The Departmental Colloquium
Kant on Virtue, Happiness and the Postulate of God’s Existence
Realizing our Capacity for Practical Knowledge of the Good
In recent years, neo-Aristotelian ethical naturalism has received significant critical attention. Proponents of this view such as Philippa Foot and Michael Thompson argue that we should conceive moral goodness as a form of natural goodness. On the view they defend, the goodness of moral virtue is similar to the goodness of deep roots in an oak tree: both play a part in promoting distinct forms of life. To many of its adherents, what recommends ethical naturalism is its ability to accommodate both the objectivity of moral judgments and their practicality; yet critics argue that ethical naturalists cannot do justice to the rational or self-conscious character of human life without giving up their naturalist credentials. In this paper, I argue that we can solve this dilemma by developing what I will contend is a central Kantian insight: that we realize our capacity for practical knowledge of the good by giving the maxims of our action the form of a universal law. To develop this view, I explain why we need to reconsider how Kant conceives the relationship between virtue and happiness in the highest good, and why he holds that postulating God’s existence is a condition for promoting the highest good, the necessary object of a will determined in conformity with the moral law.
The lecture will be in English
December 25, 2018 | 12:30-14:00
Rabin Building 2001