nl en

Classics of Practical Philosophy


Admission requirements

Admission to this course is restricted to:

  • BA students in Filosofie, who have successfully completed at least 70 ECTS credits of the mandatory components of the first and second year of their bachelor’s programme, including History of Modern Philosophy, History of Political Philosophy or Griekse en Romeinse filosofie, Ethiek, Politieke filosofie / Political Philosophy.

  • BA students in Philosophy: Global and Comparative Perspectives, who have successfully completed at least 70 ECTS credits of the mandatory components of the first and second year of their bachelor’s programme, including World Philosophies: Greek and Roman Antiquity, World Philosophies: Modern Europe, Ethics, Political Philosophy.

  • Pre-master’s students in Philosophy who are in possession of an admission statement and who have to complete an advanced seminar, to be selected from package B.


This course will be devoted to a comprehensive review of Immanuel Kant’s moral philosophy. His moral theory is well-known for downgrading feelings and inclinations in favour of pure reason. In this theory, most of our psychological, empirical conditions, such as our instincts, natural feelings and desires – especially affects and passions, are indeed seen as obstacles we must overcome if we are to become virtuous. And Kant’s discussions of the fundamental principle of morality in the Groundwork and the Critique of Practical Reason give us grounds for subscribing to this reconstruction. However, in his Metaphysics of Morals and Anthropology from a Pragmatic Point of View, Kant extensively discusses the relevance of certain psychological conditions to our moral agency. Over the past few decades, Kant’s theory of virtue and his empirical psychology have received increasing attention. The subjective, psychological conditions that enable or aid human morality, such as conscience, self-control, moral feelings and cultivated sympathetic feelings, have also been addressed in great detail. Against the common caricature of the Kantian virtuous agent as someone who must be purely rational or devoid of feeling, it has been argued that certain feelings play a positive role in Kant’s doctrine of virtue. We will first turn to the key concepts Kant uses to explain “pure morality”, but special attention will be paid to the conceptions that he develops to capture human moral agency, or to describe how human beings apply general moral principles in real-life situations.

Course objectives

This course aims to provide students with a detailed knowledge of the main features of Kant’s ethics.
Students who successfully complete the course will have:

  • a good understanding of the following concepts: autonomy, maxims, the categorical imperative, heteronomy, virtue, self-control, inner freedom, affects, passions, inclinations, moral strength, moral ends, moral judgment, autocracy, moral motivation, moral feeling, sympathy, conscience, character, moral weakness, duties to oneself and duties to others;

  • insight into the relationship between the pure and the empirical perspective in Kant’s ethics.

Students who successfully complete the course will be able to:

  • explain Kant’s ethical views;

  • critically engage with Kant’s texts and the assigned secondary literature.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Seminars

Class attendance is required.

Assessment method


  • Midterm paper

  • Final paper

  • Class presentation


The final mark for the course is established by determination of the weighted average of the two papers:

  • Midterm paper: 20%

  • Final paper: 80%

Successful completion of the presentation is required.


If the final mark is unsatisfactory, there is an option for re-examination by writing a paper. The mark for the resit will replace all previously earned marks for subtests. No separate resits will be offered for mid-term test. Class participation and the presentation are required for taking the resit.

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.

Reading list

Literature will be made available at the beginning of the course.


Enrolment through MyStudymap is not possible for this course. Students are requested to submit their preferences for the third-year electives by means of an online registration form. They will receive the instruction and online registration form by email (uMail account); in June for courses scheduled in semester 1, and in December for courses scheduled in semester 2. Registration in uSis will be taken care of by the Education Administration Office.


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the information bar at the right hand side of the page.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc., contact the Education Administration Office Huizinga


Not applicable.