This article builds on Arendt’s development of a Kantian politics from out of the conception of reflective judgment in the Critique of Judgment. Arendt looks to Kant’s analysis of the beautiful to explain how political thought can be conceived. And yet Arendt describes such Kantian reflection as an empirical undertaking that justifies itself only in relation to the abstract principle of the moral law. The problem for such an account is that the autonomy of the moral law appears to be (...) at odds with the social cohesion of Kantian political life. The ensuing contradiction can be deemed the antinomy of political judgment. Kant’s conception of reflective judgment offers such an inquiry considerably more to work with than Arendt uncovers. In particular, the regulative principle of the purposiveness of nature that is shown to direct all reflection can be seen to offer the solution to this antinomy. (shrink)
I offer a critical reconstruction of Kant's thesis that aesthetic judgement is founded on the principle of the purposiveness of nature. This has been taken as equivalent to the claim that aesthetics is directly linked to the systematicity of nature in its empirical laws. I take issue both with Henry Allison, who seeks to marginalize this claim, and with Avner Baz, who highlights it in order to argue that Kant's aesthetics are merely instrumental for his epistemology. My solution is (...) that aesthetic judgement operates as an exemplary presentation of our general ability to schematise an intuition with a concept at the empirical level. I suggest that this counts as an empirical schematism. Although aesthetic judgement is not based on empirical systematicity, it can nevertheless offer indirect support for the latter in so far as it is a particular revelation of purposiveness in general. (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 both Introductions to the Critique of Judgment Kant seems to identify the a priori principle at the basis of aesthetic judgments with the principle that guides reflective judgment in its cognitive inquiry of nature, i.e. the purposiveness of nature or systematicity. For instance Kant writes.
There is much more said in the Critique of Pure Reason about the relationship between God and purposiveness than what is found in Kant's analysis of the physico-theological (design) argument. The ‘Wise Author of Nature’ is central to his analysis of regulative principles in the ‘Appendix to the Transcendental Dialectic’ and also appears in the ‘Canon’, first with regards to the Highest Good and then again in relation to our theoretical use of purposiveness. This paper will begin with (...) a brief discussion of the physico-theological argument before moving on to the Appendix and the Canon. Finally, it will consider some changes to the role of the Wise Author in the Critique of Judgement. (shrink)
Kant's theory of judgment establishes the conceptual framework for understanding the subtle relationships between the experimental scientist, the modern instrument, and nature's atomic particles. The principle of purposiveness which governs judgment has also a role in implicitly guiding modern experimental science. In Part 1 we explore Kant's philosophy of science as he shows how knowledge of material nature and unobservable entities is possible. In Part 2 we examine the way in which Kant's treatment of judgment, with its operating principle (...) of purposiveness, enters into his critical project and underlies the possibility of rational science. In Part 3 we show that the centrality given to judgment in Kant's conception of science provides philosophical insight into the investigation of atomic substances in modern chemistry. (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.
For many years, biology was largely descriptive (natural history), but with its emergence as a scientific discipline in its own right, a reductionist approach began, which has failed to be matched by adequate understanding of function of cells, organisms and species as whole entities. Every effort was made to explain biological phenomena in physico-chemical terms.It is argued that there is and always has been a clear distinction between life sciences and physical sciences, explicit in the use of the word biology. (...) If this distinction is real, it implies that biological phenomena can never be entirely satisfactorily explained in terms of extant physicochemical laws. One notable manifestation of this is that living organisms appear to -- actually do -- behave in purposeful ways, and the inanimate universe does not. While this fundamental difference continues to be suppressed, the purposiveness (or teleology) which pervades biology remains anathema to almost all scientists (including most biologists) even to the present day. We argue here that it can, however, become a perfectly tenable position when the Theory of Natural Selection is accepted as the main foundation, the essential tenet, of biology that distinguishes it from the realm of physical sciences. In accepting this position, it remains quite legitimate to expect that in many but not all circumstances, extant physical laws (and presumably others still to be discovered) are in no way breached by biological systems, which cannot be otherwise since all organisms are composed of physical material. (shrink)
A biosemiotic view of living things is presented that supersedes the mechanistic view of life prevalent in biology today. Living things are active agents with autonomous subjectivity, whose structure is triadic, consisting of the individual organism, its Umwelt and the society. Sociality inheres in every living thing since the very origin of life on the earth. The temporality of living things is guided by the purpose to live, which works as the semantic boundary condition for the processes of embodiment of (...) the subjectivity. Freedom at the molecular and cellular levels allows autonomy and spontaneity to emerge even in single cell organisms, and the presence of the dimension of mind in every living thing is deduced. Living things transcend their individualness, as they live in historically formed higher order structure consisting of the lineage-species and the society. They also transcend materiality, having the dimension of mind. (shrink)
In this paper, I explore the traditional religious account of what can make a life meaningful, namely, the view that one's life acquires significance insofar as one fulfils a purpose God has assigned. Call this view ‘purpose theory’. In the literature, there are objections purporting to show that purpose theory entails the logical absurdities that God is not moral, omnipotent, or eternal. I show that there are versions of purpose theory which are not vulnerable to these reductio arguments. However, I (...) then contend that there is a problem facing purpose theory which no version can avoid. I argue that the best reason for holding a God-centred theory of life's meaning logically precludes the possibility of purpose theory being the correct version of it. More specifically, I argue that if a relationship with God is necessary for one's life to acquire meaning, this must be because God would have properties such as atemporality and simplicity, perfections which are incompatible with purposiveness. I conclude that religious thinkers have good reason to develop other theories of the way God could confer meaning on our lives. (shrink)
This paper proposes a basic revision of the understanding of teleology in biological sciences. Since Kant, it has become customary to view purposiveness in organisms as a bias added by the observer; the recent notion of teleonomy expresses well this as-if character of natural purposes. In recent developments in science, however, notions such as self-organization (or complex systems) and the autopoiesis viewpoint, have displaced emergence and circular self-production as central features of life. Contrary to an often superficial reading, Kant (...) gives a multi-faceted account of the living, and anticipates this modern reading of the organism, even introducing the term self-organization for the first time. Our re-reading of Kant in this light is strengthened by a group of philosophers of biology, with Hans Jonas as the central figure, who put back on center stage an organism-centered view of the living, an autonomous center of concern capable of providing an interior perspective. Thus, what is present in nuce in Kant, finds a convergent development from this current of philosophy of biology and the scientific ideas around autopoeisis, two independent but parallel developments culminating in the 1970s. Instead of viewing meaning or value as artifacts or illusions, both agree on a new understanding of a form of immanent teleology as truly biological features, inevitably intertwined with the self-establishment of an identity which is the living process. (shrink)
Kant’s treatment of teleology and life in the Critique of the Power of Judgment is complicated and difficult to interpret; Hegel’s response adds considerable complexity. I propose a new way of understanding the underlying philosophical issues in this debate, allowing a better understanding of the underlying structure of the arguments in Kant and Hegel. My new way is unusual: I use for an interpretive lens some structural features of familiar debates about freedom of the will. These debates, I argue, allow (...) us to see more clearly the underlying structure of a great many philosophical issues. Aside from some suggested avenues of approach, however, I do not aim to interpret what Kant or Hegel has to say about freedom of the will. The idea is to use this interpretive lens to better understand the philosophical issues at stake in their disagreement concerning teleology and life. This will clarify the precise philosophical burden that must be met by Kant’s argument in defense of his skepticism, and why his case has considerable philosophical force. But it will also explain why Kant’s argument itself inevitably provides the opening for Hegel’s reply, and sets a standard that Hegel will meet in a surprising way. Finally, this approach will explain why we can learn a great deal from the philosophical arguments in Kant and Hegel about this topic, despite the intervening years of such great progress in the biological sciences: by looking to Kant and Hegel we can better understand the structure of underlying philosophical terrain of the issues concerning teleology and life—terrain we are still fighting over today. (shrink)
This paper aims to shed light on the role played by purposefulness in Peirce’s account of thought by means of a comparison with Kant’s regulative principles. Purposefulness, as an orientation toward an end involved in a thought process, is distinguished from purposiveness, as conformity to an end. Peirce’s architectonic, cosmology, and theory of natural classes are briefly analyzed in light of these concepts. Then, a comparison between Peirce’s esthetic ideal and regulative hopes and Kant’s regulative ideas and principle of (...)purposiveness is undertaken. This comparison, while allowing us to find a solution for some difficulties, especially some regarding Peirce’s esthetics, shows how purposefulness is far more important for the American thinker. Thus, purposefulness and purposiveness turn out to be primarily regulative principles of our thought. As such, they allow us to identify a transcendental level in Peirce’s philosophy, avoiding the inconsistencies that have been attributed to Karl-Otto Apel’s account. (shrink)
This article reviews, and offers supportive reflections on, the main points of Ernan McMullin's provocative 1998 article, “Cosmic Purpose and the Contingency of Human Evolution,’’ reprinted in this issue of Zygon. In it he addresses the important science-theology issue of how the Creator's purpose and intention to assure the emergence of human beings is consonant with the radical contingency of the evolutionary process. After discussing cosmic and biological evolution and critically summarizing recent solutions to this question by Keith Ward, John (...) Polkinghorne, Arthur Peacocke, Alvin Plantinga, and others, who presuppose in different ways that God is subject to time, McMullin compellingly argues for the traditional position, that God is unconditioned by time, and this enables God to work purposefully through contingency, randomness, and chance just as easily as through law-like regularity. (shrink)
The empirical findings in Collins and Porras'' study of visionary companies, Built to Last, and the normative claims about the purpose of the business firm in Centesimus Annus are found to be complementary in understanding the purpose of the business firm. A summary of the methodology and findings of Built to Lastand a short overview of Catholic Social Teaching are provided. It is shown that Centesimus Annus'' claim that the purpose of the firm is broader than just profit is consistent (...) with Collins and Porras empirical finding that firms which set a broader objective tend to be more successful than those which pursue only the maximization of profits. It is noted however that a related finding in Collins and Porras, namely that the content of the firm''s objective is not as important as internalizing some objective beyond just profit maximization, can lead to ethical myopia. Two examples are provided of this: the Walt Disney Company and Philip Morris. Centesimus Annus offers a way to expose such myopia, by providing guidance as to what the purpose of the firm is, and therefore as to what kinds of objectives are appropriate to the firm. (shrink)
I argue that recent advances in developmental biology demonstrate the inadequacy of suborganismal mechanism. The category of the organism, construed as a ’natural purpose’ should play an ineliminable role in explaining ontogenetic development and adaptive evolution. According to Kant the natural purposiveness of organisms cannot be demonstrated to be an objective principle in nature, nor can purposiveness figure in genuine explain. I attempt to argue, by appeal to recent work on self-organization, that the purposiveness of organisms is (...) a natural phenomenon and, by appeal to the apparatus of invariance explanation, that biological purposiveness provides genuine, ineliminable biological explanations. (edited). (shrink)
This essay develops a theory of natural signs in order to show how evolutionary theory breathes new life into teleology. An argument to the contrary presented by Richard Taylor is refuted. The essay defends the view that the concept of negative feedback explicates purposiveness and that symbiotic evolution explains the occurrence of naturally adapted feedback systems. But evolution itself is not a teleological process, nor is it a negative feedback system. There is an exploration of the nature of the (...) dissatisfaction we feel with an evolutionary account of purposiveness from which the fortuitous cannot be eliminated. (shrink)
Are there distinct roles for intention and motor representation in explaining the purposiveness of action? Standard accounts of action assign a role to intention but are silent on motor representation. The temptation is to suppose that nothing need be said here because motor representation is either only an enabling condition for purposive action or else merely a variety of intention. This paper provides reasons for resisting that temptation. Some motor representations, like intentions, coordinate actions in virtue of representing outcomes; (...) but, unlike intentions, motor representations cannot feature as premises or conclusions in practical reasoning. This implies that motor representation has a distinctive role in explaining the purposiveness of action. It also gives rise to a problem: were the roles of intention and motor representation entirely independent, this would impair effective action. It is therefore necessary to explain how intentions interlock with motor representations. The solution, we argue, is to recognise that the contents of intentions can be partially determined by the contents of motor representations. Understanding this content-determining relation enables better understanding how intentions relate to actions. (shrink)
One of the goals of physiologists who study the detailed physical, chemical,and neurological mechanisms operating within the human body is to understand the intricate causal processes which underlie human abilities and activities. It is doubtless premature to predict that they will eventually be able to explain the behaviour of a particular human being as we might now explain the behaviour of a pendulum clock or even the invisible changes occurring within the hardware of a modern electronic computer. Nonetheless, it seems (...) fair to say that hovering in the background of investigations into human physiology is the promise or threat, depending upon how one looks at the matter that human beings are complete physical-chemical systems and that all events taking place within their bodies and all movements of their bodies could be accounted for by physical causes if we but knew enough. I am not concerned at the moment with whether or not this ’mechanistic’ hypothesis is true, assuming that it is clear enough to be intelligible, nor with whether or not we could ever know that it is true. I wish to consider the somewhat more accessible yet equally important question whether our coming to believe that the hypothesis is true would warrant our relinquishing our conception of ourselves as beings who are capable of acting for reasons to achieve ends of our own choosing. I use the word ’warrant’ to indicate that I will not be discussing the possibility that believing the mechanistic hypothesis might lead us, as a matter of psychological fact, to think of human beings as mere automata, as objects whose movements are to be explained only by causes rather than by reasons, as are the actions of a personal subject. I intend to consider only whether the acceptance of mechanism would in fact justify such a change in conception. (shrink)
Schueler has argued, against the eliminativist, that human purposive action cannot be an illusion because the concept of purpose is not theoretical. He argues that the concept is known directly to be instantiated, through self-awareness; and that to maintain that the concept is theoretical involves an infinite regress. I show that Schueler’s argument fails because all our concepts are theoretical in the sense that we may be mistaken in applying them to our experience. As a consequence, it is conceivable that (...) direct introspection of an event as a purposive action may be mistaken. I indicate ways in which the eliminativist may be able to explain why our perception and introspection is afflicted with systematic error. (shrink)
It is commonly thought that the dispositional view of purposiveness is itself incompatible with the programmatic claims of neurophysiologists. In this paper, various versions of four arguments for this incompatibility are examined, and rejected as unsound. Central to the argument is a rough sketch of a "mechanistic" position which seems clearly compatible with a dispositional view of purposiveness.
Some understand the evolutionary process as more or less predictable; others stress its contingency. I argue that both Christian evolutionists who have assumed that the purposes of the Creator can be realized only through more or less predictable processes as well as those who infer from the contingency of the evolutionary process to the lack of purpose in the universe generally, are mistaken if the Creator escapes from the limits imposed on the creature by temporality, as the traditional Augustinian account (...) supposes. The notion of “purpose” must itself be reinterpreted in such a case. It makes no difference whether the appearance of Homo sapiens is the inevitable result of a steady process of complexification stretching over billions of years, or whether it comes about through a series of coincidences that would have made it entirely unpredictable from the (causal) human standpoint. Either way, the outcome is of God's making, and from the biblical standpoint may appear as part of God's plan. (shrink)
In a recent book, ‘Machines with a Purpose’, many of the unattractive features of our technology were traced to a view of the world which has predominated in science for nearly four hundred years. This is, that nature, and everything that it contains, operates causally and without purpose. To counter this view, an alternative, purposive view was developed. The paper gives a simple account of this development, of other related work, and of the underlying motivation.
Twenty-five years ago, field theory was among the most contested issues in argumentation studies. Today, the situation is very different. In fact, field theory has almost disappeared from disciplinary debates, a development which might suggest that the concept is not a useful aspect of argumentation theory. In contrast, I argue that while field studies are rarely useful, field theory provides an essential underpinning to any close analysis of an argumentative controversy. I then argue that the conflicting approaches to argument fields (...) were in fact not inconsistent, but instead reflected different aspects of field practices. A coherent approach to field theory can be developed by considering the way that all aspects of argumentative practice develop based on the purposes of arguers in an argumentative context. I then extend that position to argue that a justifiable theory of argumentation, which makes claims beyond the descriptive, must have at its core an analysis of the way that purpose constrains argumentation practice. In this view, the ultimate justification of principles found in a prescriptive or evaluative theory of argument must be in the way those principles fulfill practical problem-solving purposes related to the epistemic function of argument. (shrink)
Charles Taylor analyzes purposive action as involving both teleological explicability and intentionality on the part of the agent. This paper examines (a) the adequacy of this analysis of purposiveness, and (b) an incompatibility that Taylor finds between purpose, thus analyzed, and causal explicability. My conclusions are that (1) there is at least one aspect of our concept of purpose that Taylor's analysis does not capture, and (2) even if his account were correct, it would not rule out the possibility (...) that all actions are caused. (shrink)
I outline reasons for the recent popularity, and lingering suspicion, about 'emergence' by examining three distinct concepts of property emergence, their purposes and associated obligations. In Part 1, I argue 'Strong' emergence is the grail for many emergentists (and physicalists), since it frames what is needed to block the 'Argument from Realization' (AR) which moves from the truth of physicalism to the inefficacy of special science properties. I then distinguish 'Weak' and 'Ontological' emergence, in Part 2, arguing each is a (...) way one may fail to establish the possibility of Strong emergence. But I also show Weak emergence can help the full-blown reductionist and Ontological emergence helps those opposed to physicalism. Lastly, in Part 3, I argue that the Completeness of Physics (CoP) is incompatible with Strong emergence and that rejecting CoP provides hope for the possibility of Strong emergence in a physical world. The result is a notion of Strong emergence offering much to non-reductive physicalism. My final conclusion is that concepts of emergence, when properly understood, have important contributions to make to philosophical debate. (shrink)
The essay is framed by conflict between Christianity and Darwinian science over the history of the world and the nature of human personhood. Evolutionary science narrates a long prehuman geological and biological history filled with vast amounts, kinds, and distributions of apparently random brutal and pointless suffering. It also strongly suggests that the first modern humans were morally primitive. This science seems to discredit Christianity's common meta-narrative of the Fall, understood as a story of Paradise Lost. The author contends that (...) this Augustinian story and its character of Adam as endowed with superhuman gifts, and yet as so fragile as to fall, as claimed, is implausible, at any rate, even apart from science. He proposes that Christians consider adopting a Supralapsarian metaphysics of divine purpose supported by the intuitions of Irenaeus, who depicted the first human beings as comparable to innocent, but morally undeveloped children. In this approach the existence of evils is part of the divine plan to "defeat" them in and through the Incarnation, Atonement, and Resurrection of Christ. Putting an "Irenaean Adam" in place of the "Augustinian" counterpart may not remove conflict with science completely, but at least reduces it, and leads to a Christian narrative that is more plausible, in the light of science. (shrink)
Elsewhere I have contended that if a God-centred account of meaning in life were true, it would not be because meaning comes from fulfilling God’s purpose for us. Specifically, I have argued that this ‘purpose theory’ of life’s meaning cannot be the correct God-based view since God would have to be atemporal, immutable, and simple for meaning to logically depend on His existence, and since such a being lacking extension could not be purposive. Jacob Affolter has developed a fresh account (...) of the kind of purpose that is necessary for meaning in life, has argued that a God without extension could ground it, and has also provided some tentative reason to believe that only such a God could do so. I respond in three ways: by questioning whether the sort of purpose Affolter thinks is necessary for meaning in fact is; by arguing that an extensionless God could not ground it; and by indicating the way that a purely physical world could. (shrink)
Philosophers of evolutionary biology favor the so-called etiological concept of function according to which the function of a trait is its evolutionary purpose, defined as the effect for which that trait was favored by natural selection. We term this the selected effect (SE) analysis of function. An alternative account of function was introduced by Robert Cummins in a non-evolutionary and non-purposive context. Cummins''s account has received attention but little support from philosophers of biology. This paper will show that a similar (...) non-purposive concept of function, which we term causal role (CR) function, is crucial to certain research programs in evolutionary biology, and that philosophical criticisms of Cummins''s concept are ineffective in this scientific context. Specifically, we demonstrate that CR functions are a vital and ineliminable part of research in comparative and functional anatomy, and that biological categories used by anatomists are not defined by the application of SE functional analysis. Causal role functions are non-historically defined, but may themselves be used in an historical analysis. Furthermore, we show that a philosophical insistence on the primary of SE functions places practicing biologists in an untenable position, as such functions can rarely be demonstrated (in contrast to CR functions). Biologists who study the form and function of organismal design recognize that it is virtually impossible to identify the past action of selection on any particular structure retrospectively, a requirement for recognizing SE functions. (shrink)
Lloyd (2009) contends that climate models are confirmed by various instances of fit between their output and observational data. The present paper argues that what these instances of fit might confirm are not climate models themselves, but rather hypotheses about the adequacy of climate models for particular purposes. This required shift in thinking—from confirming climate models to confirming their adequacy-for-purpose—may sound trivial, but it is shown to complicate the evaluation of climate models considerably, both in principle and in practice.
This article responds to one of Thaddeus Metz's criticisms of the theory that the meaning of life is to fulfil a purpose assigned by God. In particular, it addresses the argument that only an atemporal God could ground meaning but that an atemporal God could not assign a purpose. In order to do this, the article first argues that Metz's criticisms misread the relevant sense of purpose. It then argues that on a more plausible reading of 'purpose', we can see (...) that it is in fact the kind of thing that an atemporal God could assign. (shrink)
All univocal analyses of causation face counterexamples. An attractive response to this situation is to become a pluralist about causal relationships. "Causal pluralism" is itself, however, a pluralistic notion. In this article, I argue in favor of pluralism about concepts of cause in the social sciences. The article will show that evidence for, inference from, and the purpose of causal claims are very closely linked. Key Words: causation • pluralism • evidence • methodology.
Business education is at a critical juncture. How are we to justify the curriculum in undergraduate business awards in Aotearoa New Zealand? This essay suggests a philosophical framework for the analysis the business curriculum in Western countries. This framework helps us to see curriculum in a context of global academic communities and national needs. It situates the business degree in the essential tension which modernity (Western metaphysics) creates and which is expressed in an increasingly globalised economy. The tension is between (...) those who insist that the degree is to serve modernity and those who hope that it may contribute to a new era of justice and harmony with nature. One critical battle ground for the business curriculum is the subject Business Ethics. The business ethics curriculum often indicates the intention of the business ethics degree itself. Kant's distinction between heteronomy (rule following) and autonomy (making your own decisions) provides us with a means to judge the purposes of business ethics courses: there are courses which seek to produce reliable and compliant (heteronomous) employees, and there are those which seek to produce independent creative (autonomous) human beings. The question for this conference is: what do we as business educators see as our task? (shrink)