The Kantian Good-Willed Agent and the World

  • Peter Herissone-Kelly
Part of the Studies in German Idealism book series (SIGI, volume 21)


I start this final chapter by summarising the main points of the book’s arguments so far. That done, I go on to offer a characterisation of Kant’s moral philosophy that emerges from those arguments. The primary implication of what I have said in the preceding chapters is that the problems of experiential incongruence and misdirected moral attention do not genuinely adhere to Kant’s model of rational agency, and so to his moral philosophy, at all. However, what also comes into focus is a novel picture of the sort of relationship that the Kantian good-willed agent has to the world, and one that is a good deal more palatable than that associated with more traditional interpretations of Kant. I draw a surprising parallel between Kant’s good-willed agent, and the account of a good person to be found in Iris Murdoch’s writings on ethics, a parallel made all the more striking by the fact that Murdoch explicitly sets up as her position in contrast with that of Kant (amongst others). I finish by drawing attention to a number of questions raised by my interpretation of Kant, and suggesting some fruitful avenues for future work in the area.


  1. Kant, Immanuel. 1996b. Religion within the Boundaries of Mere Reason. In Religion and Rational Theology, ed. and trans. A.W. Wood and G. di Giovanni. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  2. ———. 2007. Anthropology from a Pragmatic Point of View. In Anthropology, History, and Education. Ed. G. Zöller and R. B. Louden, Trans. R.B. Louden. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Murdoch, Iris. 1970a. The Sovereignty of Good Over Other Concepts. In The Sovereignty of Good, 77–104. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.Google Scholar
  4. ———. 1970b. On ‘God’ and ‘Good’. In The Sovereignty of Good, 46–76. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.Google Scholar
  5. ———. 1987. Above the Gods: A Dialogue About Religion. In Acastos: Two Platonic Dialogues, 67–131. London: Penguin.Google Scholar
  6. ———. 2003. Metaphysics as a Guide to Morals. London: Vintage.Google Scholar
  7. O’Neill, Onora. 1989. Action, Anthropology and Autonomy. In Constructions of Reason: Explorations of Kant’s Practical Philosophy, 126–144. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Reid, James. 2004. Morality and Sensibility in Kant: Toward a Theory of Virtue. Kantian Review 8: 89–114.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Taylor, Gabriele. 2006. Deadly Vices. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Wilson, A.N. 2004. Iris Murdoch as I Knew Her. London: Arrow.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter Herissone-Kelly
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Humanities and the Social SciencesUniversity of Central LancashirePrestonUK

Personalised recommendations