Onora O'Neill

in The Oxford Handbook of Rationality

Published in print February 2004 | ISBN: 9780195145397
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

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Kant is famous for undertaking a critique of reason and for calling two of his most significant works critiques of reason. These titles raise suspicions. Kant's attempt to give an account of practical reason that offers unconditional reasons for action and provides the basis for a reasoned account of human duties is spectacularly ambitious; even if it fails in some ways it is worth the closest attention. The central concern of this article is to explicate Kant's account of how one could have unconditional practical reasons to do as morality requires. Unconditional practical reasons are those not based upon arbitrarily chosen ends. This article argues that Kant's proposal is that what makes a practical reason unconditional is its universal recognizability. An unconditional practical reason is one that can be seen to be a reason for action by any rational audience—its appeal relies on no parochial concerns.

Keywords: Kant; critiques of reason; human duties; morality; rational audience

Article.  7788 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; History of Western Philosophy

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