The concept of happiness in Kant's moral, legal and political philosophy
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This doctoral thesis analyzes the systematic role of Kant’s conception of happiness in his moral, legal and political theory. Although many of his conclusions and arguments are directly or indirectly influenced by his conception of human happiness, Kant’s underlying assumptions are rarely overtly discussed or given much detail in his works. Kant also provides different and apparently incompatible definitions of happiness. This research explores the domains of Kant’s practical philosophy in which his conception of happiness plays a systematic role: the relation between the natural need of human beings to pursue happiness and the ends-oriented structure of the human will; Kant’s anti-eudaimonism in ethical theory; Kant’s claim that we have an indirect duty to promote our own happiness and the problem that under certain circumstances, the indeterminacy of happiness makes it not irrational to choose short term satisfaction at the costs of one’s overall, long term happiness, given Kant’s conception of non-moral choice as expectation of pleasure; Kant’s justification of the duty to adopt the happiness of others as our ends (the duty of beneficence) and the latitude and eventual demandingness of this duty; finally, since Kant also subsumes subsistence needs and welfare under the concept of happiness of individuals, I also engage with the question of state provision for the poor in the Kantian Rechtsstaat and explore Kant’s conception of equity or fairness (Billigkeit) as an alternative to the traditional minimalist and the welfare interpretations of the Kantian state.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
Embargo Date: 2020-11-21
Embargo Reason: Thesis restricted in accordance with University regulations. Electronic copy restricted until 21st November 2020. (Restriction now expired. Awaiting final permissions to release or further restrict full text.)