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Interpreting Kant's Critiques$
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Karl Ameriks

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780199247318

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2005

DOI: 10.1093/0199247315.001.0001

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On Two Non‐Realist Interpretations of Kant's Ethics

On Two Non‐Realist Interpretations of Kant's Ethics

Chapter:
(p.262) 11 On Two Non‐Realist Interpretations of Kant's Ethics
Source:
Interpreting Kant's Critiques
Author(s):

Karl Ameriks (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/0199247315.003.0012

Turns to questions about the ultimate nature of the content of Kant’s ethical theory. It criticizes aspects of the very influential constructivist reading of Kant’s ethics, originated by John Rawls and his students and employed in Jerome Schneewind’s important account of the history of modern ethics. There are historical and systematic reasons for allowing a much more positive relation between Kant’s ethical theory and moral realism. As with his theoretical philosophy, Kant’s arguments against the metaphysical tradition can be understood as anything but global and complete and as aimed primarily at very specific forms of dogmatic objectivism or relativism. The second half of the chapter points out some ways in which this realist approach can begin to respond to the most obvious objection to it (raised recently by Charles Larmore, namely that it may not do justice to Kant’s special emphasis on autonomy. It argues that Kant’s notion of autonomy does not in fact have the overly subjective implications that are commonly ascribed to it by its opponents – and that also are often assumed, or even glorified, by many who call themselves followers of Kant.

Keywords:   autonomy, constructivism, moral realism, self-governance, skepticism, transcendental idealism

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