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Kant & Post-Kantian Philosophy Group Talk and Workshop (Lawrence Pasternack, Oklahoma State)

Friday September 29, 2023, 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm

The Kant & Post-Kantian Philosophy Group is delighted to welcome as a speaker Lawrence Pasternack, a professor of Philosophy at the Oklahoma State University. Most of his work focuses on Kant, with publications across his ethical theory, epistemology, and philosophy of religion. Dr. Pasternack’s first book, Kant’s Religion within the Boundaries of Mere Reason: An Interpretation and Defense, was published by Routledge in 2014.

Talk Title

Kant’s Doctrine of the Highest Good: An Interpretation and Defense

Talk Abstract

This book (currently in rough-draft form) develops an interpretation of Kant’s doctrine of the Highest Good which closely follows the actual texts where it is discussed.  As such, a key hermeneutical principle for the book is that Kant means what he says/says what he means with respect to the Highest Good, and that we can come to an understanding of it that, contrary to the prevailing views, does not have to navigate through alleged textual “flip-flops” or major lacunae.

Moreover, it is argued that Kant’s conception of the Highest Good does not significantly change during the Critical period.  For example, he never abandons the postulate of immortality nor repurposes it in favor of a later “this-worldly” interpretation.  It is thus argued that the “this-worldly” interpretation of the Highest Good is a consequence of certain misreadings from the 1980s which subsequently came to dominate the secondary literature.   Likewise, it is argued that the Highest Good is not a pre-Critical atavism that Kant should have given up, nor is it otherwise superfluous to his mature thought.

With respect to the function of the Highest Good, it is argued that while the Groundwork and the second Critique’s Analytic provide an “episodic” account of moral willing (for any instance, we can set aside our inclination and act from duty), there is also a need for a principled and prospective solution to the ongoing conflict between morality and happiness.  This, in short, is the role Kant assigns to the Highest Good.  It is the “unconditioned totality of the object of pure practical reason,” (5:108) meaning that it brings together the heterogeneous practical principles of morality and happiness, which, if left discordant, leaves the moral agent in jeopardy of the sort expressed most vividly by Kant in the third Critique’s example of the Righteous Atheist.

Accordingly, this book argues that Kant’s treatment of the Highest Good in all three Critiques, in the Religion, and elsewhere, all speak to the same need: to foster a moral “resolve” (A813/B841), an “immutable resolution” (5:123) so as to endure in life what otherwise may “weaken the respect by which the moral law immediately influences” or do “damage to the moral disposition” (5:452).

This is a read-ahead event. Please email Dave Suarez to register and receive the required readings.

The Kant & Post-Kantian Philosophy Group is a a subgroup of the History of Philosophy Research Group, which focuses on European philosophy in Kant and post-Kantian traditions.



Friday September 29, 2023
3:00 pm - 5:00 pm
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David Suarez


Jackman Humanities Building, Room 418
170 St. George Street
Toronto, Ontario M5R 2M8 Canada
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