•  1047
    Kant’s early readers were troubled by the appearance of a dilemma facing his theory of freedom. On the one hand, if we explain human actions according to laws or rules, then we risk reducing the activity of the will to necessity (the horn of determinism). But, on the other hand, if we explain human actions without laws or rules, then we face an equally undesirable outcome: that of reducing the will’s activity to mere chance (the horn of indeterminism). After providing an overview of this dilemma…Read more
  •  488
    Kant on Freedom
    University of Cambridge Press. 2023.
    Kant’s early critics maintained that his theory of freedom faces a dilemma: either it reduces the will’s activity to strict necessity by making it subject to the causality of the moral law, or it reduces the will’s activity to blind chance by liberating it from rules of any kind. This Element offers a new interpretation of Kant’s theory against the backdrop of this controversy. It argues that Kant was a consistent proponent of the claim that the moral law is the causal law of a free will, and th…Read more
  •  361
    This book sheds new light on the fascinating - at times dark and at times hopeful - reception of classical Yoga philosophies in Germany during the nineteenth century. Written for non-specialists, Indian Philosophy and Yoga in Germany will be of interest to students and scholars working on 19th-century philosophy, Indian philosophy, comparative philosophy, Hindu studies, intellectual history, and religious history.
  •  704
    The Second Person in Fichte and Levinas
    Graduate Faculty Philosophy Journal 41 (2): 1-20. 2020.
    Levinas never engaged closely with Fichte’s work, but there are two places in the chapter “Substitution,” in Otherwise than Being (1974), where he mentions Fichte by name. The point that Levinas underscores in both of these passages is that the other’s encounter with the subject is not the outcome of the subject’s freedom; it is not posited by the subject, as Fichte has it, but is prior to any free activity. The aim of this paper is to deepen the comparison between Levinas and Fichte, giving spe…Read more
  •  1
    Feeling, Drive, and the Lower Capacity of Desire
    In Stefano Bacin & Owen Ware (eds.), Fichte's _System of Ethics_: A Critical Guide, Cambridge University Press. 2021.
    Part II of Fichte’s System of Ethics is titled “Deduction of the Reality and Applicability of the Moral Law.” In this chapter, I argue that what motivates Fichte’s new deduction is a concern to avoid what he calls “empty formula philosophy,” that is, a philosophy which fails to explain how willing an object is possible. Fichte sets out to avoid this shortcoming by offering a complex theory of the drives, focusing first on what he calls our “lower capacity of desire.” I argue that the key to unde…Read more
  •  58
    Fichte's System of Ethics: A Critical Guide (edited book)
    Cambridge University Press. 2021.
    The System of Ethics was published at the height of Fichte's academic career and marks the culmination of his philosophical development in Jena. Much more than a treatise on ethics narrowly construed, the System of Ethics presents a unified synthesis of Fichte's core philosophical ideas, including the principle I-hood, self-activity and self-consciousness, and also contains his most detailed treatment of action and agency. This volume brings together an international group of leading scholars on…Read more
  •  605
    Kant's Justification of Ethics
    Oxford University Press. 2021.
    Kant’s arguments for the reality of human freedom and the normativity of the moral law continue to inspire work in contemporary moral philosophy. Many prominent ethicists invoke Kant, directly or indirectly, in their efforts to derive the authority of moral requirements from a more basic conception of action, agency, or rationality. But many commentators have detected a deep rift between the _Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals_ and the _Critique of Practical Reason_, leaving Kant’s project…Read more
  •  1204
    This paper examines the distinction between self-love and self-conceit in Kant's moral psychology. It motivates an alternative account of the origin of self-conceit by drawing a parallel to what Kant calls transcendental illusion.
  •  441
    Fichte's Moral Philosophy
    Oxford University Press. 2020.
    Owen Ware here develops and defends a novel interpretation of Fichte’s moral philosophy as an ethics of wholeness. While virtually forgotten for most of the twentieth century, Fichte’s System of Ethics is now recognized by scholars as a masterpiece in the history of post-Kantian thought and a key text for understanding the work of later German idealist thinkers. This book provides a careful examination of the intellectual context in which Fichte’s moral philosophy evolved and of the specific ar…Read more
  •  142
    Freedom immediately after Kant
    European Journal of Philosophy 27 (4): 865-881. 2019.
    Kant’s effort to defend the co-existence of transcendental freedom and natural necessity is one of the crowning achievements of the first Critique. Yet by identifying the will with practical reason in his moral philosophy, he lent support to the view that the moral law is the causal law of a free will – the result of which, as Reinhold argued, left immoral action impossible. However, Reinhold’s attempt to separate the will from practical reason generated difficulties of its own, which Maimon was…Read more
  •  877
    Fichte’s method of moral justification
    British Journal for the History of Philosophy 27 (6): 1173-1193. 2019.
    While Kant’s claim that the moral law discloses our freedom to us has been extensively discussed in recent decades, the reactions to this claim among Kant’s immediate successors have gone largely overlooked by scholars. Reinhold, Creuzer, and Maimon were among three prominent thinkers of the era unwilling to follow Kant in making the moral law the condition for knowing our freedom. Maimon went so far as to reject Kant’s method of appealing to our everyday awareness of duty on the grounds that co…Read more
  •  599
    Universality and Historicity: On the Sources of Religion
    Research in Phenomenology 36 (1): 238-254. 2006.
    One of the central questions of Jacques Derrida's later writings concerns the sources of religion. At times he gives explicit priority to the universal dimension of religion. In other places, however, he considers the primacy of faith in its concrete, historical context. This paper will clarify Derrida's relationship to universality and historicity by first comparing his notion of "messianicity without messianism" to that of Walter Benjamin's "weak Messianism." After drawing out these difference…Read more
  •  448
    Schiller on Evil and the Emergence of Reason
    History of Philosophy Quarterly 35 (4): 337-355. 2018.
    Schiller was one of many early post-Kantians who wrestled with Kant’s doctrine of radical evil, a doctrine that continues to puzzle commentators today. Schiller’s own explanation of why we are prone to pursue happiness without restriction is, I argue, subtle and multilayered: it offers us a new genealogy of reflective agency, linking our tendency to egoism to the first emergence of reason within human beings. On the reading I defend, our drive for the absolute does not lead us directly to moral …Read more
  •  622
    Fichte's Deduction of the Moral Law
    In Steven Hoeltzel (ed.), The Palgrave Fichte Handbook, Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 239-256. 2019.
    It is often assumed that Fichte's aim in Part I of the System of Ethics is to provide a deduction of the moral law, the very thing that Kant – after years of unsuccessful attempts – deemed impossible. On this familiar reading, what Kant eventually viewed as an underivable 'fact' (Factum), the authority of the moral law, is what Fichte traces to its highest ground in what he calls the principle of the 'I'. However, scholars have largely overlooked a passage in the System of Ethics where Fichte ex…Read more
  •  17
    Fichte's Ethical Holism
    In James A. Clarke & Gabriel Gottlieb (eds.), Practical Philosophy From Kant to Hegel: Freedom, Right, and Revolution, Cambridge University Press. pp. 138-156. 2020.
    My aim in this chapter is to address what looks like a tension in Fichte’s derivation of ethical content for the moral law in his System of Ethics. In the first place, Fichte seeks to derive the content of our duties from our “natural drive [Naturtrieb],” which he defines in terms of our striving for enjoyment. But later in the book we find a second argument that derives the content of our duties from what Fichte calls the conditions of our “I-hood [Ichheit],” namely, our embodiment, intelligenc…Read more
  •  733
    The Concept of Persons in Kant and Fichte
    In Antonia LoLordo (ed.), Persons: A History, Oxford University Press, Usa. 2019.
    It is well known that Kant seeks to discredit rational psychology on the grounds that we cannot access the nature of the soul by reflecting upon the ‘I think’ of self-consciousness. What is far less understood, however, is why Kant still believes the theorems of rational psychology are analytically true insofar as they represent the ‘I’ through the categories of substance, reality, unity, and existence. Early post-Kantian thinkers like Fichte would abandon this restriction and approach the conce…Read more
  •  54
    Review: Sittliches Bewusstsein und kategorischer Imperativ in Kants 'Grundlegung' (review)
    Journal of the History of Philosophy 55 (2): 355-356. 2017.
    Heiko Puls's commentary is a welcome, and timely, addition to a growing wave of interest in the third section of Kant's Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals.
  •  1462
    One of the most controversial issues to emerge in recent studies of Fichte concerns the status of his normative ethics, i.e., his theory of what makes actions morally good or bad. Scholars are divided over Fichte’s view regarding the ‘final end’ of moral striving, since it appears this end can be either a specific goal permitting maximizing calculations (the consequentialist reading defended by Kosch 2015), or an indeterminate goal permitting only duty-based decisions (the deontological reading …Read more
  •  1388
    Skepticism in Kant's Groundwork
    European Journal of Philosophy 24 (2): 375-396. 2016.
    This paper offers a new interpretation of Kant's relationship with skepticism in the Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals. My position differs from commonly held views in the literature in two ways. On the one hand, I argue that Kant's relationship with skepticism is active and systematic (contrary to Hill, Wood, Rawls, Timmermann, and Allison). On the other hand, I argue that the kind of skepticism Kant is interested in does not speak to the philosophical tradition in any straightforward se…Read more
  •  112
    Agency and Evil in Fichte’s Ethics
    Philosophers' Imprint 15. 2015.
    This paper examines Fichte's proof of evil in §16 of the System of Ethics. According to the majority of commentators, Fichte was mistaken to consider his proof Kantian in spirit (Piché 1999; Kosch 2006, 2011; Dews 2008; and Breazeale 2014). For rather than locate our propensity to evil in an act of free choice, Fichte locates it in a natural force of inertia. However, the distance between Kant and Fichte begins to close if we read his concept of inertia, not as a material force, but as a tendenc…Read more
  •  1053
    Rethinking Kant's Fact of Reason
    Philosophers' Imprint 14. 2014.
    Kant’s doctrine of the Fact of Reason is one of the most perplexing aspects of his moral philosophy. The aim of this paper is to defend Kant’s doctrine from the common charge of dogmatism. My defense turns on a previously unexplored analogy to the notion of ‘matters of fact’ popularized by members of the Royal Society in the seventeenth century. In their work, ‘facts’ were beyond doubt, often referring to experimental effects one could witness first hand. While Kant uses the German equivalent in…Read more
  •  2489
    Kant’s Deductions of Morality and Freedom
    Canadian Journal of Philosophy 47 (1): 116-147. 2017.
    It is commonly held that Kant ventured to derive morality from freedom in Groundwork III. It is also believed that he reversed this strategy in the second Critique, attempting to derive freedom from morality instead. In this paper, I set out to challenge these familiar assumptions: Kant’s argument in Groundwork III rests on a moral conception of the intelligible world, one that plays a similar role as the ‘fact of reason’ in the second Critique. Accordingly, I argue, there is no reversal in the …Read more
  •  507
    Accessing the Moral Law through Feeling
    Kantian Review 20 (2): 301-311. 2015.
    In this article I offer a critical commentary on Jeanine Grenberg’s claim that, by the time of the second Critique, Kant was committed to the view that we only access the moral law’s validity through the feeling of respect. The issue turns on how we understand Kant’s assertion that our consciousness of the moral law is a ‘fact of reason’. Grenberg argues that all facts must be forced, and anything forced must be felt. I defend an alternative interpretation, according to which the fact of reason …Read more
  •  2706
    This paper offers an overview of consciousness and personal identity in eighteenth-century philosophy. Locke introduces the concept of persons as subjects of consciousness who also simultaneously recognize themselves as such subjects. Hume, however, argues that minds are nothing but bundles of perceptions, lacking intrinsic unity at a time or across time. Yet Hume thinks our emotional responses to one another mean that persons in everyday life are defined by their virtues, vices, bodily qualitie…Read more
  •  1333
    The Duty of Self-Knowledge
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 79 (3): 671-698. 2009.
    Kant is well known for claiming that we can never really know our true moral disposition. He is less well known for claiming that the injunction "Know Yourself" is the basis of all self-regarding duties. Taken together, these two claims seem contradictory. My aim in this paper is to show how they can be reconciled. I first address the question of whether the duty of self-knowledge is logically coherent (§1). I then examine some of the practical problems surrounding the duty, notably, self-decept…Read more
  •  1506
    Kant on Moral Sensibility and Moral Motivation
    Journal of the History of Philosophy 52 (4): 727-746. 2014.
    Despite Kant’s lasting influence on philosophical accounts of moral motivation, many details of his own position remain elusive. In the Critique of Practical Reason, for example, Kant argues that our recognition of the moral law’s authority must elicit both painful and pleasurable feelings in us. On reflection, however, it is unclear how these effects could motivate us to act from duty. As a result, Kant’s theory of moral sensibility comes under a skeptical threat: the possibility of a morally m…Read more
  •  460
    Fichte's Voluntarism
    European Journal of Philosophy 18 (2): 262-282. 2009.
    Abstract: In recent work Stephen Darwall has attacked what he calls J. G. Fichte's ‘voluntarist’ thesis, the idea—on Darwall's reading—that I am bound by obligations of respect to another person by virtue of my choice to interact with him. Darwall argues that voluntary choice is incompatible with the normative force behind the concept of a person, which demands my respect non-voluntarily. He in turn defends a ‘presuppositional’ thesis which claims that I am bound by obligations of respect simply…Read more
  •  778
    Forgiveness and Respect for Persons
    American Philosophical Quarterly 51 (3). 2014.
    The concept of respect for persons is often rejected as a basis for understanding forgiveness. As many have argued, to hold your offender responsible for her actions is to respect her as a person; but this kind of respect is more likely to sustain, rather than dissolve, your resentment toward her (Garrard & McNaughton 2003; 2011; Allais 2008). I seek to defend an alternative view in this paper. To forgive, on my account, involves ceasing to identify your offender with her wrongdoing, and this re…Read more
  •  102
    Kant and Education brings together sixteen essays by an international group of scholars. The range of topics covered in the anthology is impressive. Kant's contribution to contemporary theories of education is central, as well as Kant's intellectual debt to Rousseau, the role of education in Kant's normative theories, and the impact of Kant's ideas on subsequent generations. Add to this the relative shortness of each essay (ten to fifteen pages), and one is left with an accessible introduction t…Read more
  •  411
    Kant, Skepticism, and Moral Sensibility
    Dissertation, University of Toronto. 2010.
    In his early writings, Kant says that the solution to the puzzle of how morality can serve as a motivating force in human life is nothing less than the “philosophers’ stone.” In this dissertation I show that for years Kant searched for the philosophers’ stone in the concept of “respect” (Achtung), which he understood as the complex effect practical reason has on feeling. I sketch the history of that search in Chapters 1-2. In Chapter 3 I show that Kant’s analysis in Groundwork I is incomplete b…Read more