Fichte's Deduction of the Moral Law

In Steven Hoeltzel (ed.), The Palgrave Fichte Handbook. Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 239-256 (2019)
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Abstract

It is often assumed that Fichte's aim in Part I of the System of Ethics is to provide a deduction of the moral law, the very thing that Kant – after years of unsuccessful attempts – deemed impossible. On this familiar reading, what Kant eventually viewed as an underivable 'fact' (Factum), the authority of the moral law, is what Fichte traces to its highest ground in what he calls the principle of the 'I'. However, scholars have largely overlooked a passage in the System of Ethics where Fichte explicitly invokes Kant's doctrine of the fact of reason with approval, claiming that consciousness of the moral law grounds our belief in freedom (GA I/5:65). On the reading I defend, Fichte's invocation of the Factum is consistent with the structure of Part I when we distinguish (a) the feeling of moral compulsion from (b) the moral law itself.

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Owen Ware
University of Toronto, Mississauga

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