Unnecessary Evil: History and Moral Progress in the Philosophy of Immanuel Kant


Demonstrates the systematic connection between Kant's ethics and his philosophy of history.
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Demonstrates the systematic connection between Kant's ethics and his philosophy of history.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Kant championed individual autonomy, but in his Religion Within the Limits of Pure Reason, he says that man is radically evil. Many readers of Kant, including Goethe, have found Kant's claims contradictory, but in her first book Anderson-Gold reconciles them. In her view, Kant thought that radical evil was a social phenomenon. It arises from the fact that people live in society and does not as such limit freedom of choice. Autonomy can thus coexist in peace with radical evil. But evil cannot effectively be opposed by uncoordinated action. The good is for Kant a matter that demands collective resolution; in deciding on a proper course of conduct, one cannot rely on the vagaries of individual assessment. Artfully reconciling Kant's ethics and pholosopy of history, this well-written book makes an important contribution to understanding the former and is highly recommended.--David Gordon, Bowling Green State Univ., OH Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
To affirm the compatibility of Kant's philosophy of history and ethics, Anderson-Gold (philosophy, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute) reverses the individualistic reading of the nature of virtue and vice. She argues that his definition of radical evil as a characteristic of the social condition of humanity makes virtue a collective task, and concludes that his views on the moral progress of the species are essential to a proper appreciation of the collective character of moral goals and the social context of both virtue and vice. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780791448205
  • Publisher: State University of New York Press
  • Publication date: 6/1/2001
  • Series: SUNY Series in Philosophy Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 138
  • Product dimensions: 5.92 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.36 (d)

Table of Contents


Introduction: Brief History of the Criticism of Moral Progress in History
1. Purposiveness and Cognition
2. From Autonomy to Radical Evil: The Social Context of Virtue and Vice
3. Radical Evil and the Ethical Commonwealth
4. Cultural Differentiation: The Origins of History
5. Purposiveness and Political Progress Law, and Human Rights



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