Roz and Ralph Halbert Fund in Jewish Studies
Karin Nisenbaum (Syracuse University)
"Getting to the Root of Evil: Kant and Fichte on the Murderer at the Door"
This event is co-sponsored by the Department of Philosophy.
Kant and Fichte are both rigorists with regard to the duty of truthfulness: they believe that lying is wrong in any circumstance and the duty of truthfulness does not admit of exceptions. However, in this paper I argue that their tendency towards rigorism stems from different commitments. Kant’s rigorism goes hand-in-hand with his egalitarianism; by contrast, Fichte’s rigorism goes hand-in-hand with his perfectionism. This difference has important implications for how we deal with evil: far from leaving us “powerless in the face of evil,"* Fichte’s uncompromising defense of the duty of truthfulness aims to get to the root of evil.
*Christine Korsgaard has argued that one of the problems with Kant’s “rigorism” is that it seems to leave us “powerless” in the face of evil. Christine Korsgaard, “The Right to Lie: Kant on Dealing with Evil,” Philosophy and Public Affairs 15, no. 5 (1986): 328-349.
Karin Nisenbaum is the Renee Crown Professor in the Humanities and Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Syracuse University, where she is also affiliated with the Jewish Studies Program. She has taught at Boston College, Colgate University, and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Her research focuses on topics at the intersection of metaphysics and ethics in Kant, post-Kantian German Idealism, and 19th and 20th Century Jewish Thought. Her book, For the Love of Metaphysics: Nihilism and the Conflict of Reason from Kant to Rosenzweig was published by Oxford University Press in 2018. She has also published several articles in venues such as the Journal of the History of Philosophy and the European Journal of Philosophy. Currently she is working on a monograph on moral perfectionism and the highest good in Kant and post-Kantian German Idealism.
This lecture will be delivered virtually via Zoom. To attend virtually, please click THIS LINK on Monday, January 16, at 4 PM.