Introduction -- Part I: Willing as practical knowing -- The will and practical judgment -- Fundamental practical judgments : the wish for happiness -- Part II: From presuppositions of judgment to the idea of a categorical imperative -- The formal presuppositions of practical judgment -- Constraints on willing -- Part III: Interpretation -- The categorical imperative -- Applications -- Conclusion.
Kant holds that the human cognitive power is divided into two "stems", understanding and sensibility. This doctrine has seemed objectionably dualistic to many critics, who see these stems as distinct parts, each able on its own to produce representations, which must somehow interact, determining or constraining one another, in order to secure the fit, requisite for cognition, between concept and intuition. This reading cannot be squared, however, with what Kant actually says about theoretical cognition and the way understanding and sensibility (...) cooperate in it. Such cognition, as Kant conceives of it, satisfies two conditions: it has unity, and it depends on the existence of its object. The first of these conditions entails that the cognitive power must lie in spontaneity, or understanding, while the second implies that this spontaneity depends on receptivity, or sensibility, to be the cognitive power that it is. Consideration of how these capacities must be conceived as cooperating in cognition reveals them to be related, not as interacting parts, but as form and matter. Such a conception of their relation may at first glance seem to be merely another version of dualistic thinking; in fact, however, a proper appreciation of it eliminates the appearance of dualism and helps allay an associated concern that Kant's distinction would taint our cognition with an unacceptable subjectivism. (shrink)
In his very rich and insightful book, Kant's Theory of Freedom, Henry Allison argues that in the first Critique Kant's reason for rejecting Humean compatibilism in favor of an incompatibilist conception of practical freedom stems, not from a specific concern to ground morality, as many have supposed, but from his general conception of rational agency, which Allison explicates in terms of the idea of practical spontaneity. Practically spontaneous rational agency is subject to imperatives and therefore distinct from Humean agency. But (...) it is not necessarily subject to the categorical imperative and hence is distinct from fully spontaneous (transcendentally free) moral agency. A conception thus emerges of an agent with limited spontaneity, subject to hypothetical but not categorical imperatives. A doubt may be raised, however, as to whether Kant's view can accommodate this conception of limited practical spontaneity. Reflection on Kant's notion of a hypothetical imperative suggests that the idea of limited spontaneity is in danger of either collapsing into the Humean picture or else turning out to be equivalent to the conception of full spontaneity appropriate to moral agency. There is thus reason to suppose that, for Kant, we would not be bound by imperatives at all if we were not bound by the categorical imperative. (shrink)
The first two sections of this paper are devoted respectively to the criticisms of my views raised by StephenEngstrom and Andrews Reath at a symposium on Kant's Theory of Freedom held in Washington D.C. on 28 December 1992 under the auspices of the North American Kant Society. The third section contains my response to the remarks of Marcia Baron at a second symposium in Chicago on 24 April 1993 at the APA Western Division meetings. The fourth section (...) deals with some general criticisms of my treatment of Kant's theory of freedom and its connection with transcendental idealism that have been raised by Karl Ameriks, who was also a participant in the second symposium, in an earlier piece published in Inquiry and by Paul Guyer in a review. The paper as a whole is thus an attempt to reformulate and clarify some of the central claims of my book in light of the initial critical reaction. (shrink)
In his original essay, The Form of Practical Knowledge, StephenEngstrom argues for placing Kant’s ethics in the tradition of practical cognitivism. My remarks are intended to highlight the merits of his interpretation in contrast to intuitionism and constructivism, understood as ways of appropriating Kant’s legacy. In particular, I will focus on two issues: ﬁrst, the special character of practical knowledge—as opposed to theoretical knowledge and craft expertise; and second, the apparent tension between the demands of morality and (...) the requirements of instrumental reason, when this is understood as driven by concerns for happiness, prudence, and personal integrity. (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, ...