In Kant on Reflection and Virtue, Melissa Merritt offers a detailed interpretation of what she calls “the Kantian reflective ideal,” bringing together Kant's most important claims concerning the value of reflection and our putative obligation to reflect. At its most minimal, Merritt takes the ideal to be implicit in Kant's claims that every judgment requires reflection (Überlegung) (A/B: 260–61/316–17), and that such reflection is a duty (A/B: 263/319).1 But for Merritt the reflective ideal goes beyond a supposed duty to reflect. It also points to the “supreme value Kant accords to being rationally reflective” (2). The ideal therefore covers both the axiological and deontological theses Kant advances with respect to reflection and its place in human life.

Merritt's aim is to offer a novel interpretation of this ideal that will help dispel its caricatured misinterpretation. The widely accepted caricature presents...

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