This book provides a new interpretation of the ethical theory of G.W.F. Hegel. The aim is not only to give a new interpretation for specialists in German Idealism, but also to provide an analysis that makes Hegel’s ethics accessible for all scholars working in ethical and political philosophy. While Hegel’s political philosophy has received a good deal of attention in the literature, the core of his ethics has eluded careful exposition, in large part because it is contained in his claims about conscience. This book shows that, contrary to accepted wisdom, conscience is the central concept for understanding Hegel’s view of practical reason and therefore for understanding his ethics as a whole. The argument combines careful exegesis of key passages in Hegel’s texts with detailed treatments of problems in contemporary ethics and reconstructions of Hegel’s answers to those problems. The main goals are to render comprehensible Hegel’s notoriously difficult texts by framing arguments with debates in contemporary ethics, and to show that Hegel still has much to teach us about the issues that matter to us most. Central topics covered in the book are the connection of self-consciousness and agency, the relation of motivating and justifying reasons, moral deliberation and the holism of moral reasoning, mutual recognition, and the rationality of social institutions.
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