Monday, December 05, 2005

Kant and the Ethics of Humility

Jeanine Grenberg, Kant and the Ethics of Humility, Cambridge University Press, 2005, 289 pp, $75.00 (hbk), ISBN 0521846811.

Reviewed by Patrick Frierson, Whitman College

Jeanine Grenberg's Kant and the Ethics of Humility sets out to explain and defend a distinctively Kantian conception of humility as "that meta-attitude which constitutes the moral agent's proper perspective on herself as a dependent and corrupt but capable and dignified rational agent" (133). But Grenberg not only explains what humility might mean for Kant. She seeks, first, to defend Kant's notion of humility against contemporary accounts of (and objections to) humility as a virtue: "while the book is . . . guided by [Kant's] picture of humility . . . the overall intent is to defend philosophically the view that humility remains a virtue, and indeed a central virtue" (7). Secondly, Grenberg uses humility to illustrate how one might develop a robust Kantian virtue ethics (chs. 2-3). Grenberg challenges Kantians to give humility more prominence, and she shows how central moral categories that might seem too "thick" can play fundamental roles within a Kantian ethic (cf. 7, 80-103). Read the full review Here.

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