The Moral-Psychology of the Common Agent: A Reply to Ido Geiger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Ido Geiger’s paper ‘What it is the Use of the Universal Law Formula of the Categorical Imperative?’ is part of a growing trend in Kant scholarship, which stresses the significance of the rational competence of ordinary human beings. I argue that this approach needs to take into account that the common agent is an active reasoner who has the means to find out what she ought to do. The purpose of my paper is to show how universality already figures in the active reasoning of pre-theoretical agents in the form of a common universalization test. I present textual evidence for this test, and argue that this conception does not present pre-theoretical moral cognition in an overly intellectualistic or mechanistic way. Finally, I discuss how, on the pre-theoretical level, universalization relates to humanity or a rational agent’s special status. Universalization is present to common agents in the form of procedures or questions that we ask ourselves, humanity as an awareness of certain particularly blatant violations of duty. These two different modes of cognition of duty are reflected in two different formulae of the Categorical Imperative.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)976-89
Number of pages13
JournalBritish Journal of the History of Philosophy
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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