Who is Kurt Baier?

Who is Kurt Baier?

June 25, 2021 Off By Felso

Kurt Baier was an Austrian-American philosopher who lived from January 26, 1917 to November 7, 2010. Kurt Baier stands out especially with his works in the field of moral philosophy.

Kurt Baier’s Life and Career

Kurt Baier was born in Vienna, Austria in 1917. When he went to England in 1938 to escape Nazi persecution, he had to drop out of his law studies at the University of Vienna. Baier was detained in the UK as an “enemy who seemed friendly” and was sent to Australia.

Kurt Baier started his philosophical studies in the concentration camp and continued these studies after the war ended. He received his BA (1944) and MA (1947) from the University of Melbourne and his PhD (1952) from Oxford University. He has taught at the University of Melbourne, the Australian National University and the University of Pittsburgh. He has served as visiting professor at Cornell University, the University of Illinois, the University of Florida, and the University of Otago (New Zealand). He was president of the eastern division of the American Philosophical Society.

Kurt Baier married Annette Baier in 1958. After retiring, they moved to Annette’s homeland, New Zealand. Although they were not born in America, the most outstanding philosophical couple in American philosophy may be the Baier couple. Because they both taught the Paul Carus Lectures, and both were invited to become fellows of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Kurt Baier was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Law from the Karl Franzen University of Graz at a ceremony hosted by the University of Otago in 2001.

Kurt Baier
Kurt Baier’s Philosophy

Baier was one of the most influential philosophers in the field of moral philosophy in the second half of the twentieth century. He is one of the philosophers primarily responsible for returning the field of moral philosophy from an obsession with the language of moral judgments to its traditional interest in explaining and justifying guidelines for moral conduct. He is also one of the leading philosophers in shifting the field of moral philosophy from fixed-mindedness in the way moral judgments are expressed to traditional guidance in explaining and validating patterns of moral behavior.

Baier argued that moral norms apply to everyone. According to him, moral rules should be universally teachable, that is, they should not contain thoughts or views unknown to all adult people. If moral rules are taught universally, they are not self-defeating, self-defeating, morally impossible, or meaningless rules. After Baier, many moral philosophers have used these qualities as a model of morality that would be valid for considering a behavior as moral.

Baier accepts that these features are only formal and that moral rules must have a certain content. Kurt Baier explains this content as moral rules should be for the good of all. However; He also emphasizes that these rules prohibit harming any living creature by exemplifying killing, cruelty, inflicting pain, maiming, torture, deception, deception and rape.

Like Thomas Hobbes, who is known to have had a strong influence on his views, Baier introduced the principle of reversibility: the model of moral living. Although he did not use the language of natural law theories, Baier followed the path of Hobbes, who argued that morality should be known to all those held morally responsible for their actions, that is, moral rules apply to anyone who can understand them.

Baier states, “A morality is literally a set of moral beliefs that can be right or wrong; that is, it includes a set of rules or principles in which certain controls are involved.” (Baier 1965, p. 89). Baier has argued that these controls should include what he calls a “moral standpoint.” Although Baier’s explanation of this point of view is not universally accepted, it is widely accepted that moral rules should emerge from a perspective based on universally shared beliefs and desires.

Baier thus provided a reasonable and effective explanation of morality, as well as a more acceptable explanation of rationality than standard instrumentalist calculations. When we “put our hands on fire for no reason or cut off our toes one by one” it is illogical, this illogicality is perfectly acceptable. (Baier 1965, p. 158). Unlike many contemporary philosophers, he is aware that there are irrational desires, and therefore he is also aware that it would not be correct to describe a rational action as one that maximizes the satisfaction of one’s desires.

Baier made a distinction between moral judgments and other value judgments, showing that the terms “right”, “necessary”, “good” and “bad” are primarily about values, not morality. Baier warns many that focusing on the use of these terms will not be very helpful in determining what morality is.