Kant's Moral Philosophy in its Historical Context

Kant died on February 12 th, 1804. 200 years after his death his philosophy in general and his moral philosophy in particular are still on the agenda of philosophical debates.

We shall study selected passages from Kant's writings on moral philosophy as well as passages from works of four of his main predecessors: David Hume, Adam Smith, Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Christian-August Crusius. In comparing the different conceptions of moral philosophy offered by these authors we shall try to understand in which sense they are typical for a period called “Enlightenment”, whether there are characteristic differences between continental and Scottish versions of “Enlightenment”, and whether any of the analysed conceptions of moral philosophy can or should be adopted today. We will thereby contribute to an answer to the question raised by Juergen Habermas, namely whether the “Enlightenment” is a project which remains to be finished.

Reading List:

Christian-August Crusius, “Guide to Rational Living” (extraits). In: Schneewind (ed.) 1990, Vol. II, pp. 568 - 585 (copies will be provided).
David Hume, An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals. (any edition)
Immanuel Kant, Groundwork to the Metaphysics of Morals (Parts I and II) (any translation/edition)
Immanuel Kant, Critique of Practical Reason (§§ 1-8 and “Of the Drives of Pure Practical Reason”) (any translation/edition)
Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Discourse on the Origin and the Foundation of Inequality Among Men. (any translation/edition)
Jean-Jacques Rousseau, On The Social Contract.
Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments (selected passages). Ed. by D. D. Raphael and A. L. Macfie, Indianapolis 1982 (Liberty Fund)

Further Reading:

Darwall, Stephen, British Moralists and the Internal "ought" : 1640-1740. Cambridge 1995 (CUP)
Korsgaard, Christine, The Sources of Normativity. Cambridge 1996 (CUP)
Riley, Patrick, Will and Political Legitimacy. A Critical Exposition of Social Contract Theory in Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Kant, and Hegel. Cambridge/Mass. a. London/England 1982 (Harvard University Press)
Schneewind, J. B. (ed.), Moral Philosophy From Montaigne To Kant. Vols. I and II. Cambridge 1990 (CUP)
Schneewind, J. B., The Invention of Autonomy. A History of Modern Moral Philosophy. Cambridge 1998 (CUP)