Philosophy, Department of


Date of this Version



Southern Journal of Philosophy (1997) 36, Supplement: 73-77.


Copyright 1997, Wiley. Used by permission.


This is an interesting paper to me, among other reasons, because it deals with both halves of Kant’s Metaphysics of Morals; that fact alone also makes it somewhat unusual. It proposes in particular that there is a kind of analogy between conscience as an inner voice of morality and punishment as a provider of incentives against antisocial actions through punishment as deterrence.

As Hill points out, there has been quite a lot of discussion of Kant’s views on punishment, but not much about his views of conscience. Nevertheless, there remain scholarly puzzles about Kant’s views on punishment, and there is hope that we can learn something about Kant’s views on punishment by drawing out the comparisons with conscience, as well as learning more about conscience. Such comparisons help to make clearer than ever a fact about Kant’s theory of punishment that I think both Hill and I agree on and find worth emphasizing, viz., that Kant’s discussion of punishment is not simply a presentation of isolated moral intuitions about the deserts of felons, and the appropriate anger we direct toward malefactors. It is rather in a variety of ways embedded within, and very much an outcome of Kant’s general theory of morality.