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International Philosophical Quarterly

Volume 57, Issue 2, June 2017

Ezequiel L. Posesorski
Pages 141-154
DOI: 10.5840/ipq201732784

Maimon’s Late Ethical Skepticism and the Rejection of Kant’s Notion of the Moral Law

This paper discusses a set of arguments launched in Salomon Maimon’s 1800 Der moralische Skeptiker against Kant’s notion of the moral law. Apart from being an almost overlooked chapter in the history of post-Kantian ethics, this work is one in which Maimon takes issue with four related aspects of the ethical thesis and methodology presented in Kant’s second Kritik. At the core of the discussion is Maimon’s emphasis on a major incongruity in the correlation of Kant’s notions of theoretical and practical reason: objectively valid statements in ethics should not qualitatively diverge from those in theoretical science. It is in this context that the paper discusses the late Maimonian thesis that Kant’s factual notion of the moral law cannot be reconciled with his notion of theoretical rigor. It also shows why, for Maimon, the highest principle of Kantian ethics should reveal itself to be theoretically untenable and dogmatic, and hence lead to skepticism.