical standpoint from causal conceptions governing the theoretical standpoint. (shrink)
In the Preface to his best known work on moral philosophy, Kant states his purpose very clearly and succinctly: “The present groundwork is, however, nothing more than the search for and establishment of the supreme principle of morality, which already constitutes an enterprise whole in its aim and to be separated from every other moral investigation” (Groundwork 4:392). This paper will deal with the outcome of the first part of this task, namely, Kant’s attempt to formulate the supreme principle of (...) morality, which is the intended outcome of the search. It will consider this formulation in light of Kant’s conception of the historical antecedents of his attempt. (shrink)
One of the principal aims of Kant’s Metaphysics of Morals, especially of the Doctrine of Virtue, is to present a taxonomy of our duties as human beings. The basic division of duties is between juridical duties and ethical duties, which determines the division of the Metaphysics of Morals into the Doctrine of Right and the Doctrine of Virtue. Juridical duties are duties that may be coercively enforced from outside the agent, as by the civil or criminal laws, or other social (...) pressures. Ethical duties must not be externally enforced (to do so violates the right of the person coerced). Instead, the subject herself, through her own reason and the feelings and motives arising a priori from her rational capacities -- the feelings of respect, conscience, moral feeling and love of other human beings, must constrain herself to follow them (MS 6:399-404).1 Among ethical duties, the fundamental division is between duties to oneself and duties to others. Within each of these two main divisions of ethical duty, there is a further division between duties that are strictly owed, requiring specific actions or omissions, and whose violation incurs moral blame, and duties that are wide or meritorious, the specific actions not strictly owed, but deserving of moral credit or merit. Kant treats these latter as ‘duties’ (eschewing any category such as ‘supererogation’) because the actions in question are conceived as fit objects of self-constraint – things we can make ourselves do through the exercise of reason and the moral feelings arising from the application of practical reason to our faculty of desire. Regarding duties to oneself, this division is between ‘perfect’ and ‘imperfect’ duty; regarding duties to others, the strict or narrow... (shrink)
Allen W.Wood Stanford University Fichte’s overall aim in the Second Chapter of the System of Ethics is to derive the applicability of the moral principle he has deduced in the First Chapter. That principle was: To determine one’s freedom solely in accordance with the concept of selfdetermination.1 To show that this principle can be applied is to derive its application from the conditions of free agency in which we find ourselves. In the section of the Second Chapter that will concern (...) us, Fichte attempts to do this starting with our awareness of ourselves as organic beings of nature, and deriving from this awareness our consciousness of the moral principle as an activity of our freedom, together with the general object of this activity, our interest in this activity, and some preliminary indications of the way we are to identify the particular objects and actions that fall under it. It is important to keep in mind that throughout this discussion, Fichte’s concern is not with deducing philosophical propositions from the transcendental standpoint but rather with comprehending, in the light of this, the standpoint of everyday or nonphilosophical consciousness. The aim will therefore be to help us recognize the transcendental source and estimate the significance for moral philosophy of such ordinary facts of practical consciousness as drive, desire, the ‘higher’ and ‘lower’ faculties of desire, our awareness of freedom. (shrink)
Wood reiterated his previous papers of view - "For Marx, economic, trade or social system of justice or not depends on its mode of production with the established relationship" that Hussami the "justice is not only determined by the mode of production and determined by class position, "the view attributed to Marx is a misconception that Marx was a capitalist from the standards of justice to go after the critique of capitalist society, it is a misreading of Marx's text. In (...) his view, Marx's critique of capitalism is based on the analysis of the overall critique of social production, the criticism is based on freedom, community and self-realization and other non-moral good criticism, and not based on moral rights or justice, good criticism. (shrink)
This Element defends a reading of Kant's formulas of the moral law in Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals. It disputes a long tradition concerning what the first formula attempts to do. The Element also expounds the Formulas of Humanity, Autonomy and the Realm of Ends, arguing that it is only the Formula of Humanity from which Kant derives general duties, and that it is only the third formula that represents a complete and definitive statement of the moral principle as (...) Kant derives it in the Groundwork. The Element also disputes the claim that the various formulas are 'equivalent', arguing that this claim is either false or else nonsensical because it is grounded on a false premise about what Kant thinks a moral principle is for. (shrink)
Religion within the Boundaries of Mere Reason is a key element of the system of philosophy which Kant introduced with his Critique of Pure Reason, and a work of major importance in the history of Western religious thought. It represents a great philosopher's attempt to spell out the form and content of a type of religion that would be grounded in moral reason and would meet the needs of ethical life. It includes sharply critical and boldly constructive discussions on topics (...) not often treated by philosophers, including such traditional theological concepts as original sin and the salvation or 'justification' of a sinner, and the idea of the proper role of a church. This volume presents it and three short essays that illuminate it in new translations by Allen Wood and George di Giovanni, with an introduction by Robert Merrihew Adams that locates it in its historical and philosophical context. (shrink)