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Lin, Cheng‐Hao (2019): The Ambiguity of Kant's Concept of the Highest Good: Finding the Correct Interpretation. In: Philosophical Forum, Vol. 50, No. 3: pp. 355-382 [PDF, 224kB]


The aim of this paper is to resolve the tension between Kant's doctrine of the highest good and his entire philosophical system. The concept of the highest good is the first major ambiguity of the doctrine. There are three pairs of ambiguities: immanent‐transcendent; justice‐perfection; and individual‐community. They are able to form eight combinations. Corresponding to the various combinations and conceptions of the highest good, interpreters also conceive different reasons for the necessity of the doctrine as well as various conditions of its applicability. For example, some emphasize its religious dimension, whereas others understand it in the political sense. In this paper, I adopt a different approach in understanding the highest good's systematic meaning as the moral confirmation, and suggest that only a transcendent, perfect and communal concept of the highest good can provide the most consistent doctrine. Additionally, it explains the importance of the different branches (such as philosophies of religion and of politics) of Kant's system.

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