Common human reason in Kant : a study in Kant’s moral psychology and philosophical method
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In my thesis I explain why the common, pre-theoretical understanding of morality is an important part of Kant’s ethics, and I critically evaluate what the strengths and weaknesses are of doing ethics with the common perspective as a point of reference. In chapter 1, I discuss the significance of common rational capacities for the deduction in Groundwork III as well as for the Fact of Reason. Attention to the fundamental role of common rational capacities in the Second Critique reveals that Kant intends to provide further warrant for the Fact than its introspective self-evidence. In chapter 2, I discuss what it means for a rational agent to be endowed with common rational capacities. The agent has everything she needs to reason on her own about what she ought to do and act from rational judgements. Furthermore, I critically evaluate Kant’s claim that his ethics spells out fundamental, pre-theoretical convictions. In chapter 3, I discuss Kant’s conception of rationalizing (“Vernünfteln”). I analyse rationalizing as a process of self-deception in which an agent tries to justify or excuse violations of the moral law. This can lead to loss of the reliable use of common rational capacities. I discuss what help critical practical philosophy and moral education can afford against rationalizing. In chapter 4, I argue that Kant saw dialogical engagement with ordinary agents as an important way of obtaining data concerning the correct starting point of practical philosophy. Kant demands that whatever we get from dialog and observation has to be isolated from its contingent elements. I conclude that the main problem for Kant’s method is how we can, on the one hand, exclude non-rational content, and, on the other hand, be open to what other agents actually have to say about morality.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
Embargo Date: Print and electronic copy restricted until 14th August 2020
Embargo Reason: Thesis restricted in accordance with University regulations
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