This study is concerned with the historical background and systematic meaning of Kant’s moral ontology. Although the importance of this theme for an adequate understanding of Kant’s philosophy stands beyond doubt, it has received only the scantest attention. Yet, the aim of this dissertation is not just to fill a gap in the existing literature, but also to make a new and well-argued contribution to the interpretation of Kant’s ethics. As contrasted with the “classical” reading, which makes up for the identification of Kantian moral theory with the doctrine of the categorical imperative, the present interpretation emphasizes the phenomenon of concrete moral experience, that has been marked in the second Critique as a “fact of reason”. Our operative assumption is that the distinction between the conception of the specific practical character of moral experience and the formal doctrine of the categorical imperative can be reduced to a more basic distinction, namely the contrast between an ontological and a transcendental way of viewing reality. Thus, the resolution of the conflict between ontology and transcendental philosophy, that defines the inner development of Kant’s thinking, becomes of central significance for the understanding of his moral theory. Our analysis shows that the pre-critical ontology, while losing its central function in the critical period, acquires a new and dominating position in the post-critical writings. The outcome of this reconstruction is twofold. Not only can the traditional interpre¬tation of Kantian ethics no longer be upheld, but at the same time a strong case can be made for the concept of concrete moral experience as the central tenet of Kant’s mature ethical thinking.

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Erasmus University Rotterdam
Wal, Prof. Dr. G.A. van der (promotor)
Erasmus School of Philosophy

Noordraven, A.A. (2005, October 20). Kants morele ontologie: historische oorsprong en systematische betekenis. Erasmus University Rotterdam. Retrieved from