CFP: W. H. Werkmeister and Southern North American Kant Society Study Group Conference

Submission deadline: February 28, 2023

Conference date(s):
April 28, 2023 - April 29, 2023

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Conference Venue:

Department of Philosophy, Florida State University
Tallahassee, United States

Topic areas



The department of philosophy at Florida State University, in partnership with SNAKS, is pleased to issue this call for papers for its spring conference, which will take place April 28-29 on FSU campus in Tallahassee, Florida. 

Invited speakers include: Mavis Biss (Loyola University), David O. Brink (University of California, San Diego), Melissa S. Fahmy (University of Georgia), Paul Guyer (Brown), Lawrence Pasternack (Oklahoma State University), and Jennifer K. Uleman (Purchase College).

Papers on all topics relevant to Kant’s moral philosophy are welcome, but at least one day of the conference will be devoted to the following special topic: 

Kant on Moral Perfectionism and Naturalism.

On the face of it, Kant rejects both moral perfectionism and moral naturalism. Moral perfectionism, he writes, while “better than the theological concept” in that it “removes the decision of the question [of right and wrong] from sensibility to the juridical court of pure reason,” is “empty” and so “useless”; moreover, because of this, it ultimately brings us back to the immoral principle of self-love. Moral naturalism, on the other hand, insofar as it is understood as equating moral facts with certain features of the empirical world, self-evidently contradicts, among other things, the sharp distinction between what is, and what ought to be.

And yet if we look a bit deeper, it soon becomes clear that neither issue can be so simply decided. Kant frequently speaks of “moral perfection” and of conformity to the moral law as the “perfection of freedom.” He also includes duties to both natural and moral perfection in the Metaphysics of Morals (6:444-446). Is this terminology merely superficial or does it indicate a link to the moral perfectionism of his predecessors? In a similar way, Kant constructs the three formulae of the moral law through “a certain analogy with nature,” refers to the moral world frequently as “supersensible nature” and just as often appeals to empirical nature’s purposes when deriving particular duties (most famously that forbidding suicide in the Groundwork, 4:421-4:22). The question then arises: Even if Kant rejects moral empiricism (or at least one form of it), does this mean that he rejects any form of moral naturalism?

This two-day conference has three aims, namely, (1) to answer the questions above by better understanding the relationship between the perfectionist and perhaps naturalistic tendencies in Kant’s moral thought and those that are generally regarded as anti-perfectionist and anti-naturalist, (2) to explore what light can be shed on other Kantian doctrines through such an approach, and (3) to clarify the relationship between moral perfectionism and moral (anti-)naturalism in Kant’s thought. 

All papers touching on these themes, as well as others in Kant’s practical philosophy, will be considered for presentation. Appropriate topics include, but are not limited to the following:

·         Kant’s relation to traditional forms of ‘perfectionism,’ ancient, medieval or modern (e.g. in Leibniz, Wolff or Baumgarten).

·         Kant’s interpretation of the ancient ethical rule ‘to live according to nature.’

·         The role of natural teleology in Kant’s derivation of certain duties.

·         The relation between ‘perfection’ and ‘nature’ in Kant or his predecessors.

·         The role of the analogy with ‘formal nature’ in Kant’s three formulae of the moral law, most particularly FLN, and/or in the Typic of Pure Practical Reason.

·         The connection between moral perfectionism and moral naturalism in Kant and his predecessors.

·         Kant and naturalism more broadly construed.

If submitting as a graduate student, please indicate such on your cover page. The best graduate student paper will receive a $200 stipend and be eligible for the Markus Herz Prize. 

Please submit abstracts (500 words max., excluding bibliography) with a cover sheet including your name, affiliation, and paper title to [email protected] by February 24, 2022.

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