Published online by Cambridge University Press: 24 March 2022
Salomon Maimon argues in “The Moral Skeptic” (1800) that Kant’s conception of freedom as the capacity of the power of choice to be determined by reason independently of sensible determinations is an empty concept, or, as Maimon puts it, a “term without a concept.” He holds that a determinate capacity is inconceivable without laws through which its efficacy is invariably determined. Although we might conceive of laws of nature as the determining ground of immoral action and the moral law as the determining ground of moral action, there is no law to determine which of these two opposed grounds is to become the determining ground of action in a given case. Thus, the actual determination of the power of choice would be left to chance, which is absurd since chance indicates the lack of a determining ground. Maimon’s critique is embedded in a broader treatment of the difference between the moral skeptic and the moral dogmatist in view of the Critical philosophy.