The Social Authority of Reason

Kant's Critique, Radical Evil, and the Destiny of Humankind

By Philip J. Rossi, SJ

Subjects: Political Philosophy, History Of Philosophy, Ethics
Series: SUNY series in Philosophy
Paperback : 9780791464304, 218 pages, January 2006
Hardcover : 9780791464298, 218 pages, March 2005

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Table of contents


List of Abbreviations and English Translations

1. The Moral and Social Trajectories of Kant's Critical Project

2 The Human Place in the Cosmos I: Critique at the Juncture of Nature and Freedom

3. The Human Place in the Cosmos II: Critique as the Social Self-Governance of Reason

4. The Social Consequences of "Radical Evil"

5. The Social Authority of Reason: The Ethical Commonwealth and the Project of Perpetual Peace

6. The Social Authority of Reason and the Culture(s) of Post-modernity

7. The Unfinished Task of Critique: Social Respect and the Shaping of a Common World



Explores the social ramifications of Kant's concept of radical evil.


In The Social Authority of Reason, Philip J. Rossi, SJ argues that the current cultural milieu of globalization is strikingly reflective of the human condition appraised by Kant, in which mutual social interaction for human good is hamstrung by our contentious "unsociable sociability." He situates the paradoxical nature of contemporary society—its opportunities for deepening the bonds of our common human mutuality along with its potential for enlarging the fissures that arise from our human differences—in the context of Kant's notion of radical evil. As a corrective, Rossi proposes that we draw upon the social character of Kant's critique of reason, which offers a communal trajectory for human moral effort and action. This trajectory still has power to open the path to what Kant called "the highest political good"—lasting peace among nations.

Philip J. Rossi, SJ is Professor of Theology at Marquette University and the coeditor (with Michael J. Wreen) of Kant's Philosophy of Religion Reconsidered.