[SydPhil] University of Sydney Postgraduate Colloquium Sep 10

Tama Coutts Iliketora at rocketmail.com
Fri Sep 7 17:37:01 AEST 2012

Hey All,

The details for our sixth talk of semester two follow. All are welcome.

Speaker: Brenton Dart

Title: Morality and Power in the Kingdom of Ends.
Kant’s moral theory is not an isolated set of rules, but a system of laws; laws indeed of universal rational freedom. Thus Kant’s ethics involves a certain political vision, which he calls the Kingdom of Ends (KoE). It is a community where the foundations of its existence are laid down by the rational agreement of all its members. In the 20th century this vision for a political community was adopted by Habermas and Rawls. The intention of both Habermas and Rawls is clear; both want to give real critical content to the KoE so that it can be effectively operationalised in the service of justice. For both of them – just as for Hegel – Kant’s own specification through the categorical imperative ("Act so that the maxim [determining motive of the will] may be capable of becoming a universal law for all rational beings") was so formalistic as to threaten to let anything or nothing through. Just in this form it could not truly claim to “measure the
 gap between reality and the ideal”. I will contend that while the essential aspect of Habermas and Rawls is the attempt to overcome the moral formalism of Kant’s approach; in their separate ways, they both failed to do so. Subsequently, my intention is to present a less abstract and more realistic way of thinking about justice and politics; ways we will find, in the works of Raymond Geuss and Bernard Williams. Both these thinkers claim that the values embedded in Kant’s KoE have, in fact, a real, concrete and material basis, and that the task is to uncover this basis in history and practice.   

Talk Details:
Time: 3pm, Mon Sep 10

Location: Philosophy common-room, quadrangle building, University of Sydney
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