XI KANT KONGRESS, XI Congresso Kantiano Internazionale

Is Kant a Moral Constructivist or a Moral Realist?

Paul Formosa

Edificio: Palazzo dei Congressi
Sala: sala Beccaria
Data: 24 maggio 2010 - 14:30
Ultima modifica: 13 aprile 2010


The dominant interpretation of Kant as a moral constructivist has recently come under sustained attack by those defending a realist reading of Kant’s moral philosophy. Both sides claim to represent, or construct, the ‘real’ Kant. So is Kant a moral constructivist or a moral realist? In answering this question I argue, via a brief detour through Kant’s transcendental idealism, that the decisive point of difference is whether or not our fundamental normative claims are based in realist receptivity or constructivist spontaneity. On the basis of this distinction I defend the claim that Kant is a moral constructivist. Next, I examine in greater detail the prominent constructivist accounts of John Rawls and Christine Korsgaard. In contrast to Korsgaard I argue that rational choice is not the source but only the condition of all value. Further, I defend Kant's claim that the ends in themselves status of persons is a norm of pure rationality.