Vol. 42 No. 1 (2021): Food and philosophy
Articles

Despair, trust, and difference-making: a secular version of a Kantian moral argument

Andrew Chignell
Princeton University

Published 2022-06-28

How to Cite

Chignell, A. (2022). Despair, trust, and difference-making: a secular version of a Kantian moral argument. Teoria. Rivista Di Filosofia, 42(1), 7–29. https://doi.org/10.4454/teoria.v43i1.141

Abstract

Those of us who enjoy certain products of the global industrial economy but also believe it is wrong to consume them are often so demoralized by the apparent inefficacy of our individual, private choices that we are unable to resist. Although he was a deontologist, Kant was clearly aware of this “consequent-dependent” side of our moral psychology. One version of his “moral proof” is designed to respond to the threat of such demoralization in pursuit of the Highest Good. That version of the argument says that the capacity that Belief and trust in God has to sustain our moral resolve licenses that Belief and trust, from a practical point of view. My goal here is to argue that Kant’s proof has a contemporary, secular analogue in modern industrial contexts where the apparent “inefficacy” of an individual consumer’s choices in the face of massive insensitive supply-chains is a threat to her moral resolve. My suggestion is that the Kantian approach may license us in adopting (as an
item of defeasible moral Belief) an evidential decision-theoretic principle regarding what it is to “make a difference”. This in turn licenses trust – if not in God then in other right-minded people.