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Type: Theses
Title: Adam Smith in Immanuel Kant’s moral philosophy
Author: Richardson, Guy
Issue Date: 2018
School/Discipline: School of Social Sciences
Abstract: In The Theory of Moral Sentiments Adam Smith develops a moral philosophy that uses a psychological idiom to describe morality as a social practice. This description of morality goes entirely against the moral metaphysics Immanuel Kant develops in works like his Groundwork and the second Critique, which describe morality as a ‘fact of reason’ and the categorical imperatives of an ahistorical moral will. Despite this stark contrast, in 1771 Kant was recorded praising Smith’s work. This thesis explains Kant’s praise by developing an original interpretation of the relationship between the two thinkers. First, the two thinkers are situated as representing two divergent streams of Western thought to illustrate the scope of their philosophical antagonism. Second, the existing interpretations of the Kant-Smith relationship are critiqued for ignoring or downplaying this antagonism. Third, an original study of Kant’s intellectual development is presented that shows how Smith’s descriptions of morality and politics may have influenced Kant’s moral and political philosophy. While developing its new interpretation of the Kant-Smith relationship this thesis raises some new exegetical questions and problems that are intended be of interest not only for Kant scholars but political philosophers in general. Drawing upon my interpretation of Kant’s transcendental project, John Rawls’ use of Kant’s theory of moral reason to justify his own theory’s claims to universality is critiqued. Similarly, in light of Smith’s possible influence upon Kant, the idea that Kant’s political cosmopolitanism is grounded on rationally justifiable rights is called into question. Finally, this thesis challenges Kant’s traditional classification as a pillar of explicitly normative and prescriptive political and moral philosophy. The thesis seeks to do this by showing how Kant ultimately naturalises morality and politics into historical practices that are describable without reference to first principles.
Advisor: Beasley, Christine
Dissertation Note: Thesis (Ph.D.) -- University of Adelaide, School of Social Sciences, 2018.
Keywords: Kant
Adam Smith
moral philosophy
anthropology
history of science
teleology
Provenance: This electronic version is made publicly available by the University of Adelaide in accordance with its open access policy for student theses. Copyright in this thesis remains with the author. This thesis may incorporate third party material which has been used by the author pursuant to Fair Dealing exceptions. If you are the owner of any included third party copyright material you wish to be removed from this electronic version, please complete the take down form located at: http://www.adelaide.edu.au/legals
DOI: 10.4225/55/5b31953519f70
Appears in Collections:Research Theses

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