Research

On this page I provide some short abstracts of a few papers I am currently working on, as well as describe my dissertation and postdoctoral research projects. For my previously published work, see my CV.

Papers in Progress

‘Kant and Consequentialism in Context’ – In this paper I illustrate that H.A. Pistorius was the first to raise the charge (made famous by J.S. Mill) that Kant was offering a consequentialist ethics in disguise, i.e. that on Kant’s view actions are wrong not because universalizing their maxim would involve a contradiction, but because such universalization has undesirable consequences. I argue that Kant was aware of this charge and responded to it in the second Critique.

‘Kant and the Duty to Act from Duty’ – Although certain passages (especially in the Metaphysics of Morals) suggest that Kant believes there is a ‘duty to act from duty’, I argue that there is no such duty in Kant’s moral philosophy. As such, Kant avoids a potentially vicious regress problem, i.e. that, in turn, we would have a duty to perform ‘the duty to act from duty’ from duty, and so on ad infinitum. (this paper is part of my postdoctoral research project – see below)

‘Kant and Hutcheson on the Psychology of Moral Motivation.’ In this paper I confirm but heavily qualify a dominant trend in the secondary literature that claims Kant, similar to Hume, Hutcheson and others, believed that all action springs from desire. While true on a trivial level, I argue that Kant’s makes important amendments to this view, e.g. by introducing the idea that a desire can have a purely rational source.

‘Christian Garve’s Eudaimonism’ – I explain the role that happiness in Garve’s moral philosophy and assess the accuracy of Kant’s suggestion that Garve is a ‘eudaimonist’ (see 8:395n and 6:377). I argue that although he is not a hedonist, as Kant suggests, Garve’s moral philosophy is an egoistic one, according to which all action springs from the drive for happiness, understood by Garve as both physical and spiritual perfection. – To appear in: Christian Garve (1742-1798): Philosoph und Philologe der Aufklärung. Edited by Frank Grunert and Gideon Stiening. Berlin: De Gruyter.

‘Benevolence and Complacence: Two Kinds of Love in Kant and Hutcheson.’ In this paper I illustrate that both Hutcheson and Kant make a fundamental distinction between two kinds of love, namely love of benevolence and love of complaisance. I argue that Kant’s own, very illusive conception of love of complacence has much in common with Hutcheson’s and is a kind of approval we make on the basis of feeling. – part of the conference and book project: Kant on Sex, Love, and Friendship. Organized and Edited by Jens Timmermann, Pärttyli Rinne, and Martin Brecher.

‘Kant and Smith on Achtung for Moral Rules.’ – Expanding upon a chapter of my dissertation, in this paper I suggest that there are important conceptual similarities between Adam Smith’s notion of ‘regard’ (rendered in an early German translation as Achtung) for the ‘general rules of conduct’ and Kant’s conception of ‘respect [Achtung]’ for the moral law. I use this comparison to illuminate what it means, on Kant’s view, to recognize the authority of the moral law.

‘Lambert on Morality and Moral Illusion.’ In this paper I argue that Lambert is a kind of moral realist and explain how, on his view, the passions make us susceptible to what he calls ‘moral illusion.’ To appear in: Johann Heinrich Lambert (1728-1777) und die Mathematisierung der Aufklärung. Edited by Frank Grunert and Gideon Stiening. Berlin: De Gruyter.

Ph.D. Dissertation

In my doctoral dissertation, I investigated the influence of Shaftesbury (a.k.a. Anthony Ashley Cooper), Francis Hutcheson, and Adam Smith on the development of Kant’s moral philosophy.

For an extended abstract of my dissertation, see here:  Abstract

To access the full version of my dissertation online, see here:

Moral Sense Theory and the Development of Kant’s Ethics

Postdoctoral Research Project

During my postdoctoral period I am continuing to research the relation between Kant and eighteenth century Scottish moral philosophy by comparing the ways in which Hutcheson, Smith, and Kant conceived of moral obligation.

For a description of my postdoctoral research project, see here:

Moral Obligation in Kant and the Scottish Enlightenment

 

For more information about my past research, see my PhilPapers profile, which has a link to my Master’s thesis (‘Adorno’s Addendum to Practical Reason’) as well as a few other pieces I published as a younger graduate student.

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