Institut für Philosophie
In her famous 1972 paper, Philippa Foot challenges the categoricity of moral imperatives. She argues that if it is to be more than a feature of the way we talk about morals — a feature shared with rules of etiquette she deems similarly ‘inescapable’ — the categoricity of moral requirements cannot be substantiated. Rather, moral requirements should be construed as hypothetical imperatives. Twenty years later, she rejected her earlier subjectivist view (inspired by Hume) in favour of a much more objectivist theory of human flourishing (inspired by Aristotle). Being moral is now considered part of practical rationality. But the link between reason and allegedly normative or rational facts about human nature remains obscure. As I shall argue in this lecture, Kant would sympathise with Foot’s move away from Humeanism; but embracing Aristotelian eudaemonism would strike him as a paradigm case of jumping out of the frying pan into the fire. How does Kant propose to strike a balance between subjectivity and objectivity? By advocating a formal law of autonomy that imposes restrictions on a will that is already active.
Jens Timmermann (St. Andrews)
Bernhard Ritter (bernhard [dot] ritter [at] aau [dot] at)