Conscience and the Oracular Affirmation of Contingency in Action

Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 2016

Publication Title



Hegel argues that we must recognize the essential role that contingency plays in moral action. Because the role that Hegel finds for contingency is both outside of one’s control and idiosyncratic, his view represents a significant challenge to the ideas that in morality we only account for what we can control and that our motivations should not be idiosyncratic needs. To bring out this significance, I look at three ways in which Hegel characterizes the relationship between the necessity of the moral law and the contingency of moral action, by drawing on three figures Hegel has emphasized in the history of moral action.