The Moral Habitat

ISBN : 9780192896353

Barbara Herman
272 Pages
164 x 240 mm
Pub date
Oct 2021
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In The Moral Habitat, Barbara Herman offers a new and systematic interpretation of Kant's moral and political philosophy. The study begins with an investigation of some understudied imperfect duties which, surprisingly, tell us some important but generally unnoticed facts about what it is to be a moral agent. The second part of the book launches a substantial reinterpretation of Kant's ethics as a system of duties, juridical and ethical, perfect and imperfect, that can incorporate what we learn from imperfect duties and do much more. This system of duties provides the structure for what Herman calls a moral habitat: a made environment, created by and for free and equal persons living together. It is a dynamic system, with duties from different spheres shaping and being affected by each other, each level further interpreting its core anti-subordination value. In the final part, Herman takes up some implications and applications of this moral habitat idea. From considering what would be involved, morally, in recognizing a human right to housing to some meta-ethical issues about objectivity and our responsibility for moral change, we come to appreciate the resources of this holistic agent-centered Kantian view of morality.


PART ONE: Three Imperfect Duties
1 Framing the Question (What We Can Learn From Imperfect Duties)
2 Gratitude A System of Duties
3 Giving Impermissibility and Wrongness
4 Due Care The Importance of Motive
PART TWO: Kantian Resources
5 Making the Turn to Kant
6 The Kantian System of Duties
7 Kantian Imperfect Duties
8 Tracking Value and Extending Duties
PART THREE: Living in the Moral Habitat
9 A Dynamic System
10 A Right to Housing
11 Incompleteness and Moral Change
Conclusion: Method and Limits

About the author: 

Barbara Herman is the Griffin Professor of Philosophy at UCLA. She previously held appointments at the University of Southern California and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She is the author of The Practice of Moral Judgment (Harvard, 1993) and Moral Literacy (Harvard, 2007), and was the editor of John Rawls's Lectures on the History of Moral Philosophy (Harvard, 2000).

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