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Hegel's Political PhilosophyA Systematic Reading of the Philosophy of Right$
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Thom Brooks

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780748625741

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748625741.001.0001

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(p.52) Chapter 4 Morality
Hegel's Political Philosophy

Thom Brooks

Edinburgh University Press

Hegel's views on morality have attracted much controversy, particularly with regard to his criticisms of Kant's moral theory. Famously, Hegel accused Kantian morality of being overly formalistic and lacking in content. Kant's defenders have argued that Hegel's criticisms fall wide of the mark, while Hegel's admirers, such as F. H. Bradley, claim his criticisms ‘annihilated’ Kant's theory. Both sides offer a compelling picture, and the debate between the two is seemingly intractable, with neither side willing to concede much ground. This chapter offers a new position on this old debate, beginning with an analysis of Hegel's peculiar understanding of morality and what it can achieve. It examines Hegel's uncharitable characterization of Kant's moral theory and why Hegel finds it unsatisfying. This discussion is followed by a revealing look at section 270 and its long remark in the Philosophy of Right, where Hegel discusses the relationship between religion and the state. The final section makes clear that Kant's general project, as commonly understood, can be accommodated in this part of Hegel's views.

Keywords:   Hegel, Kant, moral theory, Philosophy of Right, religion, state

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