Theses Doctoral

The Reflective Dimension of Practical Judgment: Kant, Critique, and the Revision of Moral Universals

Vaccarino Bremner, Sabina

This dissertation defends a Kantianism that espouses an ethics of principles while emphasizing the role of revising moral principles. It claims that the resources to account for moral revision can be found in Kant’s theory of reflective judgment, the cognitive power required for forming new concepts or principles on the basis of experience. Reflective judgment, on the interpretation elaborated here, involves both the incorporation of new moral particulars into a standing moral conceptual repertoire and the revision of moral universals on the basis of such alterations. The alteration of moral universals and accommodation of recalcitrant particulars are among the operations of what is termed the ‘reflective dimension’ of practical reasoning for Kant, alongside the moral dimension of application of a priori moral principle (most notably, the categorical imperative) typically taken to exhaust Kant’s moral philosophy. Incorporating a reflective dimension into practical deliberation calls for a broader virtue, namely the taking up of a critical stance to one’s principles in general, as well as the cultivation of inventiveness towards the formation of new principles or revision of preexisting ones. Autonomy presupposes heautonomy: the practical requirement of universalizing a given maxim presupposes, first, that one create this maxim, with a critical awareness of its perpetual revisability.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Thesis Advisors
Kitcher, Patricia
Honneth, Axel
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
December 14, 2020