This paper argues that Kant’s concept of ‘respect’ for the moral law has roots in Adam Smith’s concept of ‘regard’ for the general rules of conduct, which was translated as Achtung in the first German translation of the Theory of Moral Sentiments. After illustrating that Kant’s technical understanding of respect appeared relatively late in his intellectual development, I argue that Kant’s concept of respect and Smith’s concept of regard share a basic similarity: they are both a single complex phenomenon with (...) two core aspects, namely an attitude and a feeling. I then suggest that the concept of regard offered Kant a way to deal a problem concerning moral motivation that he was trying to solve at the time he likely first read Smith. I conclude by drawing some implications from the account I have offered for our understanding of Kant’s relation to Smith more generally. (shrink)
This paper gives an account of Kant’s concept of self-contentment (Selbstzufriedenheit), i.e. the satisfaction involved in the performance of moral action. This concept is vulnerable to an important objection: if moral action is satisfying, it might only ever be performed for the sake of this satisfaction. I explain Kant’s response to this objection and argue that it is superior to Francis Hutcheson’s response to a similar objection. I conclude by showing that two other notions of moral satisfaction in Kant’s moral (...) philosophy, namely ‘sweet merit’ and the highest good, also avoid the objection. (shrink)
In this paper I critically engage with Pauline Kleingeld’s ‘volitional self-contradiction’ interpretation of Kant’s formula of universal law. I make three remarks: first, I seek to clarify what it means for a contradiction to be volitional as opposed to logical; second, I suggest that her interpretation might need to be closer to Korsgaard’s ‘practical contradiction’ interpretation than she thinks; and third, I suggest that more work needs to be done to explain how a volitional self-contradiction generates both a ‘contradiction in (...) conception’ and a ‘contradiction in will.’. (shrink)
In Chapter 8 of Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason and the Method of Metaphysics, one of Gabriele Gava’s aims is to argue that Kant’s critique of Wolff’s dogmatic method has two levels: one directed against Wolff’s metaphilosophical views and one attacking his actual procedures of argument. After providing a brief summary of the main claims Gava makes in Chapter 8 of his book, in this paper I argue two things. First, I argue against Gava’s claim that the two forms of (...) dogmatism he distinguishes between are incompatible. Second, I suggest, contrary to Gava, that Kant’s critique of these two forms of dogmatism both operate on the metaphilosophical level in the sense that they both target the dogmatist’s beliefs or theory about the method they take themselves to be following. (shrink)
Our aim in this paper is to present the distinct ways in which Wolff, Baumgarten, and Kant understand the relationship between necessitation, constraint, and reluctant action in an effort to illustrate the subtle ways in which their conceptions of obligation differ from each another. Whereas Wolff conceives of natural or moral obligation as incompatible with constraint, Baumgarten holds that constraint and reluctant action are, in some instances, compatible with natural obligation. Kant departs from Baumgarten by conceiving of obligation as necessarily (...) involving constraint: as Kant’s reply to Schiller’s famous objection reveals, obligation must take on the character of constraint to reluctant action on account of the fact that human beings possess inclinations that always threaten to impel them in directions that oppose morality. (shrink)
In this paper I propose to shed new light on the role of feeling in Kant’s psychology of moral motivation by focusing on the concept of an incentive (Triebfeder), a term he borrowed from one of his most important rationalist predecessors, Alexander Gottlieb Baumgarten. I argue that, similar to Baumgarten, Kant understands an incentive to refer to the ground of desire and that feelings function as a specific kind of ground within Kant’s psychology of moral action, namely as the ‘impelling (...) cause’ of desire. I claim that this interpretation has several advantages over the alternatives currently on offer in the literature. (shrink)
Kant claims that love ‘is a matter of feeling,’ which has led many of his interpreters to argue that he conceives of love as solely a matter of feeling, that is, as a purely pathological state. In this paper I challenge this reading by taking another one of Kant’s claims seriously, namely that all love is either benevolence or complacence and that both are rational. I place Kant’s distinction between benevolence and complacence next to the historical inspiration for it, namely (...) Francis Hutcheson’s very similar distinction, in order to argue that love is rational, for Kant, in that it requires certain rational capacities on the part of the agent. I conclude by illustrating that this has important implications for how we understand Kant’s conception of love more generally. (shrink)
In this chapter I offer an account of the nature, scope, and significance of Wolff’s claim that human beings have a duty to cognize moral good and evil. I illustrate that Wolff conceives of this duty as requiring that human beings both acquire distinct cognition of good and evil as well as avoid ignorance and error. Although Wolff intends for the duty to be quite demanding, he restricts its scope by, among other things, claiming it primarily concerns those who have (...) the skills, circumstances, and opportunity to acquire such cognition. Wolff calls these individuals the ‘inventors’ of the truths of morality and he considers himself to be such an inventor. I argue that part of the significance of this duty lies in the fact that Wolff conceives of himself as living up to it by writing the German Ethics, thereby sharing the knowledge he has ‘invented’ with others. (shrink)
This is a collection of sixteen essays by a diverse group of international scholars that offers a wide-ranging and contemporary perspective on the major aspects of Christian Wolff’s ethics. The volume focuses on Wolff’s German Ethics, arguably his most important and influential text on moral philosophy, but many of the chapters also consider the development of the basic tenets of Wolff’s moral theory in his later Latin writings. The contributions cover a range of topics, including the systematic structure of the (...) text itself and the relation between Wolff’s ethics and the preceding natural law tradition. Many chapters pay special attention to the core concepts of Wolff’s moral philosophy, such as obligation, perfection, the highest good, and happiness. Other notable topics include Wolff’s conception of moral judgment and moral education, as well as the role of psychology and anthropology in his ethical thought. The volume also contains discussion of the influence of Wolff’s ethics on subsequent figures such as C.A. Crusius, G.F. Meier, and Kant. As a whole, the volume seeks to establish the importance of Wolff’s German Ethics within the history of ethics as well as inspire others to engage with his thought. (shrink)
This chapter illustrates that Lambert’s works focus not only on mathematical and scientific topics but include reflections on issues in practical philosophy as well. I illustrate, first, that Lamber conceives of moral science [Moral] as the theory of moral judgement and, second, that an important part of this science illustrates how we are to distinguish moral truth from moral illusion.
In this article I argue that Hutcheson has a theory of obligation that is different in important ways from the views of his predecessors and that his theory may not be as problematic as critics have claimed. In section (I) I sketch a brief picture of the rich conceptual landscape surrounding the concept of obligation in the Early Modern period. I focus on the five figures Hutcheson explicitly references: Hugo Grotius, Samuel Pufendorf, their French translator and commentator Jean Barbeyrac, as (...) well as G. W. Leibniz and Richard Cumberland. In section (II) I offer an account of Hutcheson’s theory of obligation and illustrate that not only does Hutcheson have a view on what previous figures called the source, end, and object of obligation, he also focuses on the epistemological question of the origin of our idea of obligation as opposed to the metaphysical question of the efficient cause of obligation. Furthermore, although Hutcheson shares with his predecessors the idea that obligation implies a certain kind of necessity, he conceives of this necessity in a unique way, namely in terms of the necessity of a perception. In section (III) I defend Hutcheson’s theory of obligation against three objections: 1. that it makes a sham of obligation by locating its source within the human being, 2. that it is reducible to divine command theory, and 3. that, in the end, Hutcheson has no real or meaningful theory of obligation. My hope is that, at the very least, appraising these objections helps further clarify the theory of obligation that Hutcheson presents in his works. (shrink)
Several interpreters argue that Kant believes we have a duty to act “from duty.” If there is such a duty, however, then Kant's moral theory faces a serious problem, namely that of an allegedly vicious infinite regress of duties. No serious attempt has been made to determine how Kant might respond to this problem and insufficient work has been done to determine whether he even believes we have a duty to act from duty. In this paper I argue that not (...) only does Kant not hold that there is a duty to act from duty, but he also explicitly rejects the idea. (shrink)
My aim in this paper is to clarify Kant’s conception of self-contentment, which is a particular kind of satisfaction associated with being a virtuous person. I do so by placing the term in the context of Kant’s answer to an objection made by Kant’s contemporary Christian Garve, namely the objection that if virtuous action is accompanied by a feeling of satisfaction, then virtuous action might only performed in order to experience this feeling of satisfaction . I begin by illustrating the (...) main features of Kant’s concept of self-contentment before turning to Garve’s objection and Kant’s response to it. I conclude by clarifying the differences between self-contentment, respect for the moral law, and Kant’s concept of moral pleasure. (shrink)
Guest Editor's Introduction to a special issue of the Journal of Scottish Philosophy exploring 'New Perspectives on Hutcheson's Moral Philosophy'. The purpose of the special issue is to explore aspects of Hutcheson’s moral philosophy that have not received a great deal of attention in the past and to thereby illustrate that his contributions to the history of ethics are far richer than the current secondary literature suggests.
My aim in this paper is to discuss Kant’s engagement with what is arguably the core feature of Hutcheson’s moral sense theory, namely the idea that the moral sense is the foundation of moral judgement. In section one I give an account of Hutcheson’s conception of the moral sense. This sense is a perceptive faculty that explains our ability both to feel a particular kind of pleasure upon perceiving benevolence, and to appraise such benevolence as morally good on the basis (...) of this feeling. Section two summarizes Kant’s discussion of the moral sense during his pre-Critical period. Kant’s appraisal of the concept changes during this time and culminates in the 1769/70 rejection of the moral sense as the foundation of moral judgement. In section three I turn to the main reason why Kant rejects the moral sense as the foundation of moral judgement, namely because it is incapable of issuing sufficiently universal and necessary judgements of moral good and evil. I argue that underlying Kant’s rejection of the moral sense is the fact that he understands the faculty not as a “sense” proper, but as a “feeling” according to his technical understanding of these terms. In the fourth section I conclude by briefly evaluating what my analysis says about Kant’s engagement with Hutcheson. I suggest that while Kant never accepted the existence of a moral sense, Hutcheson’s position was a view with which Kant often contrasted his own, and as such it played an important role in the development and expression of Kant’s mature moral philosophy. (shrink)
Commentators disagree about the extent to which Kant’s ethics is compatible with consequentialism. A question that has not yet been asked is whether Kant had a view of his own regarding the fundamental difference between his ethical theory and a broadly consequentialist one. In this paper I argue that Kant does have such a view. I illustrate this by discussing his response to a well-known objection to his moral theory, namely that Kant offers an implicitly consequentialist theory of moral appraisal. (...) This objection was most famously raised by Mill and Schopenhauer, but also during Kant’s time by Pistorius and Tittel. I show that Kant’s response to this objection in the second Critique illustrates that he sees the fundamental difference between his moral theory and a broadly consequentialist one to be one that concerns methodology. (shrink)
This dissertation investigates a number of ways in which an eighteenth century British philosophical movement known as “moral sense theory” influenced the development of German philosopher Immanuel Kant’s (1724-1804) moral theory. I illustrate that Kant found both moral sense theory’s conception of moral judgement and its conception of moral motivation appealing during the earliest stage of his philosophical development, but eventually came to reject its conception of moral judgement, though even in his early writings Kant preserves certain features of its (...) conception of moral motivation. In the mature presentation of his moral philosophy Kant offers detailed objections to moral sense theory’s conception of moral judgement, but I illustrate that, in opposition to the claims of many recent interpreters, his considered understanding of moral motivation has only a few superficial features in common with the view presented by Hutcheson in particular. Important for an understanding of Kant’s mature conception of motivation is also the thought of Adam Smith (1723-1790), a thinker who is not part of but was highly influenced by moral sense theory. I illustrate that Smith’s notion of the attitude of “regard” for what he calls the “general rules of conduct,” as well as his conception of the “sense of duty,” influenced Kant’s conception of “respect [Achtung]” for the moral law. Finally, I illustrate that Kant’s understanding of the pleasure associated with acting morally, what he calls “self-contentment [Selbstzufriedenheit],” can be clarified in light of how Hutcheson solves a problem related to the pleasure of the moral sense. (shrink)
This chapter offers an account of Crusius’ conception of freedom. In the first part of the chapter I sketch Crusius’ understanding of ‘Thelematology’ or ‘science of the will’ and his conception of the will itself. In the second part of the paper I provide an account of Crusius’ conception of freedom of the will and I focus on two topics: his understanding of freedom as self-determination and his conception of free choice. Contrary to how some of the secondary literature portrays (...) his view, I argue that freedom of the will, for Crusius, is not best described as the freedom to choose otherwise or liberty of indifference. On the contrary, Crusius argues that free choice is rarely indifferent to its choices and is most often strongly inclined towards certain ends that free choice must overcome and choose against. (shrink)
In this chapter I evaluate whether Garve was a ‘eudaimonist’, as Kant famously alleged he was. In the first sections of the paper I clarify that eudaimonism can mean either that happiness is the final end of creation, or that human beings are always motived by the desire for happiness, and I discuss Garve’s engagement with Aristotle’s understanding of eudaimonia. I then provide an account of Garve’s understanding of happiness and discuss his theory of motivation before arguing that Garve believes (...) that happiness is both the final end of creation and ultimate end of all human action. I suggest, however, that although Garve is an egoist of sorts, he should not be classified as a hedonist. (shrink)
In the first ever commentary on the Groundwork, one of Kant’s earliest critics, Gottlob August Tittel, argues that the categorical imperative is not a new principle of morality, but merely a new formula. This objection has been unjustly neglected in the secondary literature, despite the fact that Kant explicitly responds to it in a footnote in the second Critique. In this paper I seek to offer a thorough explanation of both Tittel’s ‘new formula’ objection and Kant’s response to it, as (...) well as illustrate its significance. I argue that the objection is in fact the third step in a line of argument that Tittel presents in his commentary, and that the objection is best understood within this context. I analyze Kant’s response in the second Critique footnote line-by-line so as to show that Kant both clarifies that it was never his aim to offer a new principle, but only ‘establish’ the principle that common human reason already implicitly employs. Furthermore, I show that Kant uses the opportunity to clarify the sense in which the categorical imperative is a ‘formula [Formel]’, namely as a representation of a complicated and abstract principle, like the moral law, in a way that is easier to understand and apply. I conclude by illustrating the fourth step in Tittel’s line of argument, which makes the overall significance of the ‘new formula’ objection clear: for Tittel, the problem is not that Kant seems to be offering merely a new formula, but that the categorical imperative lacks a foundation. (shrink)
Review of two recent works on J.G.H. Feder: -/- Johann Georg Heinrich Feder. Ausgewählte Schriften. Hrgb. Von Hans-Peter Nowitzki, Udo Roth, Gideon Stiening. Berlin/Boston: De Gruyter, 2018. Werkprofile Band 9. -/- and -/- Johann Georg Heinrich Feder (1740-1821): Empirismus und Popularphilosophie Zwischen Wolff und Kant. Hrgb. Von Hans-Peter Nowitzki, Udo Roth, Gideon Stiening. Berlin/Boston: De Gruyter, 2018. Werkprofile Band 10.
Ronald Dworkin’s ‘right answer thesis’ states that there are objectively right answers to most legal cases, even in hard cases where there is deep and intractable disagreement over what the law requires. Dworkin also believes that when deciding cases in law judges and lawyers must necessarily take moral considerations into account. This is problematic, however, for if moral considerations come into play when legal decisions are made, then there can only be a single right answer as a matter of law (...) if there is a single right answer to the relevant moral question; Dworkin’s right answer thesis implies that morality is objective. Arguing against Brian Leiter’s claim that the only plausible conception of objective truth in ‘evaluative’ domains is one modeled on the conception operative in ‘hard’ domains such as science. The following paper will show that this scientific understanding of objectivity is inappropriate for evaluative domains such as morality and law. I demonstrate that, contrary to people like Leiter and John Mackie, this conclusion does not preclude the possibility of objective moral truth. I argue that the conception of objectivity that Dworkin believes is appropriate for domains such as morality and law is a legitimate one, and also that it is one we ought to embrace so that we may indeed speak of objectively ‘right’ answers to legal cases, so that the possibility of law itself is not compromised, and so the state’s authority is made legitimate. (shrink)
Kant did not initially intend to write the Critique of Practical Reason, let alone three Critiques. It was primarily the reactions to the Critique of Pure Reason and the Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals that encouraged Kant to develop his moral philosophy in the second Critique. This volume presents both new and first-time English translations of texts written by Kant’s predecessors and contemporaries that he read and responded to in the Critique of Practical Reason. It also includes several subsequent (...) reactions to the second Critique. Together, the translations in this volume present the Critique of Practical Reason in its full historical context, offering scholars and students new insight into Kant’s moral philosophy. The detailed editorial material appended to each of the eleven chapters helps introduce readers to the life and works of the authors, outlines the texts translated, and points to relevant passages across Kant’s works. (shrink)
This paper discusses the notion of epistemic circularity, supposedly different from logical circularity, and evaluates Ernest Sosa’s claim that this specific kind of circular reasoning is virtuous rather than vicious. I attempt to determine whether or not the conditions said to make epistemic circularity a permissible instance of begging the question could make other instances of circular reasoning equally permissible.
The primary method of evaluation in philosophy courses (both undergraduate and graduate) is usually some form of research paper or essay. There is an assumption, however, that the only kind of essay that philosophy students need to learn how to write is the argumentative essay. Indeed, philosophy instructors often consider other forms of writing less significant. This workshop intends to break down these introducing participants to a variety of essay styles, and to other forms of practical part of undergraduate philosophy (...) coursework. The goal of this workshop is to encourage instructors to create more purposeful and creative writing assignments in their own future courses. (shrink)
This thesis is a discussion of Theodor Adorno's concept of the "addendum". In contrast to Immanuel Kant who claimed that free and moral action amounts to pure reason alone being the cause of action, Adorno believes that a physical impulse is required for action to take place. This thesis begins by discussing Kant's philosophy in the first chapter and moves to a discussion of the addendum in the second. In the third chapter I discuss the addendum's place in Adorno's moral (...) philosophy. In that there is always a physical component involved in action, Adorno believes that some materially motivated action can be morally good. Specifically, it is the impulsive response to suffering and physical pain that Adorno believes is morally good because, as I suggest, it is only by so responding that the Holocaust can be prevented from happening again. (shrink)
Throughout Theodor Adorno’s Negative Dialectics moral philosophy is discussed only indirectly, as a subject which is relevant to the more primary discussions of freedom and world history, among others. In the relatively recently released English translation of the History and Freedom lectures, however, moral philosophy is more explicitly discussed, but even there its subject matter is of secondary importance to the more fundamental discussions of the philosophy of history and of freedom. In fact, that moral philosophy is an auxiliary concern (...) in these lectures reveals much about how Adorno views moral philosophy. Perhaps a trivial detail but revealing nonetheless, the lecture entitled ‘Transition to Moral Philosophy’ points to something quite essential about Adorno’s moral philosophy. In this lecture Adorno attempts to show that his previous discussions of the philosophy of history have direct bearing on the concept of freedom. He claims that his task is to articulate “what we [can glean]…about the problem of freedom, from the discussions of the philosophy of history” (HF, 177). Adorno rightfully believes that freedom, the ability to act (in some way) without being determined to do so, is a precondition of one’s actions being considered on moral grounds, of one being held morally accountable for such actions. Surely, therefore, it is appropriate that a transition takes place from discussing freedom to discussing moral philosophy. There is something else going on here, however, that reveals the peculiar nature of Adorno’s moral philosophy. The above quote reveals that the philosophy of history conditions the problem of freedom, and therefore moral philosophy for Adorno. The following paper attempts to show how Adorno’s moral philosophy is situated within his more foundational considerations of the philosophy of history and of freedom. As a result of it being so situated it also attempts to argue that the History and Freedom lectures reveal that the task for moral philosophy is the critique of moral philosophy. (shrink)