Since Kant, ethics has been synonymous with moral law, grounded in Reason. As Kant's heirs, we are still grappling with a tension he sought to resolve through his appeal to a rational God, namely, between ethics and politics. “Politics says, ‘Be ye wise as serpents,’” remarks Kant: “Morality adds (as a limiting condition) ‘and guileless as doves’” (1795, 338). For Kant, both the serpent of politics and the dove of ethics are bound by the same moral duty that has its source in the freedom of our sovereign rational will. The perfection of this good will is possible not as individuals but only from the perspective of what Kant calls “Universal History from a Cosmopolitan Point of View,” which it turns out is a view from the cosmos, more specifically, from the perspective of the “dwellers from other planets” whom Kant imagines viewing us from their own place in the...

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