Community and Progress in Kant's Moral Philosophy
Immanuel Kant's moral philosophy has often been criticized for ignoring a crucial dimension of community in its account of the lives that agents ought to lead. Historical and contemporary critics alike often paint Kant's moral theory, with its emphasis on rationality, as overly formalistic and unrealistically isolating. Against these criticisms, Kate A. Moran argues that Kant's moral philosophy reserves a central role for community in several important respects.
In the first part of her book, Moran asserts that Kant's most developed account of the goal toward which agents ought to strive is actually a kind of ethical community. Indeed, Kant claims that agents have a duty to pursue this goal. Moran argues that this duty entails a concern for the development of agents' moral characters and capacities for moral reasoning, as well as the institutions and relationships that aid in this development. Next, Moran examines three specific social institutions and relationships that, according to Kant, help develop moral character and moral reasoning. In three separate chapters, Moran examines the role that moral education, friendship, and participation in civil society play in developing agents' moral capacities. Far from being mere afterthoughts in Kant's moral system, Moran maintains that these institutions are crucial in bringing about the end of an ethical community.
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. It will, therefore, be an invaluable tool in understanding both the complexities of Kant's moral philosophy, and how even a liberal, deontological theory like Kant's can give a satisfying account of the importance of community in our moral lives.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Kate A. Moran is assistant professor of philosophy at Brandeis University.