XI KANT KONGRESS, XI Congresso Kantiano Internazionale

Kantian Naturalism in Moral Theory

Roberto Mordacci

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


The most influential interpretation of Kant’s ethical thought in the last thirty years has been in terms of constructivism ; consequently, the Categorical Imperative has been interpreted as a procedure and the general metaethical perspective attitude among Kantians has been anti-realistic. In fact, Kant explicitly rejects attempts at grounding morality in anthropology (e.g. KrV B 869-870) or in sensible experience (MS, AA 6, 215, 217). Yet some scholars have recently challenged this interpretation , a number of thinkers of Kantian inclination in the recent past have tried to develop rather realistic frameworks for normative ethical theories and still others have criticized the presumed anti-naturalism of Kant’s thought in general .
Nonetheless, the appeal to the notion of nature is recurrent in many of Kant’s texts on ethics and it seems that, in a sense, a Kantian foundation of morality needs to define a meaning of nature which is connected with the basis of the normative power of practical reason and is implied in its structure. There is reason to think that the idea of natural law, which has been rather abandoned in the constructivistic interpretation, can be the starting point for a better interpretation of Kant’s ethical thought and for a consistent normative theory. In order to show the feasibility of this perspective I will first try to make clear the difference between the Kantian kind of appeal to nature and that implied, on the one hand, in contemporary «ethical naturalism» and, on the other, in traditional Aristotelian-Scholastic naturalism (classical naturalism). I will then take distance from the constructivistic interpretations of Kant’s ethical thought and try to show, rather briefly, the essential structure of what can be called a «realism of freedom», which is, I believe, the core of Kantian ethics. The idea of freedom as real and inscribed in the nature of practical reason is then recognized as the basis of morality, through the argument from the Fact of Reason.