Enlightenment Fundamentals: Rights, Responsibilities & Republicanism

Kenneth R. Westphal

About author

Kenneth R. Westphal
University of East Anglia, School of Philosophy
Honorary Professorial Fellow
Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg,
Vertretungsprofessor für Philosophiegeschichte 2013-14
Seminar für Philosophie
D-06099 Halle, Saale

Email: westphal.k.r@gmail.com

Kenneth R. Westphal is Professorial Fellow in the School of Philosophy, University of East Anglia (Norwich), and currently Visiting Professor of Philosophy at the Martin-Luther-Universität Halle Wittenberg. His central research focus is the character and scope of rational justification in non-formal domains, both in theoretical and in moral philosophy. His research integrates systematic with historical, and analytical with hermeneutical methods, analyses and sources. His books include Hegel, Hume und die Identität wahrnembarer Dinge (Klostermann 1998) and Kant’s Transcendental Proof of Realism (Cambridge, 2004). His current research includes a monograph on moral constructivism which argues that strictly objective, fundamental moral standards can be identified and justified without appeal (pro or contra) to moral realism; and a monograph on Wilfrid Sellars’s philosophical semantics.


This essay re-examines some key fundamentals of the Enlightenment regarding individual rights, responsibilities and republicanism which deserve and require re-emphasis today, insofar as they underscore the character and fundamental importance of mature judgment, and how developing and fostering mature judgment is a fundamental aim of education. These fundamentals have been clouded or eroded by various recent developments, including mis-guided educational policy and not a little scholarly bickering. Clarity about these fundamentals is more important today than ever. Sapere aude!

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