Rational Hope, Moral Order, and the Revolution of the Will

In Eric Watkins (ed.), Divine Order, Human Order, and the Order of Nature. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 197-218 (2013)
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This paper considers Kant's views on how it can be rational to hope for God's assistance in becoming morally good. If I am fully responsible for making myself good and can make myself good, then my moral condition depends entirely on me. However, if my moral condition depends entirely on me, then it cannot depend on God, and it is therefore impossible for God to provide me with any assistance. But if it is impossible for God to provide me with any assistance, it is irrational for me to hope for such assistance. I address this conundrum by providing an analysis of one necessary condition of rational hope: hope is rational only if the subject is not in a position to be certain that p is really impossible. I then offer several different strategies on which it might be rational to hope that God provides moral assistance, with the most radical of these strategies suggesting that, given our ignorance of the laws of the intelligible world, for all human beings know it is metaphysically possible that God perform a noumenal miracle on their moral character.

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Andrew Chignell
Princeton University


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