The necessity of respect in Kant's moral theory
: the role and ramifications of 'Achtung'

  • Lucy Carmel Richmond

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis (MPhil)


Within Kant’s moral theory, this at least is clear: without a capacity for a unique type of feeling - respect for the law (Achtung fürs Gesetz) - finite and imperfectly rational beings (such as human beings) would find themselves amoral: that is, they would be unable to commit morally valuable actions, and would be significantly restricted in their appreciation of what is morally valuable. For Kant, therefore, respect is essential to the very possibility of a morality accessible to and practicable for human beings. In the light of this necessity, I undertake a focused and detailed study of the various conceptions of respect which Kant depicts – namely, respect for law, respect for persons, the moral endowment of respect, and duties of respect. I argue that, for Kant, respect always has a moral ground and that, contrary to what is usually supposed, there is a reading of his philosophy under which his manifold concepts of Achtung can be reconciled. I aim to present a coherent picture of the nature, function, and ramifications of Kant’s respect in his conception of morality.
Date of Award2 Dec 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of St Andrews
SupervisorJens Timmermann (Supervisor)

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