1st Edition

Baumgarten’s Legacy in Kant’s Ethics

By Toshiro Osawa Copyright 2025
    186 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book offers the first substantial account of Alexander Gottlieb Baumgarten’s significant influence on Kant’s ethics. Arguing that Baumgarten’s impact is more extensive and profound than previously thought, the book provides a novel interpretation of the formation of Kant’s ethical framework.

    Scholars have made use of Baumgarten’s Ethica philosophica (1740) to elucidate Kant’s complex terminology and to provide a background against which to understand Kant’s nuanced relationship to his predecessors. To date, however, no English book explores the specific influence of Baumgarten’s Ethica on Kant. This book comments on passages from the Ethica and contrasts them with Kant’s treatment of the same concepts, topics, and questions in his ethics. Notably, Baumgarten articulates ethics around the concept of duty and the principle of perfection, leading to his version of the categorical imperative: ‘perfect yourself’. While Kant rejects this ethical framework, it is evident that he directly adopts Baumgarten’s ideas and critiques them at the same time. Each chapter examines a major topic: the relationship between religion and ethics, duties to oneself, duties to others, duties in particular cases, and the relationship between ethics and political philosophy.

    Baumgarten’s Legacy in Kant’s Ethics is an essential resource for scholars and advanced students working on Kant, 18th-century philosophy, and the history of ethics.


    1. Religion and Ethics

    2. Duties to Oneself

    3. Duties to Others

    4. Duties in Particular Cases

    5. Ethics and Political Philosophy


    Appendix 1: The Structure of the Ethica philosophica

    Appendix 2: The Detailed Structure of ‘Duties to Others’ in Baumgarten


    Toshiro Osawa, a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow (2021–23), is a visiting researcher at the University of Oslo. His articles have appeared in journals including The Southern Journal of Philosophy, International Philosophical Quarterly, and Kant Yearbook