Normativity in Neo-Kantianism: Its Rise and Fall

Frederick C. Beiser
(Syracuse University, USA)

International Journal of Philosophical Studies, Volume 17, Issue 1 February 2009 , pages 9 - 27


This article discusses the historical background to the concept of normativity which has a wide use in contemporary philosophy. It locates the origin of that concept in the Southwestern Neo-Kantian school, the writings of Windelband, Rickert and Lask. The Southwestern school made the concept of normativity central to epistemology, ethics and the interpretation of German idealism. It was their solution to the threats of psycologism and historicism. However, Windelband, Rickert and Lask found difficulties with the concept which eventually forced them to abandon it. These difficulties might be of interest to contemporary philosophers who find the concept of normativity appealing.

Keywords: Normativity; Southwestern Neo-Kantianism; Rickert; Lask; Windelbcand

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