Gauthier’s contractarianism begins with an idea of a rational deliberator but ‘finds no basis for postulating a moral need for the justification of one’s actions to others. The role of agreement is to address each person’s demand that the constraints of society be justified to him, not a concern that he justify himself to his fellows’ (Gauther 1997, 134–5). He contrasts his view with Scanlon’s contractualism, according to which agreement with others is the core of morality and each agent has (...) the burden of justifying his or her actions to others. Both of their views count as ‘constructivist’ because they reject moral realism and hold that normativity is a function of what we do, either individually or collectively. Kant’s Rechtslehre is neutral regarding moral realism and yet constructivist about moral norms. However, the relevant acts basic to Gauthier’s and Scanlon’s views concern voluntary agreements we make. Using agreement to establish basic norms faces some serious difficulties. Kant’s Rechtslehre avoids these problems by showing how basic social norms can be identified and justified independently of voluntary agreement. Moreover, it does so in a way that shows that an individual’s justification of his or her acts to others and the justification of the acts of others to any individual are inseparable aspects of one and the same justificatory reasons in which voluntary agreement plays no role. (shrink)
Hume sought to analyse our propositionally-structured thought in terms of our ultimate awareness of nothing but objects, sensory impressions or their imagistic copies, The ideas of space and time are often regarded as exceptions to his Copy Theory of impressions and ideas. On grounds strictly internal to Humes account of the generality of thought. This ultimately reveals the limits of the Copy Theory and of Concept Empiricism. The key is to recognise how very capacious is our (Humean) imaginative capacity to (...) associate particular perceptions by various fine-grained determinable resemblances. (shrink)
Rousseau's Du contrat social develops an important, unjustly neglected type of theory, which I call 'Natural Law Constructivism' ('NLC'), which identifies and justifies strictly objective basic moral principles, with no appeal to moral realism or its alternatives, nor to elective agreement, nor to prudentialist reasoning. The Euthyphro Question marks a dilemma in moral theory which highlights relations between artifice and arbitrariness. These relations highlight the significance of Hume's founding insight into NLC, and how NLC addresses Hobbes's insight that our most (...) fundamental moral problems concern social coordination. Part 2 systematically re-examines the core of Rousseau's theory of justice to show that it assigns no constitutive role to contractual agreement in identifying or justifying basic normative principles. Part 3 highlights his NLC. (shrink)
This paper argues that moral particularism, defined as the view that moral judgment does not require moral principles, depends upon a constricted and untenable view of rational judgment as simple syllogistic ratiocination. This I demonstrate by re-examining Nussbaum’s (1986/2002) case for particularism based on Sophocles’ Antigone. The central role of principles in moral judgment and in educational theory is supported by explicating ‘mature judgment’, which highlights key features of Thomas Green’s account of norm acquisition and of Kant’s account of the (...) autonomy of rational judgment. (shrink)
My contribution to a book symposium on Graham’s commentary on Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason, sponsored by the North American and the UK Kant Societies, held in conjunction with the Central Division Meeting of the American Philosophical Association, Chicago, 20 February 2009. Comments also delivered by Adrian Moore, Gary Banham, Jill Buroker and Manfred Kuehn, with relplies by Graham Bird.
Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason contains an original and powerful semantics of singular cognitive reference which has important implications for epistemology and for philosophy of science. Here I argue that Kant’s semantics directly and strongly supports Newton’s Rule 4 of Philosophy in ways which support Newton’s realism about gravitational force. I begin with Newton’s Rule 4 of Philosophy and its role in Newton’s justification of realism about gravitational force (§2). Next I briefly summarize Kant’s semantics of singular cognitive reference (§3), (...) and then show that it is embedded in and strongly supports Newton’s Rule 4, and that it rules out not only Cartesian physics (per Harper) but also Cartesian, infallibilist presumptions about empirical justification generally (§4). This result exposes a key fallacy in Bas van Fraassen’s original argument for his anti-realist Constructive Empiricism (§5). (shrink)
This paper characterises concisely a key issue about rational justification which highlights an important achievement of Kant’s constructivist method for identifying and justifying basic norms: uniquely, it resolves the Pyrrhonian Dilemma of the Criterion. Kant’s constructivist method is both sound and significant because it is based on core principles of rational justification as such. Explicating this basis of Kant’s constructivism affords an illuminating and defensible explication of four key aspects of the autonomy of rational judgment, including our positive moral freedom; (...) it shows how Kant’s constructivism is fundamentally social and it shows how Kant’s constructivism can readily accommodate historical factors which bear on the appropriateness and legitimacy of social and political institutions. All of these advantages are available without recourse to Kant’s transcendental idealism, and all of them respond to common complaints about or alleged objections to Kant’s practical philosophy. (shrink)
If Hegel’s 1807 Phenomenology is to justify our capacity to know the world as it is, by examining a complete series of forms of consciousness, why and with what justification does he omit the Cartesian ego-centric predicament? By augmenting Franco Chiereghin’s explication of Hegel’s concept of thought, and of why Hegel provides it only at the start of the second half of ‘Self-Consciousness’, this paper shows how Hegel showed that Pyrrhonian, Cartesian and Humean scepticism, and also mental content internalism, all (...) depend upon the deductivist model of rational justification (scientia), and that this model is suited only to strictly formal domains, not to the non-formal substantive domain of empirical knowledge. Hegel thus refutes the epistemological presuppositions of the ego-centric predicament; hence he may omit it from the forms of consciousness examined in the Phenomenology. (shrink)
(Title: ‘Judgment, Mutual Recognition and Rational Justification’.) This paper extends my prior analysis of Hegel’s solution to the Pyrrhonian Dilemma of the Criterion (which is more serious than Chisholm’s ‘Problem of the Criterion’) to moral philosophy. So doing provides a uniform account of rational justification in non-formal, substantive domains, i.e. empirical knowledge and morals. It argues that the Pyrrhonian Dilemma refutes both foundationalist and coherentist models of justification, and raises serious issues about the justificatory adequacy of contemporary forms of moral (...) constructivism. It explicates and defends Kant’s account of the autonomy of reason as the self-critical regulation of one’s own thought and judgment in view of relevant principles, standards, evidence and alternative analyses. It argues that Kant’s account of autonomy is defensible independently of transcendental idealism and of natural causality. Due to our fallibility and incomplete knowledge and understanding, our individual critical self-assessment requires the constructive mutual criticism of others. Hence maximally rational justification in non-formal, substantive domains is in part, ineliminably, a social and historical phenomenon. These aspects of rational justification are consistent with, and ultimately support, realism about the objects of empirical knowledge and strict objectivity about basic moral principles. One’s own maximally rational justification of non-formal, substantive claims or views accordingly requires recognition of one’s justificatory dependence upon the constructive criticism of others. This requires recognizing their capacities for critical assessment and rational justification. This is the most fundamental (and heretofore neglected) form of mutual recognition in Hegel’s analysis. It provides direct and powerful justification for Kant’s thesis that we ought and must respect all others as autonomous rational agents, as agents who can think and act on the basis of justifying reasons. This justification is independent of Kant’s account of ‘dignity’ or the incommensurable value of rational agency. (shrink)
Rejection of the philosophical relevance of history of philosophy remains pronounced within contemporary analytic philosophy. The two main reasons for this rejection presuppose that strict deduction is both necessary and sufficient for rational justification. However, this justificatory ideal of scientia holds only within strictly formal domains. This is confirmed by a neglected non-sequitur in van Fraassen’s original defence of ‘Constructive Empiricism’. Conversely, strict deduction is insufficient for rational justification in non-formal, substantive domains of inquiry. In non-formal, substantive domains, rational justification (...) is also, in part, ineliminably social and historical, for sound reasons Hegel was the first to articulate. Demonstrating this involves considering closely two key reasons many analytic philosophers (still) reject the philosophical relevance of historical philosophy (§2). As specific example of presumed, though fallacious, deductivism about justification in the non-formal domain of empirical knowledge is found in van Fraassen’s (1980) defence of ‘Constructive Empiricism’ (§3). These first two sections contend that philosophical consideration of historical philosophy is required to properly formulate key issues in non-formal domains. I next consider the further issues involved rational justification in non-formal domains, issues quintessentially posed by the Pyrrhonian Dilemma of the Criterion (§4). Finally I consider what kind of history of philosophy is required for cogent philosophy in non-formal domains (§5). (shrink)
Hume and contemporary Humeans contend that moral sentiments form the sole and sufficient basis of moral judgments. This thesis is criticised by appeal to Hume’s theory of justice, which shows that basic principles of justice are required to form and to maintain society, which is indispensable to human life, and that acting according to, or violating, these principles is right, or wrong, regardless of anyone’s sentiments, motives or character. Furthermore, Hume’s theory of justice shows how the principles of justice are (...) artificial without being arbitrary. In this regard, Hume’s theory belongs to the unjustly neglected modern natural law tradition. Some key merits of this strand in Hume’s theory are explicated by linking it to Kant’s constructivist method of identifying and justifying practical principles (à la O’Neill), and by showing how and why Hegel adopted and further developed Kant’s constructivism by re-integrating it with Hume’s central natural law concern with our actual social practices. (Slightly revised English translation by the author of „Von der Konvention zur Sittlichkeit. Humes Begründung einer Rechtsethik aus nach-Kantischer Perspektive“, on which see below.). (shrink)
A 5,000-word conspectus of Hegel’s moral philosophy which considers the theoretical context of his moral philosophy (§1), his accounts of legal, personal, moral and social freedom (§2), the structure of Hegel’s analysis in his Philosophy of Justice (or »Rechtsphilosophie«) (§3), his account of role obligations as a central component of social freedom (§4), and his integrated account of individual autonomy and social reconciliation (§5).
Though philosophical antipodes, Hegel and Russell were profound philosophical revolutionaries. They both subjected contemporaneous philosophy to searching critique, and they addressed many important issues about the character of philosophy itself. Examining their disagreements is enormously fruitful. Here I focus on one central issue raised in Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit: the tenability of the foundationalist model of rational justification. I consider both the general question of the tenability of the foundationalist model itself, and the specific question of the tenability of Russell’s (...) preferred foundations of empirical knowledge, namely sense data. The stage is set by briefly considering Russell’s philosophical revolt (§2). I examine Russell’s neglect of the Pyrrhonian Dilemma of the Criterion (§3), and then consider Russell’s appeal to “knowledge by acquaintance”—the very view Hegel criticized under the banner of “Sense Certainty” (§4). I argue that Hegel’s internal critique of “Sense Certainty” refutes Russell’s “knowledge by acquaintance” and undermines Russell’s ahistorical approach to philosophy. (This article supercedes ‘“Sense Certainty”, or Why Russell had no “Knowledge by Acquaintance”’. The Bulletin of the Hegel Society of Great Britain 45/46 (2002):110–23.). (shrink)
This chapter considers the centrality of principles in Kant’s moral philosophy, their distinctively ‘Kantian’ character, why Kant presents a ‘metaphysical’ system of moral principles and how these ‘formal’ principles are to be used in practice. These points are central to how Kant thinks pure reason can be practical. These features have often puzzled Anglophone readers, in part due to focusing on Kant’s Groundwork, to the neglect of his later works in moral philosophy, in which the theoretical preliminaries of that first (...) essay are properly articulated. In part, however, these puzzles stem, directly or indirectly, from Kant’s opposition to moral empiricism, which is bound to puzzle Anglophone readers, whose default orientation is empiricist. Accordingly, particular attention is paid to Kant’s reasons for rejecting moral empiricism and for developing an alternative to it, to Kant’s account of how his universalization tests serve as criteria of morally obligatory, permissible or prohibited actions and to his account of what is morally wrong with actions which violate those criteria. Examining these points provides a compelling synopsis of Kant’s system of moral principles, centring on the key terms ‘practical reason’, ‘law’, ‘maxim’ and ‘Categorical Imperative’. (shrink)
This paper critically examines three key works of analytic Kantianism: C. I. Lewis, Mind and the World Order (1929), P. F. Strawson, The Bounds of Sense (1966) and Wilfrid Sellars, Science and Metaphysics (1968), focusing on their very different approaches to Kant’s Transcendental Deduction.
This paper (in English) highlights a hitherto neglected feature of Hegel’s 1807 Phenomenology of Spirit: its critique of the content of our basic categorial concepts. It focusses on Hegel’s semantics of cognitive reference in ‘Sense Certainty’ and his use of this semantics also in ‘Perception’ and ‘Force and Understanding’. Explicating these points enables us to understand how Hegel criticizes Pyrrhonian Scepticism on internal grounds.
The three presumptions that Hegel’s idealism further develops or radicalises Kant’s transcendental idealism, that their respective versions of idealism are linked by Kant’s account of self-positing (Selbstsetzungslehre) in the late opus postumum and that the basic model of Hegel’s early idealism holds also for his mature system are wide-spread and largely unexamined. This paper examines several problems confronting these presumptions, including Hegel’s refutation of the basic premises of Kant’s transcendental idealism and Transzendentalphilosophie in the late opus postumum (§2), Hegel’s critical (...) rejection of intellectual intuition because it cannot escape Pyrrhonian scepticism (§3), and his critical rejection of the deductivist ideal of scientia, which undergirds Kant’s transcendental idealism and his late Transzendentalphilosophie (§4), the highly un-Kantian principles of Hegel’s mature idealism (§5) and finally Hegel’s thorough and incisive critique in the 1807 Phenomenology of Spirit of common philosophical views, concepts and presuppositions, including those which undergird the three presumptions noted above (§6). To understand properly Hegel’s philosophy of nature and hence also his philosophical system requires abandoning those three presumptions. (shrink)
This chapter argues that Hegel is a major (albeit unrecognized) epistemologist: Hegel’s Introduction provides the key to his phenomenological method by showing that the Pyrrhonian Dilemma of the Criterion refutes traditional coherentist and foundationalist theories of justification. Hegel then solves this Dilemma by analyzing the possibility of constructive self- and mutual criticism. ‘Sense Certainty’ provides a sound internal critique of ‘knowledge by acquaintance’, thus undermining a key tenet of Concept Empiricism, a view Hegel further undermines by showing that a series (...) of non-logical a priori concepts must be used to identify any particular object of experience. Most importantly, Hegel justifies a semantics of singular cognitive reference with important anti-skeptical implications. ‘Perception’ extends Hegel’s criticism Concept Empiricism by exposing the inadequacy of Modern theories of perception (and also sense data theories) which lack a tenable concept of the identity of perceptible things. Hegel demonstrates that this concept is a priori and integrates two counterposed sub-concepts, ‘unity’ and ‘plurality’. Hegel’s examination of this concept reveals his clear awareness of what is now called the ‘binding problem’ in neurophysiology of perception, a problem only very recently noticed by epistemologists. ‘Force and Understanding’ exposes a fatal equivocation in the traditional concept of substance which thwarts our understanding of force and causal interaction. Hegel’s disambiguation of that concept enables us to comprehend how relations can be essential to physical particulars. Hegel contends that Newtonian universal gravitation shows that gravitational relations are essential to physical particulars, and he criticizes a series of attempts—including the infamous ‘inverted world’—to avoid this conclusion. Hegel’s cognitive semantics supports Newton’s Fourth Rule of philosophizing, which rejects mere logical possibilities as counter-examples to empirical hypotheses. This is an important anti-Cartesian, also anti-empiricist, insight. Finally, Hegel’s cognitive semantics reveals a previously unnoticed link between Pyrrhonian and Cartesian skepticism and empiricist anti-realism about causality within philosophy of science: all three appeal to premises, hypotheses, or counter-examples which, as mere logical possibilities, lack in principle fully determinate, cognitively legitimate meaning. ‘Consciousness’ thus establishes basic principles and features of human cognition to which Hegel returns throughout the Phenomenology. The chapter concludes by summarizing Hegel’s over-arching epistemological analysis in the Phenomenology. (shrink)
Abstract: This paper explicates and defends the thesis that individual rational judgment, of the kind required for justification, whether in cognition or in morals, is fundamentally socially and historically conditioned. This puts paid to the traditional distinction, still influential today, between ‘rational’ and ‘historical’ knowledge. The present analysis highlights and defends key themes from Kant’s and Hegel’s accounts of rational judgment and justification, including four fundamental features of the ‘autonomy’ of rational judgment and one key point of Hegel’s account of (...) ‘mutual recognition’. These themes are linked to Kant’s and Hegel’s transformation of the modern natural law tradition. The results explain why Kant’s and Hegel’s philosophy are indeed the origins of the properly pragmatic account of rationality, why the pragmatic account of rationality provides genuine rational justification and why this pragmatic account of rational justification is consistent with realism about the objects of empirical knowledge and with strict objectivity about moral norms. > Russian translation (original version): Nelly Motroshilova, ed., К 200-летию выхода в свет «Феноменологии духа» Гегеля (Москва: Канон+, 2009) (200 Jahre der „Phänomenologie des Geistes“ von G. W. F. Hegel, Moscow: Kanon+, 2009), 195–219. > Turkish translation (excerpt): ‘Hegel’in Tinin Görüngübilimi’nde Karşihkh Onanma ve Ussal Gerekçelendirme’. MonoKL 4–5 (2008):212–231. (http://www.monokl.net/html/yenisayi.html). (shrink)
This groundbreaking collective commentary on the whole of Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit, written by a select group of leading international scholars, peels back the layers of Hegel’s great work to reveal new insights into one of the most challenging works in the history of Western philosophy. By closely analyzing the original text, each essay illuminates the philosophical issues addressed in each section of Hegel’s work. By considering the role and function of each section of text within the Phenomenology as a (...) whole, these essays achieve an impressive degree of integration. Individually and collectively, these essays address the question of the internal unity of the Phenomenology, shedding further light on its true cohesiveness. The essays are suitable for advanced undergraduates and non-specialists, whilst also making original contributions to the field. The Guide begins with a synopsis of Hegel’s Phenomenology by the editor based on the Guide’s contributions; it features a select Bibliography of further sources on each chapter of the Phenomenology and comprehensive analytical indexes. Contents: Introduction, (1) Kenneth R. Westphal: “Hegel’s Phenomenological Method and Analysis of Consciousness”; (2) Frederick Neuhouser: “Desire, Recognition, and the Relation between Bondsman and Lord”; (3) Franco Chiereghin: “Freedom and Thought: Stoicism, Skepticism, and Unhappy Consciousness”; (4) Cinzia Ferrini: “The Certainty and Truth of Reason”; (5) Cinzia Ferrini: “Reason Observing Nature”; (6) Terry Pinkard: “Shapes of Active Reason: The Law of the Heart, Retrieved Virtue, and What Really Matters”; (7) David C. Hoy: “The Ethics of Freedom: Hegel on Reason as Law-Giving and Law-Testing”; (8) Jocelyn Hoy: “The Spirit of Ancient Greece in Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit”; (9) Jürgen Stolzenberg: “Hegel’s Critique of the Enlightenment in ‘The struggle of the Enlightenment with Superstition’”; (10) Frederick C. Beiser: “Morality and Conscience in Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit”; (11) George di Giovanni: “Religion, History, and Spirit in Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit”; (12) Allegra de Laurentiis: “Absolute Knowing”; (13)Marina Bykova: “Spirit and Concrete Subjectivity in Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit”; General Bibliography, Index of Names, Index of Subjects, Table of Concordances. (xxvi + 315 pages.). (shrink)
This paper examines Hegel’s ontological revolution in ‘Force and Understanding’. I argue that understanding Hegel’s critical engagement with natural science is important for understanding Hegel’s 1807 Phenomenology of Spirit as well as his mature philosophy as a whole. Already in this chapter Hegel argues that philosophical theory of knowledge must take the natural sciences into close consideration. Hegel disambiguates the standard concept of substance in order to show that relational properties can be essential to particular individuals. He further argues that (...) Newtonian gravitational theory suffices to show that gravitational force is essential to matter. These are important tenets of Hegel’s moderately holistic ontology, according to which individuals and their relations are mutually interdependent for their existence and characteristics. These tenets enable Hegel to expose a number of misconceptions about causal forces central to empiricist causal scepticism, to illuminate the causal realism involved in and justified by Newtonian gravitational theory (once it is recast by Bernoulli on the basis of mathematical analysis), the explanatory power provided by theoretical integration of special theories within more general theories and also the crucial semantic role played by special theories for the general theory which subsumes them. (shrink)
Henry Harris noted that ‘the Baconian applied science of this world is the solid foundation upon which Hegel’s ladder of spiritual experience rests’. Understanding the philosophical character of Hegel’s Philosophy of Nature requires recognizing some basic legitimate philosophical issues embedded in the development of physics from Galileo to Newton (§2). These issues illuminate the character of Hegel’s analysis of philosophical issues regarding nature (§3) and the central aims and purposes of Hegel’s philosophy of nature (§4). Hegel recognized some key weaknesses (...) in Newton’s own mathematical treatment of planetary orbits which were only rectified when Johann Bernoulli recast Newtonian gravitational theory on the basis of mathematical analysis (calculus). So reconstructed, Newtonian physics provides sufficient grounds to ascribe gravitational force to matter (Enz. §§262, 269). Hegel incorporated this important point into his illuminating accounts of causal laws of nature and natural-scientific explanation. These points reveal how Hegel’s Science of Logic and Philosophy of Nature are interdependent works, integrated in part by Hegel’s critical, moderately holistic theory of semantic meaning and reference. Highlighting these features of Hegel’s Philosophy of Nature illuminates Hegel’s emergentist account of structural and functional organization of various kinds of natural phenomena. (shrink)
Kant was the first great anti-Cartesian in epistemology and philosophy of mind. He criticised five central tenets of Cartesianism and developed sophisticated alternatives to them. His transcendental analysis of the necessary a priori conditions for the very possibility of self-conscious human experience invokes externalism about justification and proves externalism about mental content. Semantic concern with the unity of the proposition—required for propositionally structured awareness and self-awareness—is central to Kant’s account of the unity of any cognitive judgment. The perceptual ‘binding problem’ (...) is central to Kant’s account of the unity of the object in perception. This paper outlines Kant’s development and justification of his a rationalist account of our active intellect and its roles in perceptual consciousness and in rational judgment, including our consciousness of our rational freedom, all through a radically innovative transcendental inquiry into the necessary a priori conditions for us to be conscious at all. Kant’s anti-Cartesianism is a major philosophical breakthrough far surpassing contemporary anti-Cartesian efforts. It behoves us to give Kant his due and avail ourselves of his profound insights into the nature of human mindedness. (shrink)
Hegel’s idealism and his epistemology have been seriously misunderstood due to various deep-set preconceptions of Hegel’s expositors. Thesepreconceptions include: Idealism is inherently subjective; Hegel’s epistemology invokes intellectual intuition; Hegel was not much concerned with natural science; Natural science has no basic role to play in Hegel’s Logic. In criticizing these notions, I highlight four key features of Hegel’s account of intelligence: (1) Human cognition is active, and forges genuine cognitive links to objects that exist and have intrinsic characteristics, regardless of (...) what we may think, believe, or say about them; (2) The Denkbestimmungen that structure and thus characterize worldly objects and events can only be grasped by intelligence (not merely by consciousness); (3) Intelligence obtains genuine objectivity by correctly identifying characteristics of a known object; (4) Central to our intelligent comprehension of Denkbestimmungen is natural scientific investigation. These findings show that Hegel’s Logic is much more closely tied with Naturphilosophie and with natural science than is commonly supposed. I conclude with eight hermeneutical pointers for understanding Hegel’s writings. (shrink)
‘Kant’s Anti-Cartesianism’. Dialogue 46.4 (2007):709–715. (Preçis of K. R. Westphal, Kant’s Transcendental Proof of Realism; Cambridge, 2004.) -/- > ‘Proving Realism Transcendentally: Replies to Rolf George and William Harper’. Dialogue 46.4 (2007):737–750. (Concluding replies in this symposium on *Kant’s Transcendental Proof of Realism*.).
Onora O’Neill has contributed enormously to moral philosophy (broadly speaking, including both ethics and political philosophy) by identifying Kant’s unique and powerful form of normative constructivism. Frederick Neuhouser has contributed similarly by showing that all of Hegel’s standards of moral rationality aim to insure the complete development of three distinct, complementary forms of personal, moral and social freedom. However, Neuhouser’s study does not examine Hegel’s justificatory methods and principles. The present article aims to reinforce and extend Neuhouser’s findings by explicating (...) Hegel’s basic principles for justifying practical norms. Surprisingly, Hegel’s basic principles of normative justification are rooted in Kant’s constructivism, as explicated by O’Neill. Hegel’s adaptation and development of Kant’s constructivism results in a powerful form of constructivism about moral principles which merits contemporary interest because it is more powerful and more objectivist than familiar contemporary forms of constructivism. (Slightly revised English translation by the author of „Objektive Gültigkeit zwischen Gegebenem und Gemachtem. Hegels kantischer Konstruktivismus in der praktischen Philosophie“). (shrink)
Argues inter alia that Kant and Hegel identified necessary conditions for the possibility of singular cognitive reference that incorporate avant la lettre Evans’ (1975) analysis of identity and predication, that Kant’s and Hegel’s semantics of singular cognitive reference are crucial to McDowell’s account of singular thoughts, and that McDowell has neglected (to the detriment of his own view) these conditions and their central roles in Kant’s and in Hegel’s theories of knowledge. > Reprinted in: J. Lindgaard, ed., John McDowell: Experience, (...) Norm and Nature (Oxford: Blackwell, 2008d), 124–151. (shrink)
This article summarizes the systematic importance of Hegel’s philosophy for pragmatism, and in particular for the contemporary revival of pragmatic realism. Key points lie in Hegel’s internal critique of Kant’s transcendental idealism, on the basis of which Hegel demonstrates that we can be self-conscious only if we are conscious of nature. This insight enables Hegel to develop genuinely transcendental proofs without invoking transcendental idealism. Hegel uses this result to defend realism about the molar objects of empirical knowledge against Pyrrhonian, Cartesian, (...) and Humean scepticism. In this connection Hegel criticizes and rejects both coherentist and foundationalist theories of cognitive justification and argues for a pragmatic fallibilist theory of justification regarding empirical knowledge. Hegel argues (like Dewey) that individuals and social groups are mutually interdependent for their existence and characteristics; neither is more basic than the other. (shrink)
This paper details the key steps in Kant’s transcendental proof that we perceive, not merely imagine, physical objects. These steps begin with Kant’s method (§II) and highlight the spatio-temporal character of our representational capacities (§III), Kant’s two transcendental proofs of mental content externalism (§IV), his proof that we can only make causal judgments about spatial substances (§§V, VI), the transcendental conditions of our self-ascription of experiences (§VII), Kant’s semantics of singular cognitive reference (§VIII), perceptual synthesis (§IX), Kant’s justificatory fallibilism (§X), (...) and the cognitive transcendence of global perceptual hypotheses (§XI). The proof outlined here differs markedly from ‘analytic transcendental arguments’ that focus selectively on Kant’s ‘Refutation of Idealism’ and portions of the ‘Transcendental Deduction of the Pure Concepts of the Understanding’. Understood as presented here, Kant’s epistemology is directly relevant to contemporary philosophical issues. (shrink)
The advent of distinctively Modern European philosophy at the turn of the seventeenth century was occasioned by two major developments: the painful recognition after thirty years of religious war that principles of public conduct must be justified independently of sectarian religious dogma; and the growth of natural science, especially discoveries in astronomy that linked terrestrial and celestial physics in a newly mathematicized, explanatory mechanics founded by Galileo and dramatically extended by Newton. The roles of reason and empirical evidence in inquiry, (...) and their superiority to custom and tradition for knowledge of nature were undeniable, though their respective roles and proper epistemological accounting were far from obvious. I review briefly some key points in the advent of natural science in order show that some fundamental philosophical predilections have obscured the proper roles of reason and evidence in the philosophical accounting of scientific knowledge. These predilections are found both among rationalists and among empiricists. Though they may be more readily apparent among seventeenth and eighteenth century philosophers, they are no less prevalent in mainstream analytical philosophy of science. Their diagnosis augurs a fundamental philosophical reorientation, a reorientation inaugurated, indeed, by Hegel. (shrink)
Hegel identified in Kant’s practical philosophy precisely the powerful kind of constructivism about the identification and justification of norms that has recently been explicated by Onora O’Neill. If so (I have argued elsewhere this is so), what then did Hegel contribute to practical philosophy? This essay partly answers this question by examining Kant’s and Hegel’s views of the aim and structure of practical philosophy, and what is required to determine specific duties. This theme is specified by examining these issues: two (...) oversights in Kant’s justification of rights to possession (§2), the role of philosophical anthropology in Kant’s universalization tests (§3), the roles of social institutions in specifying our ethical obligations (§4), Kant’s under-developed view of government (§5), and Hegel’s claim that, in contrast to Kant’s Rechtslehre, his Rechtsphilosophie provides an „immanent“ doctrine of duties (§6). I argue that Hegel attempted to respond to his own criticisms of Kant’s Categorical Imperative, and in doing so, Hegel contributed to practical philosophy in ways that Kantians and other moral, social and legal philosophers should consider seriously. (shrink)
This book is the first detailed study of Kant's method of 'transcendental reflection' and its use in the Critique of Pure Reason to identify our basic human cognitive capacities, and to justify Kant's transcendental proofs of the necessary a priori conditions for the possibility of self-conscious human experience. Kenneth Westphal, in a closely argued internal critique of Kant's analysis, shows that if we take Kant's project seriously in its own terms, the result is not transcendental idealism but (unqualified) realism regarding (...) physical objects. Westphal attends to neglected topics - Kant's analyses of the transcendental affinity of the sensory manifold, the 'lifelessness of matter', fallibilism, the semantics of cognitive reference, four externalist aspects of Kant's views, and the importance of Kant's Metaphysical Foundations for the Critique of Pure Reason - that illuminate Kant's enterprise in new and valuable ways. His book will appeal to all who are interested in Kant's theoretical philosophy. (shrink)
Three genuinely transcendental conditions for the possibility of self-conscious experience are and can only be material (§§2–4). Identifying these conditions shows that the link between transcendental proof and transcendental idealism is not direct, but must be justified by substantive argument (§§ 4, 5). This illuminates the prospect of separating transcendental proofs from transcendental idealism. Indeed, examining these conditions reveals a powerful strategy for using transcendental proof to defend realism sans phrase. Strikingly, this prospect illuminates some otherwise occluded aspects of post-Kantian (...) German Idealism (§6), and sets an important contemporary philosophical agenda (§7). (shrink)
Kant’s and Hegel’s transcendental argument for mental-content externalism breaks the deadlock between ‘internal’ and genuine realists. This argument shows that human beings can only be self-conscious in a world that provides a humanly recognizable regularity and variety among the things (or events) we sense. This feature of the world cannot result from human thought or language. Hence semantic arguments against realism can only be developed if realism about the world is true. Some of Putnam’s arguments for internal realism are taken (...) as cases in point, and criticized accordingly. Pragmatic realists can use this transcendental argument, because its strong modal claims are consistent with falliblist accounts of justification. (shrink)
Kant’s ‘Refutation of Idealism’ plainly has an anti-Cartesian conclusion: ‘inner experience in general is only possible through outer experience in general’ (B278). Due to wide-spread preoccupation with Cartesian skepticism, and to the anti-naturalism of early analytic philosophy, most of Kant’s recent commentators have sought to find a purely conceptual, ‘analytic’ argument in Kant’s Refutation of Idealism – and then have dismissed Kant when no such plausible argument can be reconstructed from his text. Kant’s argument supposedly cannot eliminate all relevant alternatives, (...) and so cannot justify its strong modal claims. Kant based his arguments on an inventory of our basic cognitive capacities to employ our forms of intuition and our forms of judgment. Kant provides a variety of considerations and arguments to determine what our cognitive capacities are. This involves ‘transcendental reflection’, which Kant held is absolutely crucial for judging matters a priori (A263/B319). I argue that there is a level of philosophical reflection on our own cognitive capabilities and their preconditions that is significantly richer than has been noticed by recent commentators, and that is a precondition of Kant’s transcendental reflection proper. I explicate certain thought experiments Kant proposes in order for us to recognize some our basic, characteristic cognitive capabilities, and the limits and requirements they entail for the nature and objects of human knowledge. These thought experiments involve a kind of reflection on who we as cognizant subjects are, on what our basic cognitive capabilities are. Engaging in this kind of reflection reveals that Kant’s transcendental arguments are significantly stronger and more persuasive than has been recognized in recent commentary. (shrink)
Though concise and introductory, this book argues inter alia that Dretske’s information-theoretic epistemology must take into account that many of our information channels are socially constructed, not least through learning concepts and information. These social aspects of human knowledge are consistent with realism about the objects of our empirical knowledge. It further argues that, though important, Margaret Gilbert’s social ontology in principle can neither accommodate nor account for the most fundamental social dimensions of human cognition.
For many reasons mainstream Hegel scholarship has disregarded Hegel's interests in epistemology, hence also his response to scepticism. From the points of view of defenders and critics alike, it seems that 'Hegel' and 'epistemology' have nothing to do with one another. Despite this widespread conviction, Hegel was a very sophisticated epistemologist whose views merit contemporary interest. This article highlights several key features and innovations of Hegel's epistemology-including his anti-Cartesianism, fallibilism, realism (sic) and externalism both about mental content and about justification-by (...) considering his systematic responses to Pyrrhonian, Humean, Cartesian and Kantian scepticism. (shrink)
Kant’s justification of possession appears to assume rather than prove its legitimacy. This apparent question-begging has been recapitulated or exacerbated but not resolved in the literature. However, Kant provides a sound justification of limited rights to possess and use things (qualified choses in possession), not of private property rights. Kant’s argument is not purely a priori; it is in Kant’s Critical sense ‘metaphysical’ because it applies the pure a priori ‘Universal Principles of Right’ to the concept of finite rational human (...) agency. This use implicitly involves a ‘Contradiction in Conception’ test, which I explicate in detail. The limited rights to possession and use justified by Kant’s argument suffice for his social contract argument for the legitimacy of the state. (shrink)
This critical review article on Frederick Neuhouser, The Foundations of Hegel’s Social Theory, examines in detail Hegel’s standards of political legitimacy, according to which social institutions are justified only by their roles in facilitating human freedom in its three basic forms: personal, moral, and social. Social freedom involves both ‘objective’ institutional requirements and ‘subjective’ aspects of personal understanding and endorsement of institutions so far as they fill their requirements. This includes rational, critical assessment of social institutions, and their role in (...) enabling us to achieve our most basic collective good: our complex modern form of freedom. (shrink)
Modern Philosophy bloomed into the Enlightenment, a cultural and philosophical movement still alive today, despite growing criticism. Some recent critics claim (roughly) that the alleged ‘universality’ of Enlightenment reason led directly to the imposition of Eurocentric reason on other, less militarily developed cultures. Some contend that there is no such thing as ‘universal’ reason. I contend that there are serious flaws in the Enlightenment notion of reason resulting from three basic dichotomies: (1) reason versus tradition, (2) knowledge versus customary belief, (...) and (3) individuals versus society. Identifying and remedying these flaws leads, not to the abandonment of rational enlightenment, but to an improved account of human rationality. (shrink)
Henry Allison [1983; cf. 1990, 1996] criticizes and rejects naturalism because the idea of freedom is constitutive of rational spontaneity, which alone enables and entitles us to judge or to act rationally, and only transcendental idealism can justify our acting under the idea of freedom. Allison’s critique of naturalism is unclear because his reasons for claiming that free rational spontaneity requires transcendental idealism are inadequate and because his characterization of Kant’s idealism is ambiguous. Recognizing this reinforces the importance of the (...) question of whether only transcendental idealism “can ground the right to the conceptual space” that we occupy when thinking spontaneously or acting under the idea of freedom. Only with a clear answer to this question can Kant’s idea of freedom provide a basis for assessing today’s naturalist orthodoxy. (shrink)
I argue that Henry Harris’s magnificent commentary, Hegel’s Ladder, so focuses on the cultural significance of Hegel’s Phenomenology that it neglects Hegel’s concerns with philosophical issues in the history of philosophy. In particular, it neglects issues central to Hegel’s phenomenological method about the assessment and internal criticism of alternative philosophical views, which are central to Hegel’s method for justifying his own view by ‘determinate negation’ of those alternatives. This neglect is manifest in three important regards: (1) Harris disregards a plethora (...) of specific references Hegel makes to Pyrrhonian skepticism by paraphrasing from, or making clear thematic allusions to, Sextus Empiricus’s Outlines of Pyrrhonism; (2) Harris’s solution to the problem of assessing our standards of knowledge is literally superficial; (3) Harris fails to address or resolve some ambiguities between what we recollect and what we imagine that are crucial for Hegel’s aim to provide a science of the experience of consciousness, and not simply another Gnostic fantasy. (shrink)
This article reconstructs Hegel’s chapter “Sense Certainty” (Phenomenology of Spirit, chap. 1) in detail in its historical and philosophical context. Hegel’s chapter develops a sound internal critique of naive realism that shows that sensation is necessary but not sufficient for knowledge of sensed particulars. Cognitive reference to particulars also requires using a priori conceptions of space, spaces, time, times, self, and individuation. Several standard objections to and misinterpretations of Hegel’s chapter are rebutted. Hegel’s protosemantics is shown to accord in important (...) regards with Gareth Evans’ view in “Identity and Predication.”. (shrink)