- Martin Fleitas (Universidad de la República - Uruguay), "Notes for a normative-constitutivist approach to the problem of happiness in Kantian ethics"
November 29, CAN Room 209 | 14h00 - 16h00
It is well-known that Kantian ethics maintains several asperities with hedonic (physical or empirical) happiness. In particular, because Kant did not believe that this type of happiness could become a reliable practical guide for the exercise of morality, despite the assumption, as obvious as it may seem, that human beings naturally pursue happiness. Thus, the notion remains conceptually indeterminate: hedonic happiness is an ideal of imagination (and not of reason) defined as “an absolute whole, a maximum of welfare, is required, in my present and in every future condition” (GMS 418), and it allows people to develop a diverse conception of what must be satisfied, and how to do it. Although Kant did not deny the fact that the pursuit of happiness is “a mandate” of reason” (KpV 61), he did not believe that reason could reach such a diffused end, and dependent on the hospitality of nature and other human beings (KU 433). For this reason, he decided to incorporate happiness into his ethical system under intellectual forms, that is, not empirical ones, known as “happiness as merit” (KrV A 809 / B 837) and “moral happiness” (MS 387-388). In this context, my presentation intends to suggest that the moral difficulties that the hedonic happiness causes into the Kantian ethical system could rest on the belief that there is a kind of cognitive irreversibility inherent in the moral perspective that harbours both intellectual versions of happiness. To articulate this suggestion we have to navigate the contemporary discussions that, were built around the sources of moral normativity of Kantian ethics (between projectivism, detectivism and constitutivism) and prove why a constitutive normative approach might be the best option to address the problem of happiness.
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