•  7622
    On Dealing with Kant's Sexism and Racism
    SGIR Review 2 (2): 3-22. 2019.
    Kant is famous for his universalist moral theory, which emphasizes human dignity, equality, and autonomy. Yet he also defended sexist and (until late in his life) racist views. In this essay, I address the question of how current readers of Kant should deal with Kant’s sexism and racism. I first provide a brief description of Kant’s views on sexual and racial hierarchies, and of the way they intersect. I then turn to the question of whether we should set aside Kant’s sexism and racism or ‘transl…Read more
  •  1149
    Kant's Second Thoughts on Colonialism
    In Katrin Flikschuh & Lea Ypi (eds.), Kant and Colonialism: Historical and Critical Perspectives, Oxford University Press. pp. 43-67. 2014.
    Kant is widely regarded as a fierce critic of colonialism. In Toward Perpetual Peace and the Metaphysics of Morals, for example, he forcefully condemns European conduct in the colonies as a flagrant violation of the principles of right. His earlier views on colonialism have not yet received much detailed scrutiny, however. In this essay I argue that Kant actually endorsed and justified European colonialism until the early 1790s. I show that Kant’s initial endorsement and his subsequent criticism…Read more
  •  957
    A Kantian Solution to the Trolley Problem
    Oxford Studies in Normative Ethics 10 204-228. 2020.
    This chapter proposes a solution to the Trolley Problem in terms of the Kantian prohibition on using a person ‘merely as a means.’ A solution of this type seems impossible due to the difficulties it is widely thought to encounter in the scenario known as the Loop case. The chapter offers a conception of ‘using merely as a means’ that explains the morally relevant difference between the classic Bystander and Footbridge cases. It then shows, contrary to the standard view, that a bystander who dive…Read more
  •  895
    There exists a standard view of Kant’s position on global order and this view informs much of current Kantian political theory. This standard view is that Kant advocates a voluntary league of states and rejects the ideal of a federative state of states as dangerous, unrealistic, and conceptually incoherent. This standard interpretation is usually thought to fall victim to three equally standard objections. In this essay, I argue that the standard interpretation is mistaken and that the three sta…Read more
  •  844
    Contradiction and Kant’s Formula of Universal Law
    Kant-Studien 108 (1): 89-115. 2017.
    Kant’s most prominent formulation of the Categorical Imperative, known as the Formula of Universal Law (FUL), is generally thought to demand that one act only on maxims that one can will as universal laws without this generating a contradiction. Kant's view is standardly summarized as requiring the 'universalizability' of one's maxims and described in terms of the distinction between 'contradictions in conception' and 'contradictions in the will'. Focusing on the underappreciated significance of…Read more
  •  833
    Romantic cosmopolitanism: Novalis's “christianity or europe”
    Journal of the History of Philosophy 46 (2). 2008.
    German Romanticism is commonly associated with nationalism rather than cosmopolitanism. Against this standard picture, I argue that the early German romantic author, Novalis (Georg Philipp Friedrich von Hardenberg, 1772–1801) holds a decidedly cosmopolitan view. Novalis’s essay “Christianity or Europe” has been the subject of much dispute and puzzlement ever since he presented it to the Jena romantic circle in the fall of 1799. On the basis of an account of the philosophical background of Novali…Read more
  •  821
    Kant's second thoughts on race
    Philosophical Quarterly 57 (229). 2007.
    During the 1780s, as Kant was developing his universalistic moral theory, he published texts in which he defended the superiority of whites over non-whites. Whether commentators see this as evidence of inconsistent universalism or of consistent inegalitarianism, they generally assume that Kant's position on race remained stable during the 1780s and 1790s. Against this standard view, I argue on the basis of his texts that Kant radically changed his mind. I examine his 1780s race theory and his hi…Read more
  •  600
    Many regard Kant’s account of the highest good as a failure. His inclusion of happiness in the highest good, in combination with his claim that it is a duty to promote the highest good, is widely seen as inconsistent. In this essay, I argue that there is a valid argument, based on premises Kant clearly endorses, in defense of his thesis that it is a duty to promote the highest good. I first examine why Kant includes happiness in the highest good at all. On the basis of a discussion of Kant's dis…Read more
  •  463
    Kant on the Unity of Theoretical and Practical Reason
    Review of Metaphysics 52 (2): 500-528. 1998.
    In his critical works of the 1780's, Kant claims, seemingly inconsistently, that (1) theoretical and practical reason are one and the same reason, applied differently, (2) that he still needs to show that they are, and (3) that theoretical and practical reason are united. I first argue that current interpretations of Kant's doctrine of the unity of reason are insufficient. But rather than concluding that Kant’s doctrine becomes coherent only in the Critique of Judgment, I show that the three st…Read more
  •  440
    The Principle of Autonomy in Kant's Moral Theory: Its Rise and Fall
    In Eric Watkins (ed.), Kant on Persons and Agency, Cambridge University Press. pp. 61-79. 2018.
    In this essay, “The Principle of Autonomy in Kant’s Moral Theory: Its Rise and Fall,” Pauline Kleingeld notes that Kant’s Principle of Autonomy, which played a central role in both the Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals and the Critique of Practical Reason, disappeared by the time of the Metaphysics of Morals. She argues that its disappearance is due to significant changes in Kant’s political philosophy. The Principle of Autonomy states that one ought to act as if one were giving universal…Read more
  •  424
    One of the most important difficulties facing Kant’s Formula of Universal Law (FUL) is its apparent inability to show that it is always impermissible to kill others for the sake of convenience. This difficulty has led current Kantian ethicists to de-emphasize the FUL or at least complement it with other Kantian principles when dealing with murder. The difficulty stems from the fact that the maxim of convenience killing fails to generate a ‘contradiction in conception’, producing only a ‘contradi…Read more
  •  392
    Kantian Patriotism
    Philosophy and Public Affairs 29 (4): 313-341. 2000.
    In this essay, I examine the compatibility of Kantian cosmopolitanism and patriotism. In response to recent literature, I first argue that in order to discuss this issue fruitfully, one should distinguish between three different forms of patriotism and be careful to make clear when patriotism is obligatory, permissible, or prohibited. I then show that Kantians can defend the view that civic patriotism is a duty, but that attempts to also establish nationalist patriotism and trait-based patriot…Read more
  •  380
    Kant’s Cosmopolitan Patriotism
    Kant-Studien 94 (3): 299-316. 2003.
    Patriotism and cosmopolitanism are often presumed to be mutually exclusive, but Immanuel Kant defends both. Although he is best known for his moral and political cosmopolitanism, in several texts he defends the claim that we have a duty of patriotism, claiming that cosmopolitans ought to be patriotic. In this paper, I examine Kant’s different accounts of the duty of patriotism. I argue that Kant’s defense of nationalist patriotism fails, but that his argument for a duty of civic patriotism succe…Read more
  •  366
    Kant's unduly neglected concept of cosmopolitan law suggests a third sphere of public law -- in addition to constitutional law and international law -- in which both states and individuals have rights, and where individuals have these rights as ‛citizens of the earth' rather than as citizens of particular states. I critically examine Kant's view of cosmopolitan law, discussing its addressees, content, justification, and institutionalization. I argue that Kant's conception of ‛world citizenship'…Read more
  •  349
    It is frequently argued that research findings in empirical moral psychology spell trouble for Kantian ethics. Sometimes the charge is merely that Kantianism is mistaken about the role of emotions in human action, but it has also been argued that empirical moral psychology ‘debunks’ Kantian ethics as the product of precisely the emotion-driven processes it fails to acknowledge. In this essay I argue for a negative and a positive thesis. The negative thesis is that the ‘debunking’ argument agains…Read more
  •  313
    Moral consciousness and the 'fact of reason'
    In Andrews Reath & Jens Timmermann (eds.), Kant's Critique of Practical Reason: A Critical Guide, Cambridge University Press. 2010.
    At the heart of the argument of the Critique of Practical Reason, one finds Kant’s puzzling and much-criticized claim that the consciousness of the moral law can be called a ‘fact of reason’. In this essay, I clarify the meaning and the importance of this claim. I correct misunderstandings of the term ‘Factum’, situate the relevant passages within their argumentative context, and argue that Kant’s argument can be given a consistent reading on the basis of which the main questions and criticisms …Read more
  •  293
    Kant, History, and the Idea of Moral Development
    History of Philosophy Quarterly 16 (1): 59-80. 1999.
    I examine the consistency of Kant's notion of moral progress as found in his philosophy of history. To many commentators, Kant's very idea of moral development has seemed inconsistent with basic tenets of his critical philosophy. This idea has seemed incompatible with his claims that the moral law is unconditionally and universally valid, that moral agency is noumenal and atemporal, and that all humans are equally free. Against these charges, I argue not only that Kant's notion of moral devel…Read more
  •  260
    Six Varieties of Cosmopolitanism in Late Eighteenth-Century Germany
    Journal of the History of Ideas 60 (3): 505-524. 1999.
    Cosmopolitanism is not a single encompassing idea but rather comes in at least six different varieties, which have often been conflated in previous literature. This is shown on the basis of the discussion in late eighteenth-century Germany (roughly, 1780-1800). The six varieties are: (1) moral cosmopolitanism, the view that all humans belong to a single moral community; political cosmopolitanism, which advocates (2) reform of the international political and legal order or (3) a strong notion o…Read more
  •  259
    The increasingly common use of inclusive language (e.g., "he or she") in representing past philosophers' views is often inappropriate. Using Immanuel Kant's work as an example, I compare his use of terms such as "human race" and "human being" with his views on women to show that his use of generic terms does not prove that he includes women. I then discuss three different approaches to this issue, found in recent Kant-literature, and show why each of them is insufficient. I conclude that the ten…Read more
  •  236
    Virtue, Vice, and Situationism
    with Tom Bates
    In Nancy E. Snow (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Virtue, Oxford University Press. pp. 524-545. 2018.
    On the basis of psychological research, a group of philosophers known as 'situationists' argue that the evidence belies the existence of broad and stable (or 'global') character traits. They argue that this condemns as psychologically unrealistic those traditions in moral theory in which global virtues are upheld as ideals. After a survey of the debate to date, this article argues that the thesis of situationism is ill-supported by the available evidence. Situationists overlook the explanatory p…Read more
  •  215
    Nature or Providence? On the Theoretical and Moral Importance of Kant’s Philosophy of History
    American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly 75 (2): 201-219. 2001.
    Kant’s use of the terms ‘Nature’ and ‘Providence’ in his essays on history has long puzzled commentators. Kant personifies Nature and Providence in a curious way, by speaking of them as “deciding” to give humankind certain predispositions, “wanting” these to be developed, and “knowing” what is best for humans Moreover, he leaves the relationship between the two terms unclear. In this essay, I argue that Kant’s use of ‘Nature’ and ‘Providence’ can be clarified and explained. Moreover, I show …Read more
  •  202
    This is the first comprehensive account of Kant’s cosmopolitanism, highlighting its moral, political, legal, economic, cultural, and psychological aspects. Contrasting Kant’s views with those of his German contemporaries, and relating them to current debates, Pauline Kleingeld sheds new light on texts that have been hitherto neglected or underestimated. In clear and carefully argued discussions, she shows that Kant’s philosophical cosmopolitanism underwent a radical transformation in the mid 179…Read more
  •  179
    Within Kantian ethics and Kant scholarship, it is widely assumed that autonomy consists in the self-legislation of the principle of morality. In this paper, we challenge this view on both textual and philosophical grounds. We argue that Kant never unequivocally claims that the Moral Law is self-legislated and that he is not philosophically committed to this claim by his overall conception of morality. Instead, the idea of autonomy concerns only substantive moral laws, such as the law that one ou…Read more
  •  169
    Consistent egoists and situation managers: two problems for situationism
    Philosophical Explorations 18 (3): 344-361. 2015.
    According to philosophical “situationism”, psychological evidence shows that human action is typically best explained by the influence of situational factors and not by “global” and robust character traits of the agent. As a practical implication of their view, situationists recommend that efforts in moral education be shifted from character development to situation management. Much of the discussion has focused on whether global conceptions of virtue and character, and in particular Aristotelia…Read more
  •  151
    The conative character of reason in Kant's philosophy
    Journal of the History of Philosophy 36 (1): 77-97. 1998.
    This article provides a critical discussion of the problems raised by Kant’s characterization of reason as having ‘needs’ and ‘interests’. The first part presents two examples of arguments in which this conative characterization of reason plays a crucial role. The rest of the article consists of a discussion of four different interpretations of Kant's talk of reason as having needs and interests. Having identified a number of problems with literal interpretations of the conative characterizat…Read more
  •  149
    with Eric Brown
    Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 2013.
    The word ‘cosmopolitan’, which derives from the Greek word kosmopolitês (‘citizen of the world’), has been used to describe a wide variety of important views in moral and socio political philosophy. The nebulous core shared by all cosmopolitan views is the idea that all human beings, regardless of their political affiliation, do (or at least can) belong to a single community, and that this community should be cultivated. Different versions of cosmopolitanism envision this community in different …Read more
  •  144
    Kant on historiography and the use of regulative ideas
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 39 (4): 523-528. 2008.
    In this paper, I examine Kant’s methodological remarks in the ‘Idea for a universal history’ against the background of the Critique of pure reason. I argue that Kant’s approach to the function of regulative ideas of human history as a whole may still be fruitful. This approach allows for regulative ideas that are grand in scope, but modest and fallibilistic in their epistemic status. Kant’s methodological analysis should be distinguished from the specific teleological model of history he develop…Read more
  •  143
    'Autonomy' is originally a political notion. In this chapter, I argue that the political theory Kant defended while he was writing the _Groundwork_ sheds light on the difficulties that are commonly associated with his account of moral autonomy. I argue that Kant's account of the two-tiered structure of political legislation, in his _Feyerabend Lectures on Natural Law_, parallels his distinction between two levels of moral legislation, and that this helps to explain why Kant could regard the noti…Read more