Another Look at Kant and Degrees of Responsibility

Patrick Frierson


In “Kant and Degrees of Responsibility,” Joe Saunders claims that “Degrees of responsibility are important for both our moral and legal practices” (p. 1) and argues that “transcendental idealism precludes Kant from vindicating these judgments [about degrees of responsibility]” (p. 11); thus, we have reasons to reject Kant’s transcendental idealism.  In this paper, I show how Kant’s transcendental idealism can accommodate and provide a metaphysical account for degrees of responsibility.  Whether this “vindicates” such judgments depends upon how much one expects a philosophical account to do; I defend modesty there while admitting a reasonable desire for reflection on how we can and should make such judgments.  Finally, I raise the question of just how important judgments of moral responsibility are.  Rather than looking to metaphysics to figure out how to vindicate judgments about degrees of responsibility, I suggest we look to the practical purposes such judgments serve. 

Palabras clave

Kant; Freedom; Responsibility; Transcendental Idealism

Texto completo:



Allais, L. (2015) Manifest Reality: Kant's Idealism and His Realism. Oxford University Press.

Ameriks, K. (2000) Kant and the Fate of Autonomy. Cambridge University Press.

Frierson, P. (2003) Freedom and Anthropology in Kant's Moral Philosophy. Cambridge University Press.

Frierson, P. (2010) "Two Standpoints and the Problem of Moral Anthropology," in Kant's Moral Metaphysics (ed. James Krueger and Benjamin Lipscomb), Berlin: Walter deGruyter Press, pp. 83-110.

Frierson, P. (2013) Kant's Questions: What is the Human Being? Routledge.

Frierson, P. (2014) Kant's Empirical Psychology. Cambridge University Press.

Grenberg, J. (2013) Kant's Defense of Common Moral Experience: A phenomenological account. Cambridge University Press.

Pippin, R. (2008) Hegel's Practical Philosophy: Rational Agency as Ethical Life. Cambridge University Press.

Saunders, J. (2018) "Kant and Degrees of Responsibility," in Journal of Applied Philosophy.


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