2021 Australasian Association of Philosophy Conference: Kant on Justice in Ethics by Toshiro Osawa

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Kant’s concept of justice has been discussed within the domain of political philosophy. Yet, little attention has been paid to what bearing this concept has on Kant’s ethics. Or at best, previous scholarship has considered justice ambiguously in the mixture of political and ethical terms (O’Neill 2004; Vogt 2008). Part of this ambiguity is owed to Kant himself: Kant discusses justice mostly in his political writings; Kant also sharply separates justice from virtue that Kant deals with within the domain of ethics. I argue that justice, which Kant conceives of in the traditional sense he received from his predecessors, namely the principle of not taking what is mine or yours, operates implicitly yet sturdily in Kant’s ethics, since he received the notion of “what is his ethically” (suum ethicum) from Alexander Gottlieb Baumgarten and transposed it into his ethics, particularly when Kant discusses envy, ingratitude, and malice. (Baumgarten also calls suum ethicum internal justice (iustitia interna).) After defending my argument, this paper concludes by evaluating the implications of my argument for the long-standing debate over whether right precedes virtue or vice versa for Kant (Guyer 2002; Willaschek 2002; Willaschek 2009; Willaschek 2012; Baiasu 2016; Guyer 2016; Wood 2018).
Period14 Jul 2021