Practical judgment as reflective judgment: On moral salience and Kantian particularist universalism

European Journal of Philosophy 31 (3):600-621 (2023)
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Moral particularists and generalists alike have struggled over how to incorporate the role of moral salience in ethical reasoning. In this paper, I point to neglected resources in Kant to account for the role of moral salience in maxim formation: Kant's theory of reflective judgment. Kant tasks reflective judgment with picking out salient empirical particulars for formation into maxims, associating it with purposiveness, or intentional activity (action on ends). The unexpected resources in Kantian reflective judgment suggest the possibility of a particularist universalism, where recalcitrant particulars directly inform, and in some cases revise, moral principles. Such an account improves on particularist accounts of moral salience and moral perception: rather than deriving moral sensitivity solely from an agent's upbringing or cultural resources, the reflective dimension is situated alongside the universalist dimension of moral principles typically identified with Kantian ethics, allowing for a critical approach both to moral universals and to the reception of moral particulars.

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Sabina Vaccarino Bremner
University of Pennsylvania


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