‘Only One Obligation’: Kant on the Distinction and the Normative Continuity of Ethics and Right

Studi Kantiani 29:77-90 (2016)
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Abstract
I suggest that looking at how Kant’s arguments relate to the stand of the discussion on the relationship between right and ethics in his times contributes to a better understanding of his own position in this matter. I contrast the terms of the pre-Kantian debate with Kant’s take on the matter, in order to point out how Kant gains a new perspective concerning the rela- tionship between ethics and right. While the most prominent pre-Kantian view construed right and ethics as either resulting from the application of a general principle to di erent domains or reciprocally independent, Kant’s own account centres on the difference between outer and inner freedom. I argue that Kant thereby only differentiates two relations of freedom to different hindrances, without implying any separation. This distinction allows him to construe right and ethics as sharing the same normative force of moral obligation. Therefore I suggest that Kant’s view understands the relationship between right and ethics neither as dependence nor as independence, but highlights the normative continuity throughout morals.
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Archival date: 2022-04-16
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