Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Dr. Melissa Merritt - Chair

Second Advisor

Dr. Andrew Altman

Third Advisor

Dr. Andrew J. Cohen


Kant denies that evil qua evil can be an incentive to human beings. Is this a fact about what sorts of reasons human beings find interesting? Or, is it rooted entirely in Kant’s notion of human freedom? I focus on key facets of Kant’s system: human freedom, immorality and incentives. With an understanding of these concepts based in Christine Korsgaard’s reading of Kant’s moral theory, I argue that the impossibility of acting solely from evil qua evil is not rooted in human incentives and that if we were able to represent an unconditioned principle of immorality, we would have as powerful an incentive to act in accordance with it as we do to act in accordance with the categorical imperative. Finally, I argue that the impossibility of human beings’ having evil qua evil as an incentive is grounded in the limited nature of our positive conception of freedom.


Included in

Philosophy Commons