Date of Award

Summer 8-1-2013

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Eric Entrican Wilson

Second Advisor

Andrew Jason Cohen

Third Advisor

Andrew I. Cohen


In The Metaphysics of Morals, Kant claims that “the first command” of all self-regarding duties is to know our “heart.” Kant ostensibly identifies our heart with our moral disposition. Strangely, this appears to be precisely the sort of knowledge that, elsewhere, Kant claims is epistemically inaccessible to us. While the more sophisticated attempts to resolve this difficulty succeed in situating an injunction to know the quality of one’s disposition within a Kantian epistemic framework, no account is wholly successful in explaining why Kant takes self-knowledge to be a necessary condition of virtue. To make sense of the priority Kant assigns to the pursuit of self-knowledge, I argue that it is essential to understand the role of what has been called “generic” self-knowledge in Kant’s moral philosophy. I proceed to defend the place Kant grants moral self-knowledge in his moral philosophy, primarily by developing a Kantian account of such “generic” self-knowledge.