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Hegel’s theory of moral action, its place in his system and the ’highest’ right of the subject

Lookup NU author(s): Professor David RoseORCiD



There is at present, amongst Hegel scholars and in the interpretative discussions of Hegel's social and political theories, the flavour of old-style 'apology' for his liberal credentials, as though there exists a real need to prove he holds basic liberal views palatable to the hegemonic, contemporary political worldview. Such an approach is no doubt motivated by the need to reconstruct what is left of the modern moral conscience when Hegel has finished discussing the flaws and contradictions of the Kantian model of moral judgement. The main claim made in the following pages is that the critique of ‘subjective’ moralities is neither the sole nor even the main reason for the adoption of an immanent doctrine of ethics. This paper will look to Hegel’s mature theory of action as motivating the critique of transcendentalism rather than merely filling in the hole left when one rejects Kant and it will discuss what the consequences of this approach are for the role of the moral conscience within the political sphere, arguing that Hegel’s own conditions of free action would not be met unless the subjective moral conscience was operative in the rational state.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Rose D

Editor(s): Ashton, P; Nicolacopoulos, T; and Vassilacopoulos, G

Publication type: Book Chapter

Publication status: Published

Book Title: The Spirit of the Age: Hegel and the Fate of Thinking

Year: 2008

Pages: 52-71


Place Published: Melbourrne

Library holdings: Search Newcastle University Library for this item

ISBN: 9780980305265