Philosophy in the Contemporary World

Volume 1, Issue 1, Spring 1994

Lee F. Kerckhove
Pages 21-25

Moral Fanaticism and the Holocaust
A Defense of Kant Against Silber

I defend Kant’s moral psychology against John R. Silber’s argument that Kant cannot account for the radical evil of Hitler. Silber’s argument cannot be maintained, I argue, if Kant’s account of theological and moral fanaticism, and the personality of the moral fanatic, are taken into account. I contend that Kant’s writings support an analogy between the fanatical pursuit of religious and moral ideals and Hitler’s fanatical pursuit of an ideal of racial purity. I conclude that Kant’s account of moral fanaticism is adequate to account for the actions and moral psychology of Hitler.