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Constructivism and the question of Objectivity: Fichte’s ethics as Critique of Kant’s

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy

Central to Kant’s moral philosophy are the notions of autonomy and spontaneity, and their relation to reason and the understanding. Recent ‘constructivist’ readings of Kant’s ethics thus emphasise the role of the subject’s reflection in moral actions - reason is the only guarantor of the moral, and the right action must be worked out by the subject and consciously assented to. In contrast,
for Fichte the moral is simply self-evident and immediately known to the subject. If Kant views the moral as requiring reflection and Fichte views the moral as immediate certainty, then it seems at first glance that the two are at loggerheads. Yet Fichte regarded himself as completing Kant’s Critical project by simply following through Kant’s thought to its fullest conclusions. Rather than
dismissing Fichte’s claim to complete Kant’s philosophy, I suggest that paying close attention to Kant’s ethics reveals him to be closer to Fichte than is often recognized.
Original languageEnglish
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Award dateNov 2013

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