Thursday, September 19, 2019

Cultural Differentiation and Moral Orientation: Taking an Interest in H

Cultural Differentiation and Moral Orientation In contrast with his major ethical works, Kant’s writings on history are replete with the theme of the social character of moral development and the interdependence of individual and community. I argue that historical-moral progress is an important part of Kant’s comprehensive ethical theory. However, in order to link the moral goals of humanity with the moral goals of individuals, judgement must have a dimension that can apprehend the purposiveness of those human achievements which are social in their significance and socially transmitted. In other words, such achievements transcend individual intention. The ‘historical signs’ of such moral purposiveness provide moral orientation through the conflicting claims that arise within and between complex and historically evolving human communities. I explore the role of disinterested judgement in providing this orientation and in marking the moral disposition of the species. In contrast with his major ethical works, Kant’s writings on history are replete with the theme of the social character of moral development and the interdependence of individual and community. Assuming for the moment that in some fundamental sense, moral decision making is an individual matter, how does the social context of human life affect morality? In particular what is the significance of the fact that our social structures are constituted over time? The thesis of this paper is that Kant's view on the nature of historical-moral progress is an important part of his comprehensive ethical theory. It sets the rational basis for the individual's moral obligation to promote the highest good by providing a moral orientation to guide her through the conflicting clai... ...al change is that while we can adjust our judgments concerning the culpability of past agents to their differing conditions, we cannot reverse or relativize our conception of what is right. (23) Kant, Immanuel, "An Old Question Raised Again", translated by Robert E. Anchor, in On History, op. cit., p. 144 (85). (24) Kant, Immnauel, "What is Enlightenment", translated by Lewis White Beck, in On History, op. cit., pp.4-5 In discussing the differences between the public and private uses of reason Kant makes reference to the possibility that on some occasions the individual will take the point of view of "a society of world citizens" . Thus, the appropriate public can be extended across national boundaries as well as across time. (25) Kant, Immnauel, "Idea for a Universal History", translated by Lewis White Beck, in On History, op cit., p. 24 (30), footnote 7.

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