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Salomon Maimon, “The Moral Skeptic,” Berlinisches Archiv der Zeit und ihres Geschmacks 2 (1800), 271–292

from IV - Freedom and Skepticism

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 March 2022

Edited and translated by
Jörg Noller
Affiliation:
Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munchen
John Walsh
Affiliation:
Martin Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg, Germany
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Summary

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.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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