Community and Progress in Kant's Moral Philosophy

Community and Progress in Kant's Moral Philosophy

Kate A. Moran
Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 264
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  • Book Info
    Community and Progress in Kant's Moral Philosophy
    Book Description:

    The text draws on a wide range of Immanuel Kant's writings, including his texts on moral and political philosophy and his lectures on ethics, pedagogy, and anthropology. Though the book is grounded in an analysis of Kant's writing, it also puts forward the novel claim that Kant's theory is centrally concerned with the relationships we have in our day-to-day lives.

    eISBN: 978-0-8132-1953-0
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xii)
    (pp. 1-24)

    This book is a defense of the crucial role of community in Kant’s moral philosophy. Over the course of the chapters that follow, I argue that Kant’s moral theory reserves a central role for community in two distinct and ultimately related ways. First, Kant’s moral philosophy—though often described as unconcerned with ends and goals—actually urges us to strive toward a particular end, and this end is best understood as a kind of ethical community. Second, the means through which we can best achieve this end are also social. Participation in social institutions and relationships such as education, friendship,...

    (pp. 25-97)

    We have seen that many critics charge Kant with having an atomistic, ahistorical, and undesirably individualistic moral theory. However, when we take into account the fact that Kant’s moral theory places value upon agents who set and pursue ends for themselves, it becomes clear that Kant’s moral theory is one that has the foundational apparatus for an account of moral life that is both goal directed and connected to the projects of others. Kant makes this point most strongly—though perhaps just as obscurely—with his concept of the highest (derived) good.¹ Kant defines the highest good as that state...

  6. 2 MORAL ACTION AND MORAL DEVELOPMENT: The Mechanisms of Progress
    (pp. 98-126)

    In the last chapter, we saw that Kant’s moral philosophy is teleological in a sense not typically acknowledged by many of his critics. Specifically, the end sought by Kantian morality is one of an ethical community, realizable on earth, rather than merely hoped for or expected in the afterlife. By itself, this fact about Kant’s moral theory allows us to see his thought in a new light. Though he is often (and correctly) contrasted with consequentialist moral theories, it becomes clear that Kant, too, is concerned about the consequences and ends of our actions. For Kant, however, these consequences serve...

    (pp. 127-167)

    In this chapter, we make a transition. The previous chapters have laid the foundation for a study of institutions that help bring about moral progress and the highest good. We have seen that Kant’s most mature and consistent conception of the highest good describes the end of morality as being achievable within a community of agents in the course of human history. We have also seen that a full understanding of Kant’s theory of moral action makes room for, and indeed requires, an account of character. This fact about moral character will be especially important to keep in mind during...

    (pp. 168-203)

    One common and troubling criticism of Immanuel Kant’s moral philosophy centers around the claim that his system has no room for the intimate attachments, such as friendship, that seem, intuitively, to be part of any description of a complete life. There are at least two versions of this criticism. The first has to do with what seems like a strong requirement of impartiality on Kant’s part. Bernard Williams points to this feature of Kantian theory when he claims that “the moral point of view is specially characterized by its impartiality and indifference to any particular relations to particular persons.”¹ Sally...

    (pp. 204-240)

    This chapter examines the ways in which participation in civil society can further a community’s progress toward the highest good by contributing either to greater virtue or to greater happiness among a society’s members. Correspondingly, the discussion is divided into two main sections. First, I examine Kant’s account of a system of externally coercible laws and argue that, in limiting agents’ external freedoms so that these freedoms are consistent with one another, such a system of law promotes happiness in a way that is consistent with Kant’s account of the highest good. Second, I examine Kant’s account of a republican...

    (pp. 241-252)

    The stated goal of the discussion in this book was to show that Kant’s moral philosophy makes room for, and indeed requires, a social element in a way not typically acknowledged by his critics. We have seen that this is true in at least two senses. First, the goal of Kant’s moral system is, itself, a kind of ethical community. Second, the means of working toward this community are themselves social. In the preceding chapters, we have seen how three social institutions and activities in particular play important roles in helping us come closer to the goal of an ethical...

    (pp. 253-258)
  12. INDEX
    (pp. 259-264)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 265-265)