This article presents an overview of the current debate on Kant's doctrine of idealism, focussing on the metaphysical interpretations of Ameriks, Allais, Friebe, Langton, Van Cleve and Westphal, and also on Guyer's recent reassessment of Allison's latest views.
In his Beweisgrund (1762), Kant presents a sketch of "the only possible basis" for a proof of God's existence. In this essay, I attempt to present that proof as a valid and sound argument for the existence of God.
ABSTRACT: A general interpretation and close textual analysis of Kant’s theory of the categories of freedom (or categories of practical reason) in his Critique of Practical Reason. My main concerns in the paper are the following: (1) I show that Kant’s categories of freedom have primarily three functions: as conditions of the possibility for actions (i) to be free, (ii) to be comprehensible as free and (iii) to be morally evaluated. (2) I show that for Kant actions, although qua theoretical (...) objects they are always already constituted by means of the theoretical categories, qua practical objects (objects of reason in its practical use, i.e. objects qua possibly good or bad) they are constituted by means of the categories of freedom; and that it is only in this way that actions, qua phenomena, can be a consequence of freedom, and can be understood and evaluated as such. (English translation in progress.). (shrink)
According to Kant’s Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science, a proper science is organized according to rational principles and has a pure a priori rational part, its metaphysical foundation. In the second edition Preface to the first Critique, Kant claims that his account of time explains the a priori possibility of Newton’s laws of motion. I argue that Kant’s proof of the law of inertia fails, and that this casts doubt on Kant’s enterprise of providing a priori foundations for Newton’s physics.
In 1801 Hegel charged that, on Kant’s analysis, forces are ‘either purely ideal, in which case they are not forces, or else they are transcendent’. I argue that this objection, which Hegel did not spell out, reveals an important and fundamental line of internal criticism of Kant’s Critical philosophy. I show that Kant’s basic forces of attraction and repulsion, which constitute matter, are merely ideal because Kant’s arguments for them are circular and beg the question, and they have no determinate (...) connection to any of the basic forces of Newtonian physics. Hence they are mere Gedankendinge. I argue further, that real physical forces transcend Kant’s analysis by showing that his proof of Newton’s law of inertia is unsound. I then show that this apparently specific disagreement underlies the enormous philosophical shift from Kant’s anti-naturalist transcendental idealism to Hegel’s naturalistic use of regressive, quasi-transcendental arguments. (shrink)
It is argued that the popular story that portrays Kant’s philosophical development as a gradual emancipation from his Leibniz-Wolffian roots that culminated in a total rejection of the Leibnizian philosophy by 1781 is not accurate. Kant’s many objections against the Leibnizian philosophy in the critical period are not directed against Leibniz himself but against the Leibniz-Wolffians. Kant considers Leibniz’s philosophy to be very close to his own, calling the Critique of Pure Reason the “true apology” of Leibniz. It is claimed (...) that this assessment is correct; the correctness is demonstrated with respect to Kant’s and Leibniz’s theories of space. (shrink)
Kant says that it can be rational to accept propositions on the basis of non-epistemic or broadly practical considerations, even if those propositions include “transcendental ideas” of supersensible objects. He also worries, however, about how such ideas (of freedom, the soul, noumenal grounds, God, the kingdom of ends, and things-in-themselves generally) acquire genuine positive content in the absence of an appropriate connection to intuitional experience. How can we be sure that the ideas are not empty “thought-entities (Gedankendinge)”—that is, speculative fancies (...) that do not and perhaps even cannot have referents in reality? In this paper I argue for an account of the fundamental problem here (i.e. that it is based in a concern about whether or not the objects of such ideas are "really possible" in Kant's technical sense). I then critically evaluate Kant's three proposed solutions to the problem. -/- . (shrink)
I argue, without offering what Ameriks has called a 'short argument', that idealism follows already from the constraints that the use of the categories, in particular the categories of quality, places on the conceivability of things in themselves. My claim is that, although it is not only possible but also necessary to think things in themselves, it doesn't follow that by merely thinking we have a full grasp of the nature of things in themselves. For support, I look to a (...) much overlooked chapter in the Critique, the Transcendental Ideal, where Kant discusses what it is for a thing to be a thing-in-itself proper, namely something that is thoroughly determined. I claim that the chief reason why, given Kant's view of determinative judgment, we cannot determine a thing-in-itself is because of two connected reasons: (1) a thing-in-itself is already fully determined and therefore not further determinable and (2) we cannot possibly determine all of the thing's possible determinations. (shrink)
Within the theory of rational agency found in Kant's anthropology lectures and sketched in the moral philosophy, prudence is the manifestation of a distinctive, nonmoral rational capacity concerned with one's own happiness or well-being. Contrary to influential claims that prudential reasons are mere prima facie or "candidate" reasons, prudence can be seen to be a genuine manifestation of rational agency, involving a distinctive sort of normative authority, an authority distinguishable from and conceptually prior to that of moral norms, though (...) still overridable by them. The anthropology lectures make an important contribution to the understanding of Kant's account of the distinctive prudential task: despite Kant's familiar complaints about human finitude and the natural dialectic of our desires, Kant offers useful suggestions about how prudential reflection can generate genuine practical guidance. Even with several significant developments in Kant's anthropological theory over time, prudential norms can still be regarded as distinctive and conceptually independent of morality. (shrink)
Patriotism and cosmopolitanism are often presumed to be mutually exclusive, but Immanuel Kant defends both. Although he is best known for his moral and political cosmopolitanism, in several texts he defends the claim that we have a duty of patriotism, claiming that cosmopolitans ought to be patriotic. In this paper, I examine Kant’s different accounts of the duty of patriotism. I argue that Kant’s defense of nationalist patriotism fails, but that his argument for a duty of civic patriotism succeeds.
Pauline Kleingeld, "What Do the Virtuous Hope For?: Re-reading Kant's Doctrine of the Highest Good." In Proceedings of the Eighth International Kant Congress, Memphis 1995, edited by Hoke Robinson, Vol. I.1, 91-112. Milwaukee: Marquette University Press, 1995.
Scholars have long debated the relationship between Kant’s doctrine of right and his doctrine of virtue (including his moral religion or ethico-theology), which are the two branches of his moral philosophy. This article will examine the intimate connection in his practical philosophy between perpetual peace and the highest good, between political and ethico-religious communities, and between the types of transparency peculiar to each. It will show how domestic and international right provides a framework for the development of ethical communities, including (...) a kingdom of ends and even the noumenal ethical community of an afterlife, and how the transparency and trust achieved in these communities is anticipated in rightful political society by publicity and the mutual confidence among citizens that it engenders. Finally, it will explore the implications of this synthesis of Kant’s political and religious philosophies for contemporary Kantian political theories, especially those of Jürgen Habermas and John Rawls. (shrink)
While there is good reason to think that Mendelssohn's Morgenstunden targets some of the key claims of Kant’s first Critique, this criticism has yet to be considered in the appropriate context or presented in all of its systematic detail. I show that far from being an isolated assault, Mendelssohn’s attack in the Morgenstunden is a continuation and development of his earlier criticism of Kant’s idealism as presented in the Inaugural Dissertation. I also show that Mendelssohn’s objection was more influential on (...) Kant than has previously been suspected; not only did Kant respond to it in a brief review and a set of remarks published along with a disciple’s examination of Mendelssohn’s text but, as I will suggest, Kant’s Refutation of Idealism is intended (at least in part) to undermine the Cartesian starting-point Mendelssohn had presumed throughout his campaign against Kantian idealism. (shrink)
Pauline Kleingeld, "What Do the Virtuous Hope For?: Re-reading Kant's Doctrine of the Highest Good." In Proceedings of the Eighth International Kant Congress, Memphis 1995, edited by Hoke Robinson, Vol. I.1, 91-112. Milwaukee: Marquette University Press, 1995.
It might at first seem that the senses (the five traditionally recognized conduits of outer sense) would have very little to contribute to an investigation of Kant's aesthetics. Is not Kant's aesthetic theory based on a relation of the higher cognitive faculties? Much however can be revealed by asking to what degree sight is essential to aesthetic judgment (of beauty and the sublime) as Kant describes it in the 'Critique of Judgment.' Here the sublime receives particular attention.
In his Anthropology from a Pragmatic Point of View, Kant formulates the idea of the empirical investigation of the human being as a free agent. The notion is puzzling: Does Kant not often claim that, from an empirical point of view, human beings cannot be considered as free? What sense would it make anyway to include the notion of freedom in science? The answer to these questions lies in Kant’s notion of character. While probably all concepts of character are involved (...) in the description and explanation of human action, Kant develops a specific notion of character by distinguishing character as a “mode of thought” (Denkungsart) from character as a “mode of sensing” (Sinnesart). The former notion is distinctively Kantian. Only mode of thought reveals itself in human action such that actions can be seen as linked to an agent’s first-person perspective and the capacity to rationally reflect one’s own intentions and desires. By reference to this concept human actions can be empirically explained qua free actions. The point of this paper is not only to rule out the interpretation that Kant is an incompatibilist concerning the dilemma of freedom and causal determinism. It is also argued that Kant defends a version of soft determinism which is more sophisticated and more adequate for the human sciences than Hume’s. (shrink)
Against several recent interpretations, I argue in this paper that Immanuel Kant's support for enlightened absolutism was a permanent feature of his political thought that fit comfortably within his larger philosophy, though he saw such rule as part of a transition to democratic self-government initiated by the absolute monarch himself. I support these contentions with (1) a detailed exegesis of Kant’s essay "What is Enlightenment?" (2) an argument that Kantian republicanism requires not merely a separation of powers but also (...) a representative democratic legislature, and (3) a demonstration that each stage of a democratic transition can potentially be in an absolute monarch’s short-run self-interest. I conclude the paper by defending Kant's theory of democratization against charges of consequentialism and paternalism and by pointing out its similarity to other accounts of democratic transitions (for example, those of Samuel Huntington and Guillermo O'Donnell), suggesting a previously unnoticed opportunity for cross-fertilization between political philosophy and comparative politics. (shrink)
In the first edition of his book on the completeness of Kant’s table of judgments, Klaus Reich shortly indicates that the B-version of the metaphysical exposition of space in the Critique of pure reason is structured following the inverse order of the table of categories. In this paper, I develop Reich’s claim and provide further evidence for it. My argumentation is as follows: Through analysis of our actually given representation of space as some kind of object (the formal intuition of (...) space in general), the metaphysical exposition will show that this representation is secondary to space considered as an original, undetermined and as such unrepresentable intuitive manifold. Now, following Kant, the representation of any kind of object involves diversity, synthesis and unity. In the case of our representation of space as formal intuition, this involves, firstly, a manifold a priori, i.e. space as pure form, delivered by the transcendental Aesthetic, secondly, a figurative, productive synthesis of that manifold, and, thirdly, the unity provided by the categories. Analysing our given representation of space – the task of the metaphysical exposition – amounts to dismantling its unity and determine its characteristics with respect to the categories. (shrink)
It is generally assumed that, during his early pre-critical phase, Kant accepted a Leibnizian account of freedom according to which we are free to do otherwise than we do even though our actions are determined. This assumption is false. Far from endorsing such an account, Kant explicitly argues in the "New Elucidation of the First Principle of Metaphysical Cognition" (1755) that there is no relevant sense in which we can do otherwise than we do. Nevertheless, he is equally convinced that (...) we are free and responsible for our actions. And so he concludes that we can be responsible for what we do even if we could not have done otherwise. Little attention, however, has been paid to this argument. This is unfortunate, since a better understanding of this stage in Kant’s theory of freedom would surely help us in understanding the later critical developments. (shrink)
Kant's transcendental idealism hinges on a distinction between appearances and things in themselves. The debate about how to understand this distinction has largely ignored the way that Kant applies this distinction to the self. I argue that this is a mistake, and that Kant's acceptance of a single, unified self in both his theoretical and practical philosophy causes serious problems for the 'two-world' interpretation of his idealism.
Kant gave lectures on physical geography and anthropology and called them cosmopolitan philosophy. His physical geography lectures were intended to teach students not just facts but also how to have practical judgment (Klugheit) and were to prepare students for their place in the world. This article shows how the physical geography lectures were organized for that purpose.
Examining the effectiveness of the Kant’s Refutation of Idealism as a critique of a Cartesian account of consciousness, I argue that Kant's reasoning turns on the insight that self-knowledge presupposes independent temporal determination of the self. This insight bears an intriguing resemblance to claims about meaning and justification that appear in Wittgenstein's later work. Much as Wittgenstein rules out the possibility of a private language, whose meanings derive from acts of inner ostensive definition, on the ground that language requires (...) an independent standard of meaning, so Kant shows that there must be objects in space and time outside me because they constitute the only independent standard of temporality, relative to which I can be conscious of my own existence as determined in time. But Kant only partially anticipates Wittgenstein because the former does not fully appreciate the linguistic nature of judgment. (shrink)
Eric Watkins has argued on philosophical, textual, and historical grounds that Kant’s account of causation in the first Critique should not be read as an attempt to refute Hume’s account of causation. In this paper, I challenge the arguments for Watkins’ claim. Specifically, I argue (1) that Kant’s philosophical commitments, even on Watkins’ reading, are not obvious obstacles to refuting Hume, (2) that textual evidence from the “Disciple of Pure Reason” suggests Kant conceived of his account of causation as such (...) a refutation, and (3) that none of Hume’s early German critics provided responses to this account that would have satisfied Kant. Watkins’ reading of Kant’s account of causation is thus more compatible with traditional views about Kant’s relationship to Hume than Watkins believes. (shrink)
In the Canon of the Critique of Pure Reason, Kant endorses both a Moral Belief in God as well as what he there calls Doctrinal Belief. The former mode of belief is well known and can be found throughout the Kantian Corpus. The latter, however, is far more obscure and thus far has not been carefully studied. Doctrinal Belief only appears explicitly in the Canon, but is related to a number of issues in the Transcendental Dialectic as well as the (...) Critique of Judgment. This paper will provide an account of the Doctrinal Belief in God and consider its compatibility with Kant’s other discussions of the projected ground of the principle of purposiveness. (shrink)
Although Kant argues that morality is prior to and independent of religion, Kant nevertheless claims that religion of a certain sort (“moral theism”) follows from morality, and that atheism poses threats to morality. Kant criticizes atheism as morally problematic in four ways: atheism robs the atheist of springs for moral action, leads the atheist to moral despair, corrupts the atheist’s moral character, and has a pernicious influence on the atheist’s community. I argue that Kant is right to say that moral (...) theism can help support morality, and that (for some people), morality leads to religion. But I also argue that one may refrain from accepting the existence of God and still act from respect for the moral law, resist despair, cultivate and retain a virtuous character, and pose no moral threat to one’s community. Indeed, theism, even moral theism, raises moral risks of its own. This article includes discussions of different versions of the highest good, and of two main types of atheism (skeptical and dogmatic). (shrink)
Although Kant envisaged a prominent role for logic in the argumentative structure of his Critique of pure reason, logicians and philosophers have generally judged Kant's logic negatively. What Kant called `general' or `formal' logic has been dismissed as a fairly arbitrary subsystem of first order logic, and what he called `transcendental logic' is considered to be not a logic at all: no syntax, no semantics, no definition of validity. Against this, we argue that Kant's `transcendental logic' is a (...) logic in the strict formal sense, albeit with a semantics and a definition of validity that are vastly more complex than that of first order logic. The main technical application of the formalism developed here is a formal proof that Kant's Table of Judgements in §9 of the Critique of pure reason, is indeed, as Kant claimed, complete for the kind of semantics he had in mind. This result implies that Kant's 'general' logic is after all a distinguished subsystem of first order logic, namely what is known as geometric logic. (shrink)
Kant's unduly neglected concept of cosmopolitan law suggests a third sphere of public law -- in addition to constitutional law and international law -- in which both states and individuals have rights, and where individuals have these rights as ‛citizens of the earth' rather than as citizens of particular states. I critically examine Kant's view of cosmopolitan law, discussing its addressees, content, justification, and institutionalization. I argue that Kant's conception of ‛world citizenship' is neither merely metaphorical nor (...) dependent on an ideal of a world-government. Kant's views are particularly relevant in light of recent shifts in international law, shifts that lead away from the view that individuals can only be subjects of international law insofar as they are citizens of particular states. Thereby, a category of rights has emerged that comes close to what Kant understands by cosmopolitan law. (shrink)
There exists a standard view of Kant’s position on global order and this view informs much of current Kantian political theory. This standard view is that Kant advocates a voluntary league of states and rejects the ideal of a federative state of states as dangerous, unrealistic, and conceptually incoherent. This standard interpretation is usually thought to fall victim to three equally standard objections. In this essay, I argue that the standard interpretation is mistaken and that the three standard objections miss (...) their target. Kant does advocate the establishment of a non-coercive league of states, at least in his mature political writings (such as Perpetual Peace and the Metaphysics of Morals), but he does so for different reasons than is usually thought and without rejecting the ideal that a world federation of states eventually be realized. I end by indicating how Kant’s revised view can be made productive for present-day philosophical purposes. (shrink)
During the 1780s, as Kant was developing his universalistic moral theory, he published texts in which he defended the superiority of whites over non-whites. Whether commentators see this as evidence of inconsistent universalism or of consistent inegalitarianism, they generally assume that Kant's position on race remained stable during the 1780s and 1790s. Against this standard view, I argue on the basis of his texts that Kant radically changed his mind. I examine his 1780s race theory and his hierarchical conception (...) of the races, and subsequently address the question of the significance of these views, especially in the light of Kant's own ethical theory. I then show that during the 1790s Kant restricts the role of the concept of race, and drops his hierarchical account of the races in favour of a more genuinely egalitarian and cosmopolitan view. (shrink)
Kant’s example of lying to the murderer at the door has been a cherished source of scorn for thinkers with little sympathy for Kant’s philosophy and a source of deep puzzlement for those more favorably inclined. The problem is that Kant seems to say that it’s always wrong to lie – even if necessary to prevent a murderer from reaching his victim – and that if one does lie, one becomes partially responsible for the killing of the victim. If this (...) is correct, then Kant’s account seems not only to require us to respect the murderer more than the victim, but also that we somehow can become responsible for the consequences that ultimately result from someone else’s wrongdoing. After World War II our spontaneous negative reaction to this apparently absurd line of argument is brought out even more starkly by making the murderer at the door a Nazi officer looking for Jews hidden in people’s homes. This paper argues that Kant’s discussion of lying to the murderer at the door has been seriously misinterpreted. The suggested root of the problem is that the Doctrine of Right has been given insufficient attention in Kant interpretation. It is in this work we find many of the arguments needed to understand Kant’s analysis of lying to the murderer in “On a Supposed Right to Lie from Philanthropy”. When we interpret this essay in light of Kant’s discussion in the Doctrine of Right, we can make sense of why lying to the murderer isn’t to wrong the murderer, why we nevertheless become responsible for the consequences of the lie and why choosing to lie to do wrong ‘in the highest degree’. Finally, the Doctrine of Right account of rightful relations makes it possible for us to analyze the example when we make the murderer at the door a Nazi officer. (shrink)
James Van Cleve has argued that Kant’s Transcendental Deduction of the categories shows, at most, that we must apply the categories to experience. And this falls short of Kant’s aim, which is to show that they must so apply. In this discussion I argue that once we have noted the differences between the first and second editions of the Deduction, this objection is less telling. But Van Cleve’s objection can help illuminate the structure of the B Deduction, and it suggests (...) an interesting reason why the rewriting might have been thought necessary. (shrink)
In the Critique of Pure Reason Kant appears to characterize analytic judgments in four distinct ways: once in terms of “containment,” a second time in terms of “identity,” a third time in terms of the explicative–ampliative contrast, and a fourth time in terms of the notion of “cognizability in accordance with the principle of contradiction.” The paper asks: Which of these characterizations—or apparent characterizations—best captures Kant’s conception of analyticity in the first Critique? It suggests: “the second.” It argues, further, that (...) Kant’s distinction is intended to apply only to judgments of subject–predicate form, and that the fourth alleged characterization is not properly speaking a characterization at all. These theses are defended in the course of a more general investigation of the distinction’s meaning, its epistemology, and its tenability. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue that Kant's famous critique of the Ontological Argument largely begs the question against that argument, and is no better when supplemented by the modern quantificational analysis of "exists." In particular, I argue that the claim, common to Hume and Kant, that conceptual truths can never entail substantive existential claims is false,and thus no ground for rejecting the Ontological Argument.
Abstract: My aim is to reconstruct Kant's argument for the principle of the synthetic unity of apperception. I reconstruct Kant's argument in stages, first showing why thinking should be conceived as an activity of synthesis (as opposed to attention), and then showing why the unity or coherence of a subject's representations should depend upon an a priori synthesis. The guiding thread of my account is Kant's conception of enlightenment: as I suggest, the philosophy of mind advanced in (...) the Deduction belongs to an enlightenment epistemology. Kant's conception of enlightenment turns on the requirement that a subject be able to recognize herself as the source of her cognitions. The argument for the apperception principle is reconstructed under the guidance of this conception of the ideal of enlightenment. (shrink)
Kant's theory of animals is based on his belief that animals have presentations and consciousness and in this are like human beings. When we abuse animals then we are more likely to abuse human beings. But animals are organic beings that have internal purposiveness and hence are ends for which other things are means. In this limited sense animals have intrinsic value.
An essay on Kant's theory of justification, where by “justification” is meant the evaluative concept that specifies conditions under which a propositional attitude is rationally acceptable with a moderate-to-high degree of confidence. Kant employs both epistemic and non-epistemic concepts of justification: an epistemic concept of justification sets out conditions under which a propositional attitude is rationally acceptable with a moderate-to-high degree of confidence and a candidate (if true and Gettier-immune) for knowledge. A non-epistemic concept of justification, by contrast, sets (...) out conditions under which attitudes are rationally acceptable with a moderate-to-high degree of confidence but not candidates for knowledge (even if true). The latter conditions will typically be “pragmatic” or “practical,” and thus license acceptance from a “practical” point of view. For Kant, only broadly-speaking practical reasons can provide adequate motivation for adopting a positive attitude towards a proposition (rather than suspending judgment) in the absence of sufficient epistemic grounds. -/- . (shrink)
In attempts to come to grips with Kant’s thought, the influence of the philosophy of Christian Wolff (1679-1754) is often neglected. In this paper, I consider three topics in Kant’s philosophy of mind, broadly construed, where Wolff’s influence is particularly visible: consciousness, self-consciousness, and psychology. I argue that we can better understand Kant’s particular arguments and positions within this context, but also gain a more accurate sense of which aspects of Kant’s accounts derive from the antecedent traditions and which constitute (...) genuine philosophical innovations. (shrink)
The most widespread interpretation amongst contemporary theorists of Kant's theory of punishment is that it is retributivist. On the contrary, I will argue there are very different senses in which Kant discusses punishment. He endorses retribution for moral law transgressions and consequentialist considerations for positive law violations. When these standpoints are taken into consideration, Kant's theory of punishment is more coherent and unified than previously thought. This reading uncovers a new problem in Kant's theory of punishment. By (...) assuming a potential offender's intentional disposition as Kant does without knowing it for certain, we further exacerbate the opportunity for misdiagnosis. (shrink)
References to Kant's so-called Copernicanism or Copernican turn are often put in very general terms. It is commonly thought that Kant makes the Copernican analogy solely in order to point out the fact as such of a paradigm shift in philosophy. This is too historical an interpretation of the analogy. It leaves unexplained both Kant's and Copernicus' reasons for advancing their respective hypotheses, which brought about major changes in the conceptual schemes of philosophy and astronomy. My contention is (...) that something much more specific, systematic is at issue, which contrary to received understanding makes Kant's analogy in fact particularly apt. (shrink)
This critical notice highlights the important contributions that Eric Watkins's writings have made to our understanding of theories about causation developed in eighteenth-century German philosophy and by Kant in particular. Watkins provides a convincing argument that central to Kant's theory of causation is the notion of a real ground or causal power that is non-Humean (since it doesn't reduce to regularities or counterfactual dependencies among events or states) and non-Leibnizean because it doesn't reduce to logical or conceptual relations. However, (...) we raise questions about Watkins's more specific claims that Kant completely rejects a model on which the first relatum of a phenomenal causal relation is an event and that he maintains that real grounds are metaphysically and not just epistemically indeterminate. -/- . (shrink)
This book offers a thoroughgoing, analytic account of the first half of the Transcendental Deduction of the Categories in the B-edition of Kant's Critique of Pure Reason that is different from existing interpretations in at least one important aspect: its central claim is that each of the 12 categories is wholly derivable from the principle of apperception, which goes against the current view that the Deduction is not a proof in a strict philosophical sense and the standard reading that (...) in the Deduction Kant only gives an account of the global applicability of the categories to experience. This novel approach enables a reappraisal of Kant's controversial claim that transcendental self-consciousness is not only a necessary condition of objective experience but also (formally) sufficient for it. The book provides an extensive analysis of Kant's theory of transcendental apperception and also explains why the argument of the Transcendental Deduction is both a regressive and a progressive argument. (shrink)
This key collection of essays sheds new light on long-debated controversies surrounding Kant’s doctrine of idealism and is the first book in the English language that is exclusively dedicated to the subject. Well-known Kantians Karl Ameriks and Manfred Baum present their considered views on this most topical aspect of Kant's thought. Several essays by acclaimed Kant scholars broach a vastly neglected problem in discussions of Kant's idealism, namely the relation between his conception of logic and idealism: The standard (...) view that Kant's logic and idealism are wholly separable comes under scrutiny in these essays. A further set of articles addresses multiple facets of the notorious notion of the thing in itself, which continues to hold the attention of Kant scholars. The volume also contains an extensive discussion of the often overlooked chapter in the Critique of Pure Reason on the Transcendental Ideal. Together, the essays provide a whole new outlook on Kantian idealism. No one with a serious interest in Kant's idealism can afford to ignore this important book. Papers by Karl Ameriks, Manfred Baum, Ido Geiger, Lucy Allais, Gary Banham, Steven M. Bayne, Marcel Quarfood, Dennis Schulting, Dietmar Heidemann, Christian Onof and Jacco Verburgt. (shrink)
This essay partly builds on and partly criticizes a striking idea of Dieter Henrich. Henrich argues that Kant's distinction in the first Critique between the question of fact (quid facti) and the question of law (quid juris) provides clues to the argumentative structure of a philosophical "Deduction". Henrich suggests that the unity of apperception plays a role analogous to a legal factum. By contrast, I argue, first, that the question of fact in the first Critique is settled by the (...) Metaphysical Deduction, which establishes the purity of origin of the Categories, and, second, that in the second Critique, the relevant factum is the Fact of Reason, which amounts to the fact that the Moral Law is pure in origin. (shrink)
I argue that Kant's Critique of Pure Reason offers a positive metaphysical account of the thinking self. Previous interpreters have overlooked this account, I believe, because they have held that any metaphysical view of the self would be incompatible with both Kant's insistence on the limitations of cognition and with his project in the Paralogisms. Closer examination, however, shows that neither of those aspects of the Critique precludes a metaphysical account of the self, and that other aspects (namely, (...) the structure of Kant's overall project and the commitments of his claims in the Transcendental Deduction) require such an account. Drawing on a principle of 'effect-relative composition,' I argue that Kant's self is neither an activity, a form, nor a representation, but instead an individual constituted by the thing or things that bring about the unity of a course of experience. (shrink)
Kant’s use of the terms ‘Nature’ and ‘Providence’ in his essays on history has long puzzled commentators. Kant personifies Nature and Providence in a curious way, by speaking of them as “deciding” to give humankind certain predispositions, “wanting” these to be developed, and “knowing” what is best for humans Moreover, he leaves the relationship between the two terms unclear. In this essay, I argue that Kant’s use of ‘Nature’ and ‘Providence’ can be clarified and explained. Moreover, I show that Kant’s (...) use of the terms is symptomatic of a much more important and not sufficiently appreciated fact about Kant’s philosophy of history, viz., that it fulfils a function in both his theoretical and his practical philosophy. (shrink)
In this paper, I examine Kant’s famous objection to the ontological argument: existence is not a determination. Previous commentators have not adequately explained what this claim means, how it undermines the ontological argument, or how Kant argues for it. I argue that the claim that existence is not a determination means that it is not possible for there to be non-existent objects; necessarily, there are only existent objects. I argue further that Kant’s primary target is not ontological arguments as such (...) but the metaphysical view they presuppose: that God necessarily exists in virtue of his essence being contained in, or logically entailed by, his essence. I show that this view of divine necessity requires the assumption that existence is a determination, and I show that Descartes and Leibniz are implicitly committed to this in their published versions of the ontological argument. I consider the philosophical motivations for the claim that existence is a determination and then I argue that Kant’s argument in the Critique of Pure Reason only undermines some of them. (shrink)
Ernst Cassirer claimed that Kant's notion of actual object presupposes the notion of truth. Therefore, Kant cannot define truth as the correspondence of a judgement with an actual object. In this paper, I discuss the relations between Kant's notions of truth, object, and actuality. I argue that's notion of actual object does not presuppose the notion of truth. I conclude that Kant can define truth as the correspondence of a judgement with an actual object.
In the transcendental deduction, the central argument of the Critique of Pure Reason, Kant seeks to secure the objective validity of our basic categories of thought. He distinguishes objective and subjective sides of this argument. The latter side, the subjective deduction, is normally understood as an investigation of our cognitive faculties. It is identified with Kant’s account of a threefold synthesis involved in our cognition of objects of experience, and it is said to precede and ground Kant’s proof of the (...) validity of the categories in the objective deduction. I challenge this standard reading of the subjective deduction, arguing, first, that there is little textual evidence for it, and, second, that it encourages a problematic conception of how the deduction works. In its place, I present a new reading of the subjective deduction. Rather than being a broad investigation of our cognitive faculties, it should be seen as addressing a specific worry that arises in the course of the objective deduction. The latter establishes the need for a necessary connection between our capacities for thinking and being given objects, but Kant acknowledges that his readers might struggle to comprehend how these seemingly independent capacities are coordinated. Even worse, they might well believe that in asserting this necessary connection, Kant’s position amounts to an implausible subjective idealism. The subjective deduction ismeant to allay these concerns by showing that they rest on a misunderstanding of the relation between these faculties. This new reading of the subjective deduction offers a better fit with Kant’s text. It also has broader implications, for it reveals the more philosophically plausible account of our relation to the world as thinkers that Kant is defending – an account that is largely obscured by the standard reading of the subjective deduction. (shrink)
This paper presents and defends Kant’s non-voluntarist conception of political obligations. I argue that civil society is not primarily a prudential requirement for justice; it is not merely a necessary evil or moral response to combat our corrupting nature or our tendency to act viciously, thoughtlessly or in a biased manner. Rather, civil society is constitutive of rightful relations because only in civil society can we interact in ways reconcilable with each person’s innate right to freedom. Civil society is the (...) means through which we can rightfully interact even on the ideal assumption that no one ever succumbs to immoral temptation. (shrink)
This is a major new study of Kant's ethics that will transform the way students and scholars approach the subject in future. Allen Wood argues that Kant's ethical vision is grounded in the idea of the dignity of the rational nature of every human being. Undergoing both natural competitiveness and social antagonism the human species, according to Kant, develops the rational capacity to struggle against its impulses towards a human community in which the ends of all are to (...) harmonize and coincide. The distinctive features of the book are twofold. First, it focuses for the first time on the central role played in Kant's ethical theory by the value of rational nature as an end itself. Second, it shows the importance of Kant's systematic theory of human nature and history, and its implications for the structure, formulation, and application of Kant's moral principles. This comprehensive study will be of critical importance to students of moral philosophy, the history of ideas, political theory, and religious studies. (shrink)
The 'one-world' interpretation of Kant's idealism holds that appearances and things in themselves are, in some sense, the same things. Yet this reading faces a number of problems, all arising from the different features Kant seems to assign to appearances and things in themselves. I propose a new way of understanding the appearance/thing in itself distinction via an Aristotelian notion that I call, following Kit Fine, a 'qua-object.' Understanding appearances and things in themselves as qua-objects provides a clear sense (...) in which they can be the same things while differing in many of their features. (shrink)
Kant identifies the “highest moral-physical good” as that combination of “good living” and “true humanity” which best harmonises in a “good meal in good company”. Why does Kant privilege the dinner party in this way? By examining Kant’s accounts of enlightenment, cosmopolitanism, love and respect, and gratitude and friendship, the answer to this question becomes clear. Kant’s moral ideal is that of an enlightened and just cosmopolitan human being who feels and acts with respect and love for all persons and (...) such an ideal is temporarily manifested in the sort of social interaction achievable at a good dinner party. (shrink)
In this paper, I discuss a problem for Kant's strategy of appealing to the agent qua noumenon to undermine the significance of determinism in his theory of free will. I then propose a solution. The problem is as follows: given determinism, how can some agent qua noumenon be 'the cause of the causality' of the appearances of that agent qua phenomenon without being the cause of the entire empirical causal series? This problem has been identified in the literature (Ralph (...) Walker provides what is perhaps the most dramatic presentation of it). But it has never received an adequate solution. In this paper, I argue that Walker’s objection is only decisive if we must understand our responsibility as responsibility for events, but not causal laws. I argue that we need not interpret Kant's theory in this way. I demonstrate that each agent qua noumenon could be responsible for "limited instantiation scope" causal laws which necessitate only the phenomenal actions of that same agent qua phenomenon. Part of this project involves showing that there are relevant constituents of actions which are "rare" enough to instantiate such laws. I demonstrate that, on Kant's view, events in agents’ bodies are not rare enough, but events in agents’ phenomenal souls are. (shrink)
There are striking structural similarities between Freud's ego and Kant's transcendental unity of apperception, which for Kant grounds our use of ‘I’ in ‘I think’. There are also striking similarities between Freud's superego and Kant's account of the mental structure that grounds our use of ‘I’ in the moral ‘I ought to’. The paper explores these similarities on three main points: the conflict of motivations internal to the mind, the relation between discursive and pre-discursive representation of moral motivation, (...) and the unconscious character of moral motivation. The suggestion is that Freud offers resources for a naturalized account (an account in terms of the causal development of empirical human beings) of just those features of our moral motivation that, according to Kant, seem to make it least amenable to a naturalistic explanation. How much of a revision of Kant's analysis of moral justification is thereby entailed is beyond the purview of the paper. (shrink)
This is a short review of a work by Bencivenga on Kant's ethics that argues for a view of Kant that treats his moral rules as not prescriptive but only transcendental and takes issue with this reading.
In the Anthropology, Kant wonders whether the genius or the individual possessing perfected judgment has contributed more to the advance of culture. In the KU, Kant answers this question definitively on the side of those with perfected judgment. Nevertheless, occurring as it does in §50 of the KU, immediately after Kant’s celebration of the genius in §49, this only raises more questions. Kant rejects the genius in favour of the individual of taste as an advancer of culture, yet under what (...) conditions could the genius contribute? And, what threat does the genius really pose to this advance, other than that of penning simple nonsense? This essay attempts to answer these questions, using key texts and overlooked Reflexionen, all of which nest Kant’s concern for the genius in the associated risks of fanaticism. I conclude that, given certain conditions, the genius can contribute in a unique manner to the advance of culture. (shrink)
I argue that, by the time of his essay "Concerning the Ultimate Ground of the Differentiation of Directions in Space" (1768), Kant had come to question the status of the Principle of Sufficient Reason as a result, at least in part, of his recognition of the existence of incongruent counterparts. Though Kant's argument against absolute space based on the existence of incongruent counterparts has been much discussed in recent years, its importance as a useful benchmark by which to judge (...) the direction of Kant’s thinking during this period has gone unnoticed. This paper is a modest attempt to remedy this deficiency. (shrink)
The paper interprets Kant’s neglected argument at FOUNDATIONS 401 as consisting of these two premises and conclusion: (1) It follows from consequentialism that in a natural paradise people would not be obligated to be morally good. (2) But this is absurd; one ought to be morally good no matter what. Therefore, consequentialism is false. It is shown that this argument is a powerful one, mainly by showing that independent grounds support (2) and that (1) may survive a number of strong (...) possible objections. One that it does not appear to survive, though, is that the paradise envisioned is not logically possible. (shrink)
This paper addresses the role of the notion of sacrifice in Kant’s theoretical philosophy, practical philosophy, and in his account of religion. First, I argue that kenotic sacrifice, or sacrifice as ‘withdrawal’, plays a hidden and yet important role in the development of Kant’s transcendental philosophy. Second, I focus on Kant’s practical philosophy, arguing that the notion of sacrifice that is both implied and explicitly analyzed by Kant is mainly suppressive sacrifice. However, Kant’s account is fundamentally ambiguous, as sometimes the (...) kenotic meaning of sacrifice seems to resurface, especially in the context of Kant’s discussion of the happiness of others as an end in itself. Because religious notions are regarded by Kant as necessary transitional forms (Darstellungen) to be used to make moral ideas applicable to the world, I then scrutinize Kant’s view of sacrifice as an improper symbol, and I analyze Kant’s arguments for such a dismissal and discuss the subject matter in recent literature. Finally, I examine the role of sacrifice in Kant’s account of Christ as the prototype of pure moral disposition. I conclude by arguing that Kant indeed grasped the importance of including kenotic dynamics in practical philosophy but was somehow unable or unwilling to integrate it into the formal grounding of his ethics. This tension, however, effectively provides an entry point for features that can be found in the post-Kantians. (shrink)
This paper discusses an apparent contrast between Kant’s accounts of the mathematical antinomies in the first Critique and in the Prolegomena. The Critique claims that the antitheses are infinite judgements. The Prolegomena seem to claim that they are negative judgements. For the Critique, theses and antitheses are false because they presuppose that the world has a determinate magnitude, and this is not the case. For the Prolegomena, theses and antitheses are false because they presuppose an inconsistent notion of world. The (...) paper argues that the contrast between the two works is only apparent, and provides an interpretation which removes it. (shrink)
Contemporary Kant-scholarship has a tendency to allign Kant’s understanding of depravity closer to Erasmus than Luther in their famous debate on the freedom of the will (1520–1527). While, at face value, some paragraphs do warrant such a claim, I will argue that Kant’s understanding of the radical evil will draws closer to Luther than Erasmus in a number of elements. These elements are (1) the intervention of the Wille for progress towards the good, (2) a positive choice for evil, (3) (...) the inscrutability of moral progress, (4) the rejection of prudence as a means for salvation and (5) the rejection of moral sentimentalism. I believe that Kant-scholarship mistakenly pegs Kant’s rational Enlightenment optimism for an existential optimism while Kant’s view of fallen nature draws closer to Lutheran than Erasmusian depravity. A tacit Lutheran influence pervades Kant’s moral philosophy which could explain the influence Kant’s has had on some more pessimistic 19th century philosophers such as Arthur Schopenhauer and Friedrich Nietzsche. (shrink)
Common opinion ascribes to Immanuel Kant the view that psychology cannot become a science properly so called, because it cannot be mathematized. It is equally common to claim that this reflects the state of the art of his times; that the quantification of the mind was not achieved during the eighteenth century, while it was so during the nineteenth century; or that Kant's so-called “impossibility claim” was refuted by nineteenth-century developments, which in turn opened one path for psychology to (...) become properly scientific. These opinions are often connected, but they are misguided nevertheless. -/- In Part I, I show how the issue of a quantification of the mind was discussed before Kant, and I analyze the philosophical considerations both of pessimistic and optimistic authors. This debate reveals a certain progress, although it remains ultimately undecided. In Part II, I present actual examples of measuring the mind in the eighteenth century and analyze their presuppositions. Although these examples are limited in certain ways, the common view that there was no such measurement is wrong. In Part III, I show how Kant's notorious “ impossibility claim” has to be viewed against its historical background. He not only accepts actual examples of a quantitative treatment of the mind, but also takes steps toward an explanation of their possibility. Thus, he does not advance the claim that the mind as such cannot be mathematized. His claim is directed against certain philosophical assumptions about the mind, assumptions shared by a then-dominating, strongly introspectionist conception of psychology. This conception did and could not provide an explanation of the possibility of quantifying the mind. In concluding, I reflect on how this case study helps to improve the dispute over when and why psychology became a science. (shrink)
Hume’s account of causation is often regarded a challenge Kant must overcome if the Critical philosophy is to be successful. But from Kant’s time to the present, Hume’s denial of our ability to cognize supersensible objects, a denial that relies heavily on his account of causation, has also been regarded as a forerunner to Kant’s critique of metaphysics. After identifying reasons for rejecting Wayne Waxman’s recent account of Kant’s debt to Hume, I present my own, more modest account of this (...) debt, an account that seeks to unite the two very different pictures of Kant’s relationship to Hume sketched above. (shrink)
Denis, Lara. Moral Self-Regard: Duties to Oneself in Kant's Moral Theory. New York: Garland Publishing. 2001. Engstrom, Stephen. “The Concept ofthe Highest Good in Kant's Moral The- ory.” Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 52, ...
In the second edition Preface of Religion Within the Bounds of Bare Reason Kant responds to an anonymous review of the first edition. We present the first English translation of this obscure book review. Following our translation, we summarize the reviewer's main points and evaluate the adequacy of Kant's replies to five criticisms, including two replies that Kant provides in footnotes added in the second edition. A key issue is the reviewer's claim that Religion adopts an implied standpoint, described (...) using transcendental terminology. Kant could have avoided much confusion surrounding Religion, had he taken this review more seriously. We therefore respond to three objections that Kant failed to address: how the Willer distinction enables the propensity to evil to be viewed as coexisting with freedom of choice; how moral improvement is possible, even though the propensity to evil is necessary and universal; and how a can be regarded as. (shrink)
Friedrich Paneth’s conception of “chemical element” has functioned as the official definition adopted by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry since 1923. Paneth maintains a distinction between empirical and “transcendental” concepts of element; furthermore, chemical science requires fluctuation between the two. The origin of the empirical-transcendental split is found in Immanuel Kant’s classic Critique of Pure Reason (1781/1787). The present paper examines Paneth’s foundational concept of element in light of Kant’s attempt, late in life, to revoke key distinctions (...) made in his Critique, including that of regulative and constitutive functions of reason. In a section of his Opus postumum devoted to the “Transition from the Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science to Physics,” Kant bends his philosophical system to address the newly emerging sciences of matter of his time. Specifically, he tried, without success, to develop the transcendental ground for microscale motions of bodies encountered in physical, electrical and chemical processes. Paneth’s discussion of chemical element does not take the Opus postumum into account, which is why it begins with a rejection of Kant’s rejection (in his earlier writings) of chemistry’s status as science. I make the case that Paneth’s definition of element effectively maintains something very like Kant’s critical separation of regulative and constitutive principles, while a advancing the concept of chemical science. (shrink)
Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason (1781) remains a landmark work of philosophy and one that most students will encounter at some point in their studies. At nearly seven hundred pages of detailed and complex argument it is a demanding and intimidating read. James O’Shea’s introduction to the Critique seeks to make it less so. Aimed primarily at students coming to the book for the first time, it provides step-by-step analysis in clear, unambiguous prose. The conceptual problems Kant sought to (...) resolve are outlined and his conclusions concerning the nature of human knowledge and the possibility of metaphysics, and the arguments for those conclusions, are explored. Key concepts are explained throughout and the reader is provided with an unrivalled route map through the many and varied parts of the text. In addition, O’Shea’s careful and insightful analysis offers much for more seasoned readers of Kant and his interpretation provides a significant contribution to recent work. -/- “Exhibiting both care and liveliness, the text provides what it set out to offer, namely] a readable and philosophically stimulating discussion of a difficult but seminal work. The discussion is genuinely approachable and clear without diminishing the difficulty of the problems it addresses. It provides students with a very helpful basis for understanding Kant’s book.” Graham Bird, Emeritus Professor of Philosophy, University of Manchester . (shrink)
This article roots Kant’s concept of disinterestedness, as he uses it in the Critique of Judgment, in Aristotle’s notion of philia by establishing a path from ethics to aesthetics and back. In this way, the third Critique turns out to be one of the main sources for a new ideal of humanity: the ideal suitable for late Enlightenment. This article argues that Kant reaches this fruitful use of disinterestedness by giving to Aristotle’s concept of philia an aesthetic turn.
Two currents of thought dominated Western philosophy in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries: Continental Rationalism and British Empiricism. Despite the gradual dissemination of British ideas on the Continent in the first decades of the eighteenth century, these fundamentally disparate philosophical outlooks seemed to be wholly irreconcilable. However, the publication of Immanuel Kant's Critique of Pure Reason in 1781 presented an entirely new method of philosophical reasoning that promised to combine the virtues of Rationalism with the scientific rigour of Empiricism. (...) This book offers the first extended analysis of Kant's method of proof in philosophy. The author constructs a model based on Kant's own statements about his procedure and then examines his famous proofs in light of it. Great emphasis is placed on historical accuracy and the debunking of popular myths about Kant's aims and doctrines. The result is a compelling new picture of Kant that will challenge current assumptions. (shrink)
This is the published version of a paper presented at the Hegel conference on the occasion of 200 years of Hegel's essay Glauben und Wissen, held in Jena in 2002. It concerns a critical Kantian account of Hegel's critique of Kant.
Ever since Kant asked: “How am I to develop the sense of freedom in spite of the restraint?” in his lecture on education, the tension between necessary educational influence and unacceptable restriction of the child’s individual development and freedom has been considered an educational paradox. Many have suggested solutions to the paradox; however, this article endorses recent discussions in educational philosophy that pursue the need to fundamentally rethink our understanding of education and upbringing. In this article it is argued that (...) it is incomprehensible to describe an intervention of an educator as a constraint on a child’s actions and that such an intervention would be in need of justification; as Kant and many others after him have done. Educational intervention should not be understood as a restriction of a child’s endeavour to learn, because any educational intervention is educational. Furthermore, it is argued that the notion of restraint is based on the concept of human beings as radically separated which lead to the assumption that education is restrictive per se. In contrast, this article argues that indoctrination, manipulation, and coercion are rather phenomena within our educational forms of life. Recognizing the interrelations between human beings should play a constitutive part in the conceptualisation of individual freedom. A bond with others is the foundation upon which a child develops its own identity and an understanding of itself as an agent who can express its own will and takes responsibility for its words and actions. (shrink)
In this article I argue that Kant's conception of dignity is commonly misunderstood. On the basis of a few passages in the Grundlegung scholars often attribute to Kant a view of dignity as an absolute inner value all human beings possess. However, a different picture emerges if one takes into account all the passages in which Kant uses ‘dignity’. I shall argue that Kant's conception of dignity is a more Stoic one: He conceives of dignity as sublimity ( (...) Erhabenheit ) or the highest elevation of something over something else. ‘Dignity’ expresses that something is ‘raised above’ all else. What it is raised above, and in virtue of what, depends on the context in which Kant uses ‘dignity’. For instance, he talks about the dignity of a monarch to refer to his rank as the ruler of his subjects. When Kant refers to the dignity of humanity, he expresses the view that human beings have a prerogative over the rest of nature in virtue of being free. What Kant is saying in the famous Grundlegung passage on dignity is that morality is raised above other determinations of will in that morality alone should be valued unconditionally. In unfolding the complicated usage of ‘dignity’ in Kant's works, my reading helps to bring out the coherence of his ethics. (shrink)
There are generally two controversial issues over Kant's solution to the free will problem. One is over whether he is a compatibilist or an incompatibilist and the other is over whether his solution is a success. In this paper, I will argue, regarding the first controversy, that “compatibilist” and “incompatibilist” are not the right terms to describe Kant for his unique views on freedom and determinism; but that of the two, incompatibilist is the more accurate description. Regarding the second (...) controversy, I will argue that Kant's solution to the free will problem is not a success because his effort in making the effects of freedom part of the field of appearance has made his solution incoherent and ambiguous. Despite this, I argue that Kant's attempt to solve the free will problem is groundbreaking because he at least has separated freedom from the dominance of determinism. (shrink)
Kant's Moral Law: Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals ranks with Plato's Republic and Aristotle's Ethics as one of the most important works of moral philosophy ever written. In Moral Law, Kant argues that a human action is only morally good if it is done from a sense of duty, and that a duty is a formal principle based not on self-interest or from a consideration of what results might follow. From this he derived his famous and controversial maxim, (...) the categorical imperative: "Act as if the maxim of your action were to become by your will a universal law of nature." H. J. Paton's translation remains the standard in English for this work. It retains all of Kant's liveliness of mind, suppressed intellectual excitement, moral earnestness, and pleasure in words. The commentary and detailed analysis that Paton provides is an invaluable and necessary guide for the student and general reader. (shrink)
Kant wrote two versions of the Transcendental Deduction, the first, “A-”Deduction in 1781, and the second, “B-”Deduction in 1787. Since Henrich's “The Proof Structure of Kant's Transcendental Deduction”, most work on the Transcendental Deduction attempts to make sense of the B-Deduction's two-step argument structure. Though the A-Deduction has suffered comparative neglect, it has received some attention from interpreters who take its extended treatment of the “subjective” side of cognition to amount to a brand of proto-functionalism. Whatever the merits and (...) demerits of these proto-functionalist approaches, they tend to deemphasize the two arguments that constitute the “objective” side of the A-Deduction, the “argument from above” and then the “argument from below”. Since Kant himself refers to this objective side of the A-Deduction as the “Deduction of the Pure Concepts of the Understanding”, it is surprising that the structure of these arguments has not received closer scrutiny. This is doubly true since Kant actually claims that his revisions for the 1787 version of the Deduction impacted only the “presentation” of it. Any lessons learned from the central arguments of the A-Deduction should help clarify the structure of its younger and more closely studied brother. (shrink)
This paper argues that Immanuel Kant’s practical philosophy contains a coherent, albeit implicit, defense of the legitimacy of capital punishment, one that refutes the most important objections leveled against it. I first show that Kant is consistent in his application of the ius talionis. I then explain how Kant can respond to the claim that death penalty violates the inviolable right to life. To address the most significant objection – the claim that execution violates human dignity – I argue that (...) motives of honor, as Kant conceives it, require a rational person to will her own execution, were she to commit murder. (shrink)
Early in the Preface to Religion within the Limits of Reason Alone, Kant claims that “morality leads ineluctably to religion”. This thesis is hardly an innovation of the Religion. Again and again throughout the critical corpus, Kant argues that religious belief is ethically significant, that it makes a morally meaningful difference whether an agent believes or disbelieves. And yet these claims are surely among the most doubted of Kant's positions – and they are often especially doubted by readers who (...) consider themselves Kantians. That Kant of all people should have so cherished religion is perhaps surprising: his moral view enshrines the notion that moral worth arises solely form the “good will”, that is, from a will determined by the moral law. Kant claims to be able to deduce this law and to account for how it motivates without ever relying on religious propositions. Rather, he grounds morality in the conception of autonomy, in the absolutely free self-legislation of the moral principle. So why, after effecting this dramatic Copernican revolution in ethics, does Kant appear to backslide, insisting on the moral necessity of religious belief? (shrink)
The article surveys Kant’s treatment of biological teleology in the ’Critique of Judgment’, with special attention to the question of whether the notion of natural teleology is coherent. It argues that our entitlement to regard nature as teleological is not established by the argument of the ’Antinomy’, but rather results from our entitlement to regard the workings of our own cognitive faculties in normative terms. This implies a view of the relation between biological teleology and the representational character of mind (...) which is the reverse of that adopted by naturalistic theorists of mind like Fred Dretske and Ruth Millikan. (shrink)
Although Kant is not usually counted among the forerunners of social sciences, any look at the work of the most prominent social theorists of the past century shows the pervasive influence of Kant's philosophy. This influence is obvious and crucial at the epistemological level, if only because Kant himself set the frame for subsequent discussion of the difference between human and natural sciences. Yet, Kant's work is also rich in substantive contributions to social theory, which may be articulated (...) around his conception of culture and cultural progress. (shrink)
Maimon once described the philosophical project underlying his Essay on Transcendental Philosophy as an attempt “to unify Kantian philosophy with Spinozism ”. But in the only reference to Spinoza in the Essay , he stresses that Spinoza was not the source of his argument. In this paper I will argue that, notwithstanding the disclaimer, Maimon's solution for the problems that in his view haunted Kant's theory of knowledge was indeed significantly influenced by Spinoza, as well as by the medieval (...) Jewish Aristotelian Maimonides. Since the key concept in the solution proposed by Maimon is the metaphysical doctrine of the “infinite intellect”, my focus will be on clarifying how this doctrine is related to Maimonides' doctrine of the divine intellect and to Spinoza's doctrine of Deus sive Natura . My main contention is that important aspects of Maimon's doctrine of the “infinite intellect” are based on a Spinozistic interpretation of Maimonides' doctrine of the divine intellect. (shrink)
The period from Kant to Hegel is one of the most intense and rigorous in modern philosophy. The central problem at the heart of it was the development of a new standard of theoretical reflection and of the principle of rationality itself. The essays in this volume consider both the development of Kant's system of transcendental idealism in the three Critiques, the Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science, and the Opus Postumum, as well as the reception and transformation of that (...) idealism in the work of Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel. The contributors include many of today's preeminent philosophers of German idealism. (shrink)
This paper examines the methodological problem of casuistry by reference to Immanuel Kant's position on it. He addressed “Casuistical Questions” in his last work on ethics, Metaphysik der Sitten , in order to defend his position against attacks from scholars defending an Aristotelian (and also Ciceronian) eudemonistic viewpoint. It is argued that Kantian casuistry has much in common with the Aristotelian idea of emphasizing the moral objectives and sensibility of an agent in concrete circumstances. Nevertheless, Kant did not entirely (...) adopt the case-oriented ethical perspective because he saw the moral duty as the „wide“ one. Moral duties are wide in the sense that they demand continuous self-examination: asking whether there might be a better way to limit one's maxim by another. According to Kant, although casuistry as a case study could give moral law or duties more practicability through the training of moral judgment, the moral agent cannot use with individual cases in order to modify or devise new moral rules or duties. (shrink)
In an effort to account for our a priori knowledge of synthetic necessary truths, Kant proposes to extend the successful method used in mathematics and the natural sciences to metaphysics. In this paper, a uniform account of that method is proposed and the particular contribution of the ‘Copernican hypothesis’ to our knowledge of necessary truths is explained. It is argued that, though the necessity of the truths is in a way owing to the object's relation to our cognition, the truths (...) we come to know are fully objective, expressing necessary relations between properties. Kant's distinction between ‘phenomena’ and ‘noumena’ is shown to serve to properly restrict the scope of the necessity claims so that they do express necessary connections between properties. (shrink)
It is quite standard, even banal, to describe Kant's project in the Critique of Pure Reason [KrV] as a critical reconciliation of rationalism and empiricism, most directly expressed in Kant's claim that intuitions and concepts are two distinct, yet equally necessary, and necessarily interdependent sources of cognition. Similarly, though Kant rejects both the rationalist foundation of morality in the concept of perfection and that of the empiricists in feeling or in the moral sense, one might broadly characterize (...) class='Hi'>Kant's moral philosophy as an attempt to reconcile the apriori universality and necessity of rationalist ethics with empiricist (Humean) or sentimentalist (Rousseauean) strictures concerning the distinction between the ‘ought’ and the ‘is’, between third personal knowledge of the good and first personal motivation. (shrink)
Henry Allison's “Incorporation Thesis” has played an important role in recent discussions of Kantian ethics. By focussing on Kant's claim that “a drive [Triebfeder] can determine the will to an action only so far as the individual has incorporated it into his maxim,” (Rel 19, translation slightly modified) Allison has successfully argued against Kant's critics that desire-based non-moral action can be free action. His work has thus opened the door for a wide range of discussions which integrate (...) feeling into moral action more deeply than had previously been considered “Kantian”. (shrink)
This collection of seminal essays on Kant's Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics provides the student of philosophy with an invaluable overview of the issues and problems raised by Kant. Starting with the Carus translation of Kant's work, the edition offers a substantive introduction, six papers never before published together, and a comprehensive bibliography. Special attention is paid to the relationship between Kant and David Hume, whose philosophical investigations, according to Kant's famous quote, first interrupted Kant's "dogmatic (...) slumber.". (shrink)
The second analogy of experience is one of the most famous and crucial parts of Kant's Critique of Pure Reason. Despite 220 years of intense scrutiny and debate, however, no consensus has emerged as to the precise nature of its argument. A main source of disagreement in recent years has been the following question: With what is Kant concerned in this section? Is he concerned with (1) necessary conditions of our believing in the first place that there has been (...) a case of objective as opposed to merely subjective succession? Is he concerned, in other words, with necessary conditions of our at least seeming to be aware or having any representation at all (whether veridical or not) of an event? Or is he concerned merely with (2) conditions under which alone beliefs of some sort can be verified or confirmed? The second of these possibilities has found its most eloquent champion in Paul Guyer; the first has been defended with great ingenuity by Beatrice Longuenesse. (shrink)
The concept of political authority is the guiding problematic of Kant's mature political philosophy. The proper foundation of state authority lies, according to him, in the idea of an “original contract” and it is only in terms of this regulative principle that the sovereign nature of the state can even be conceived. By placing this doctrine at the core of his political thought Kant appears to affirm the fundamental tenet of the contractarian tradition: legitimate political authority arises only from (...) the consent of those under such authority. (shrink)
In this paper I argue, first, that Kant's technical definition of purposiveness in § 10 of the third Critique is designed to abstract from all forward-looking considerations (teleological, intentional, normative, etc.) that accompany the conventional understanding of the term. Kant seeks to establish a strictly backward-looking, etiological conception of purposiveness in order to capture the causal link connecting artifacts with their concepts. I argue, second, that he succeeds. Kant's etiological conception of purposiveness neither collapses into mere mechanism, nor (...) smuggles normative considerations in through the backdoor. I frame my discussion by critically engaging Hannah Ginsborg's reading of § 10 – a leading representative of normative interpretations of Kant's notion of purposiveness. (shrink)
In recent years, there has been a growing interest in Kant's doctrine of radical evil, arising from as diverse quarters as philosophy, psychoanalysis and the social sciences. This interest has contributed to the revival of the notion of evil, which had been displaced from the center of philosophical discussion in the 20th century. A common trait in the recent literature is that it takes the relevance of the use of the concept of evil for granted. Yet, before understanding what (...) Kant really means by radical evil, it seems appropriate to ask first whether the notion of evil as such is necessary. For, given its religious background, this notion elicits expectations that may be incompatible with the secular concerns of moral philosophy. Such misgivings are aggravated by additional doubts about the concept's explanatory function in the first place. The pertinence of reviving a concept so allegedly flawed cannot be taken at face value. Thus, the task I set for myself here is to show the necessity of the concept of evil as it lies at the core of Kant's moral philosophy already in the Groundwork, far before he actually coins the notion of “radical evil” in the Religion. Whether this latter account is defensible or not, we will at least be sure that talk about an evil which is said to be radical is not in vain. (shrink)
This paper is an exposition and defense of Kant’s philosophy of geometry. The main thesis is that Euclidean geometry investigates the properties of geometrical objects in an inner space that is given to us a priori (pure space) and hence is a priori and synthetic. This thesis is supported by arguing that Euclidean geometry requires certain intuitive objects (Sect. 1), that these objects are a priori constructions in pure space (Sect. 2), and finally that the role of geometrical construction is (...) to provide geometrical objects, not concepts, as some have claimed (Sect. 3). (shrink)