Photo: Biblioteca di Mafra, Portugal © Massimo Listri

Karin A. Nisenbaum

Renée Crown Professor in the Humanities and Assistant Professor
Syracuse University

I am the Renée Crown Professor in the Humanities and Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Syracuse University.  Before coming to Syracuse University in 2021, I taught at Boston College, Colgate University, and the University of Denver.  I was also a Mandel postdoctoral fellow at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. 

My book, For the Love of Metaphysics: Nihilism and the Conflict of Reason from Kant to  Rosenzweig (Oxford University Press, 2018), offers a new perspective on the history of German Idealism that focuses on the role of the principle of sufficient reason and the idea of a primacy of practical reason.  I am also the author of a number of articles on topics at the intersection of ethics and metaphysics in Kant, post-Kantian German Idealism, and modern Jewish thought in journals such as Journal of the History of Philosophy, European Journal of Philosophy, and Journal of Philosophical Research. 

I am currently at work on two monographs.  The first is on Kantian and post-Kantian conceptions of the highest good; the second defends a post-Kantian form of moral perfectionism.  In addition, I am finishing papers on moral development, moral transformation, and the duty of truthfulness in Kant and Fichte.  For further details on these projects, see my research page.

Much of my effort to promote diversity and inclusion in the discipline has focused on creating a support network for women working on Kant and post-Kantian philosophy.  Together with Katharina Kaiser (UC Berkeley) and Samantha Matherne (Harvard), I organize a yearly summer colloquium in Berlin for women working in these areas.

Research Projects

The Highest Good in German Idealism

In his Critique of Practical Reason, Kant argues that moral agents have a duty to promote the highest good, a state of affairs that involves a proportionality or harmony between two heterogeneous elements: virtue and happiness.  He also argues that this duty to...

Current Courses

The Highest Good

The highest good or summum bonum has traditionally been conceived as the highest or ultimate good, the singular and overriding end which human beings ought to pursue.

Kantian and Post-Kantian Ethics

The conception of morality as autonomy was Kant’s revolutionary innovation in moral philosophy. This course will examine different ways of understanding Kant’s view that moral action is autonomous action, as well as some early and recent criticisms of this view.

Introduction to Moral Theory

Daily life confronts us with many situations when we need to make difficult decisions about how to act, or when we need to step back and evaluate our feelings about what we, or others, have done.

American Philosophical Association (APA)
North American Kant Society (NAKS)
American Philosophical Association (APA)
Gesellschaft für analytische Philosophie e.V. (GAP)
Internationale Rosenzweig Gesellschaft