Kantian Virtue at the Intersection of Politics and Nature

October 2004
178 pages
9x6 in
North American Kant Society Studies in Philosophy
ISBN: 9781580461788
Format: Paperback
University of Rochester Press
BISAC LIT004170, PHI005000, PHI013000

Kantian Virtue at the Intersection of Politics and Nature

The Vale of Soul-Making

Scott M. Roulier

An examination on how virtue is acquired in Kant's ethics.
In Kant's philosophy, virtue is defined as the moral strength or resolve to adopt obligatory ends and to act upon only those maxims that can apply equally to all. But how is virtue acquired? To answer this question, this project turns to Kant's moral anthropology, broadly conceived, in which he considers those "subjective conditions in human nature" that both facilitate and hinder the quest for virtue.Tailored to the specific constitution of human beings, then, are a number of moral-anthropological strategies for strengthening and promoting moral principles. Drawing on Kant's own discussions and the work of several contemporary interpreters this study identifies key approaches to character formation. The central concern of the project, however, is to investigate the roles Kant suggests the larger social-political and natural settings -- that is, the dynamic and inspiring contexts of natural beauty, law and political discourse -- play in the process of virtue acquisition.
The story of politics' and nature's influence on virtue acquisition leads into intriguing and, given traditional understandings of Kant, unexpected territory. This study also takes up the question of reciprocal relations: Once acquired, What support, if any, does virtue provide for politics and nature? With the goal of highlighting what may be valuable in a Kantian approach to the environment, the book assesses the workability of alternative ethical paradigms, e.g. bio- and ecocentric philosophies, and concludes that, while both schools of thought challenge anthropocentric assumptions in helpful ways, they are ultimately flawed. By engaging in this kind of critique, this study creates a plausibility structure for re-considering the merits of a Kantian approach.

Scott Roulier is Associate Professor of Political Science at Lyon College.

Table of Contents

Kant's Theory of Virtue and Its Acquisition
Promoting Virtue: Public Justice and Political Participation
Nature's Moral Influence: History, Beauty, and the Sublime
Shoring Up the Liberal State: Why Virtue Matters
Kantian Character and the Environment


This is a valuable book for seminars in philosophy, political science, ethics, law, and environmental science. GERMAN STUDIES REVIEW, 2006

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