Understanding Moral Obligation: Kant, Hegel, Kierkegaard

Overview

In many histories of modern ethics, Kant is supposed to have ushered in an anti-realist or constructivist turn by holding that unless we ourselves 'author' or lay down moral norms and values for ourselves, our autonomy as agents will be threatened. In this book, Robert Stern challenges the cogency of this 'argument from autonomy', and claims that Kant never subscribed to it. Rather, it is not value realism but the apparent obligatoriness of morality that really poses a challenge to our autonomy: how can this be ...
See more details below
Hardcover
$85.72
BN.com price
(Save 8%)$94.00 List Price
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (9) from $66.98   
  • New (6) from $78.92   
  • Used (3) from $66.98   

Overview

In many histories of modern ethics, Kant is supposed to have ushered in an anti-realist or constructivist turn by holding that unless we ourselves 'author' or lay down moral norms and values for ourselves, our autonomy as agents will be threatened. In this book, Robert Stern challenges the cogency of this 'argument from autonomy', and claims that Kant never subscribed to it. Rather, it is not value realism but the apparent obligatoriness of morality that really poses a challenge to our autonomy: how can this be accounted for without taking away our freedom? The debate the book focuses on therefore concerns whether this obligatoriness should be located in ourselves (Kant), in others (Hegel) or in God (Kierkegaard). Stern traces the historical dialectic that drove the development of these respective theories, and clearly and sympathetically considers their merits and disadvantages; he concludes by arguing that the choice between them remains open.
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"...In this thought-provoking book on Kant's ethics and its 19th-century legacy, Stem (Univ, of Sheffield, UK) challenges a prominent interpretation of Kant that makes the autonomy of the moral subject the starting point for his determination of moral value.... Stem's account is richly rewarding in its textual commentary, historical contextualizing, and engagement with contemporary scholarship. It will be valuable for students of Kant or 19th-century ethics.... Highly recommended..."
--D.C. Kolb, St. Meinrad Archabbey Library, CHOICE

".... This is a splendidly clear and scholarly account of some central questions of ethics in Kant, Schiller, Hegel and Kierkegaard, showing the related ways in which they are treated by the four thinkers, and why they remain live today.... Stern’s book has two foci: (1) the idea of moral obligation as command, by God, self or society, (2) the nature of moral motivation and what makes a person righteous, virtuous or admirable in the highest degree, or what kind of life one is called to. His discussion of how Kant, Schiller, Hegel and Kierkegaard treat these deeply serious ethical themes is the most unaffectedly lucid and thoughtful that I have read for a long time."
--John Skorupski, Philosophy Quarterly

"This book is a valuable contribution both to our understanding of late modern philosophy and to the contemporary debate about the status of moral obligations. Stern shows how valuable historical understanding can be to a contemporary problem (in this case in metaethics), and at the same time shows how the evaluation of philosophical positions and arguments provides an essential help in interpreting the history of philosophy, in this case the history of ethics among German and German-influenced thinkers of the nineteenth and late eighteenth centuries..."
--C. Stephen Evans, Baylor University, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

"...what a terrific book Stern has given us. In addition to making a major contribution to our understanding of the history of ethics among German and German-influenced theorists of the late-eighteenth to mid-nineteenth centuries, Understanding Moral Obligation sheds valuable light on contemporary debates about the nature and status of moral obligations. Stern has provided a fresh perspective on the philosophical questions motivating Kant’s critical moral philosophy, while challenging one standard story about the relation between Kant and his successors. Anyone interested in understanding how the obligatory nature of moral commands bears on our ideas about autonomy and moral agency would benefit tremendously from reading Stern’s book."
--Anne Margaret Baxley, Washington University, Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy

"We should be very grateful to Robert Stern for providing a lucid account of three difficult philosophers in Understanding Moral Obligation. He not only gives novel interpretations of each thinker, but also weaves their thoughts together to stage a dialogue about crucial metaethical issues. Reading Stern’s book has forced me to rethink Hegel’s treatment of duty and value, to clarify my own positions and to reconsider the interpretive options. I would like to thank Stern in particular for producing such an excellent work at the juncture of historical research and systematic philosophy. We learn not only about an important historical episode, but also to think more deeply about contemporary ethical debates..."
--Dean Moyar, Johns Hopkins University, Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy

"...In Understanding Moral Obligation, Robert Stern presents an interesting account of the history of ethics from Kant through Hegel and Kierkegaard.... Stern’s story is thought-provoking, challenging, and full of interesting, detailed argumentation and interpretation.... illuminating and compelling..."
--William Bristow, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781107012073
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 12/15/2011
  • Series: Modern European Philosophy Series
  • Pages: 292
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert Stern is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Sheffield. He is the author of Hegel, Kant and the Structure of the Object (1990), Transcendental Arguments and Scepticism: Answering the Question of Justification (2000), Hegel and the 'Phenomenology of Spirit' (2002) and Hegelian Metaphysics (2009). He is editor of Transcendental Arguments: Problems and Prospects (1999) and G. W. F. Hegel: Critical Assessments (1993).
Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements; References and abbreviations; Introduction; Part I. Kant: 1. Kant, moral realism, and the argument from autonomy; 2. The argument from autonomy and the problem of moral obligation; 3. Kant's solution to the problem of moral obligation; Part II. Hegel: 4. Hegel's critique of Kant (via Schiller); 5. Hegel's solution to the problem of moral obligation; Part III. Kierkegaard: 6. Kierkegaard's critique of Hegel; 7. Kierkegaard's solution to the problem of moral obligation; Conclusion: from Kant to Kierkegaard – and back again?; Bibliography.
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)