Skip to main content Accessibility help

Practical Reason and Respect for Persons

  • Melissa McBay Merritt (a1)


My project is to reconsider the Kantian conception of practical reason. Some Kantians take practical reasoning to be more active than theoretical reasoning, on the grounds that it need not contend with what is there anyway, independently of its exercise. Behind that claim stands the thesis that practical reason is essentially efficacious. I accept the efficacy principle, but deny that it underwrites this conception of practical reason. My inquiry takes place against the background of recent Kantian metaethical debate — each side of which, I argue, points to issues that need to be jointly accommodated in the account of practical reason. From the constructivist, I accept the essential efficacy of practical reason; from the realist, I accept that any genuinely cognitive exercise of practical reason owes allegiance to what is there anyway, independently of its exercise. I conclude that a Kantian account of recognition respect enables us to accommodate both claims.


Corresponding author


Hide All
Bojanowski, Jochen (2012) ‘Is Kant a Moral Realist?Kant Yearbook, 4, 122.
Brewer, Talbot (2010) ‘Two Pictures of Practical Thinking’. In Lawrence Jost and Julian Wuerth (eds), Perfecting Virtue: New Essays on Kantian Ethics and Virtue Ethics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), pp. 116146.
Church, Jennifer (2013) Possibilities of Perception. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Darwall, Stephen (1977) ‘Two Kinds of Respect’. Ethics, 88, 3649.
Darwall, Stephen (2008) ‘Kant on Respect, Dignity, and the Duty of Respect’. In Monika Betzler (ed.), Kant’s Ethics of Virtue (Berlin: de Gruyter), pp. 175200.
Elizondo, E. Sonny (2013) ‘Reason in its Practical Application’. Philosophers’ Imprint, 13, 117.
Engstrom, Stephen (2009) The Form of Practical Knowledge: A Study of the Categorical Imperative. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Engstrom, Stephen (2012) ‘Bringing Practical Knowledge into View: Response to Bagnoli, Hill and Reath’. Analytic Philosophy, 53, 8997.
Engstrom, Stephen (2013) ‘Constructivism and Practical Knowledge’. In Carla Bagnoli (ed.), Constructivism in Ethics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), pp. 133154.
Formosa, Paul (2013) ‘Is Kant a Moral Constructivist or a Moral Realist?European Journal of Philosophy, 21, 170196.
Galvin, Richard (2011) ‘Rounding up the Usual Suspects: Varieties of Kantian Constructivism in Ethics’. Philosophical Quarterly, 61, 1636.
Gaut, Berys (1997) ‘The Structure of Practical Reason’. In Garrett Cullity and Berys Gaut (eds), Ethics and Practical Reason (Oxford: Clarendon Press), pp. 161188.
Geiger, Ido (2011) ‘Rational Feelings and Moral Agency’. Kantian Review, 16, 283308.
Guyer, Paul (1998) ‘The Value of Reason and the Value of Freedom’. Ethics, 109, 2235.
Guyer, Paul (2000) ‘Kant’s Morality of Law and Morality of Freedom’. In Kant on Freedom, Law, and Happiness (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), pp. 129171.
Herman, Barbara (1993) The Practice of Moral Judgment. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Herman, Barbara (2007) Moral Literacy. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Hill, Thomas E. (1989) ‘Kant’s Theory of Practical Reason’. Monist, 72, 363383.
Hills, Allison (2008) ‘Kantian Value Realism’. Ratio, 21, 182200.
Johnson, Robert N. (2007) ‘Value and Autonomy in Kantian Ethics’. Oxford Studies in Metaethics, 2, 133148.
Kain, Patrick (2006) ‘Realism and Anti-Realism in Kant’s Second Critique ’. Philosophy Compass, 1, 449465.
Kant, Immanuel (1900–) Kants Gesammelte Schriften, 29 vols. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter (and predecessors).
Kant, Immanuel (1996) Practical Philosophy. Trans. and ed. Mary J. Gregor. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Korsgaard, Christine (1996a) Sources of Normativity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Korsgaard, Christine (1996b) Creating the Kingdom of Ends. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Korsgaard, Christine (2008) The Constitution of Agency. New York: Oxford University Press.
Korsgaard, Christine (2009) Self-Constitution: Agency, Identity, Integrity. New York: Oxford University Press.
Langton, Rae (2007) ‘Objective and Unconditioned Value’. Philosophical Review, 116, 157185.
Rauscher, Frederick (2002) ‘Kant’s Moral Anti-Realism’. Journal of the History of Philosophy, 40, 477499.
Rawls, John (2005) Political Liberalism (expanded edition). New York: Columbia University Press.
Regan, Donald (2002) ‘The Value of Rational Nature’. Ethics, 112, 267291.
Sayre-McCord, Geoffrey (1988) ‘Introduction: The Many Moral Realisms’. In Geoffrey Sayre-McCord (ed.), Essays on Moral Realism (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press), pp. 126.
Stern, Robert (2012) Understanding Moral Obligation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Timmerman, Jens (2006) ‘Value without Regress: Kant’s “Formula of Humanity” Revisited’. European Journal of Philosophy, 14, 6993.
Watkins, Eric, and William, FitzPatrick (2002) ‘O’Neill and Korsgaard on the Construction of Normativity’. Journal of Value Inquiry, 36, 349367.
Wilson, Eric (2013) ‘Kant on Autonomy and the Value of Persons’. Kantian Review, 18, 241262.
Wood, Allen (2008) Kantian Ethics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Practical Reason and Respect for Persons

  • Melissa McBay Merritt (a1)


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed