Moral Realism by Other Means: The Hybrid Nature of Kant’s Practical Rationalism

In Elke Elisabeth Schmidt & Robinson dos Santos (eds.), Realism and Anti-Realism in Kant’s Moral Philosophy. De Gruyter. pp. 155-178 (2017)
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After qualifying in which sense ‘realism’ can be applied to eighteenth-century views about morality, I argue that while Kant shares with traditional moral realists several fundamental claims about morality, he holds that those claims must be argued for in a radically different way. Drawing on his diagnosis of the serious weaknesses of traditional moral realism, Kant proposes a novel approach that revolves around a hybrid view about moral obligation. Since his solution to that central issue combines elements of realism with elements of voluntarist ascent, Kant’s position can be characterized as an idealist version of moral realism or, more specifically, as the combination of a strong realism about the moral law with an idealist account of moral obligation.

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Stefano Bacin
Università degli Studi di Milano


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