Uniting right and duty: Hegel's critical appropriation of Kant's Metaphysics of Morals
Farkas, Sarah Elizabeth
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Both Kant and Hegel were concerned with the possibility of unifying the notions of right and duty within an overarching ethical theory. Kant's Metaphysics of Morals (MdS ) is a paradigmatic example of a failed attempt at this kind of unification. Hegel's Philosophy of Right (PR ), it is argued, both inherits and overcomes the problems inherent in Kant's work. This dissertation, with its emphasis on the importance of connecting right and duty in a systematic ethics, provides a new critique of the MdS and an account of the PR as putting forth an ethics that corresponds to the actual motivational structure of moral agents. Chapter One demonstrates that Kant's attempt to unify the concepts of right and duty in the MdS fails. It is argued here that Kant grounds the concept of right within his moral framework and thus absorbs right entirely into his ethics. Chapter Two addresses early Hegelian sources that seriously engage Kant's MdS . Emphasis is placed upon the way in which the concern of Hegel's project in the PR , the unification of right and duty, is present in his earliest work and the fact that the narrative that Hegel puts forth is a direct reading of and response to Kant's MdS . Chapter Three treats the realms of abstract right and morality that Hegel constructs in the PR with a focus on how Hegel both appropriates the structure of MdS and levels an implicit critique at Kant. This chapter pays special attention to the way in which Hegel ensures the distinction between right and morality while binding them together inextricably. Chapter Four concludes that what can be gained through Hegel's successful integration of right and duty lies in his "right of subjective satisfaction," the right of the subject to find her satisfaction in whatever action she may be obligated to perform. In this way, right and duty become united within the subject, and as a result she has a right to identify with her actions in order to truly consider herself a free agent.
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