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Idealistic Studies

Volume 46, Issue 1, Spring 2016

Martin Sticker
Pages 41-64

Experiments in Ethics?
Kant on Chemistry and Practical Philosophy

I discuss two puzzling and neglected passages in the Critique of Practical Reason, namely, V:92 and V:163. In these passages Kant claims that practical philosophers should follow the paradigm of the chemist and conduct experiments on common human reason. I explain Kant’s conception of the chemical experiment, provide a detailed interpretation of the two passages in question, and conclude by applying the structure of the chemical experiment to the Analytic of the Critique of Practical Reason. Chemical experiments as a model of ethics should be understood as a method of confirming that a philosophical theory systematizes and defends ideas that ordinary rational agents are already committed to.

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