Kant on Construction, Apriority, and the Moral Relevance of Universalization

This paper introduces a referential reading of Kant?s practical project, according to which maxims are made morally permissible by their correspondence to objects, though not the ontic objects of Kant?s theoretical project but deontic objects (what ought to be). It illustrates this model by showing how the content of the Formula of Universal Law might be determined by what our capacity of practical reason can stand in a referential relation to, rather than by facts about what kind of beings we are (viz., uncaused causes). This solves the neglected puzzle of why there are passages in Kant?s works suggesting robust analogies between mathematics and ethics, since to universalize a maxim is to test a priori whether a practical object with that particular content can be constructed. An apparent problem with this hypothesis is that the medium of practical sensibility (feeling) does not play a role analogous to the medium of theoretical sensibility (intuition). In response I distinguish two separate Kantian accounts of mathematical apriority. The thesis that maxim universalization is a species of construction, and thus a priori, turns out to be consistent with the account of apriority that informs Kant?s understanding of actual mathematical practice
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DOI 10.1080/09608788.2011.624712
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