Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: Radical evil, freedom and moral self-development in Kant's practical philosophy
Author: Alam, Justin Shumon
ISNI:       0000 0004 2706 1604
Awarding Body: University of Bristol
Current Institution: University of Bristol
Date of Award: 2011
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Access from Institution:
Kant remains an important resource in moral philosophy but the absence of an adequate account of moral self-development constitutes a serious gap in his wider moral theory. This study therefore seeks to illuminate the process through which an agent could develop his moral character within a Kantian framework. Firstly, I reject two interpretations of Kant's account of rational agency each of which, if true, would in its own way render moral development impossible. I also outline the interpretation of Kantian rational agency which I take to be correct and which allows development. Kant thinks development should address our radical evil - an attitude to choice which rejects the demands of the moral law. However, there are tensions in the doctrine of evil which seem to preclude an evil agent's initiating his moral development. I adopt Seiriol Morgan's rational reconstruction of evil which addresses these difficulties. In Morgan's model, the will's freedom gives it overriding reason to choose morality, as this affords it its true freedom and it knows this. This means the will which chooses evil must wilfully accept a false conception of freedom - it must be self-deceived at the most fundamental level of reason-giving. However, self-deception is prima facie paradoxical. This is addressed by applying Jean-Paul Sartre's model of bad faith, an account which can dissolve the paradoxes. What emerges is a picture of evil as a mutually supporting complex of elements involving selfishness, self-conceit and a refusal to acknowledge its own misguided attitude. This is the opponent for morality. Development involves undoing this structure through consciousness of true freedom and pursuing the ends of development such as the purification of motives, whilst remaining vigilant against further deception. In this way, the free will can acquire a character apt to express its full freedom
Supervisor: Morgan, Seiriol Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available