Fichte’s method of moral justification

British Journal for the History of Philosophy 27 (6):1173-1193 (2019)
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While Kant’s claim that the moral law discloses our freedom to us has been extensively discussed in recent decades, the reactions to this claim among Kant’s immediate successors have gone largely overlooked by scholars. Reinhold, Creuzer, and Maimon were among three prominent thinkers of the era unwilling to follow Kant in making the moral law the condition for knowing our freedom. Maimon went so far as to reject Kant’s method of appealing to our everyday awareness of duty on the grounds that common human understanding is susceptible to error and illusion. In this paper I shall examine how these skeptical reactions to Kant’s position shaped the background for Fichte’s method of moral justification, leading up to his own deduction of the moral law in the System of Ethics. By way of conclusion, I shall propose a new interpretation of how consciousness of the moral law serves as an entry-point to Fichte’s form of idealism.

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Owen Ware
University of Toronto, Mississauga


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