This article develops an objection to Kant’s proof of freedom from the Critique of Practical Reason. In his proof — the fact of reason argument — Kant deduces the reality of freedom, understood as the ability to act independently of all inclinations, from our consciousness of the unconditional validity of morality. He calls this consciousness the "fact of reason". After a systematic reconstruction of the argument, I develop an objection that relies on three points: (i) the cultural embeddedness of human (...) beings ("fact of culture"), (ii) an "external" perspective on human deliberative processes, and (iii) an alternative interpretation of the unconditional validity of morality that appears in practical deliberation. Contrary to Kant’s claims, I argue that the reality of freedom cannot be deductively derived from the fact of reason. I then discuss two objections to my argument. The first objection claims that my considerations regarding the "external" perspective misunderstand Kant's methodology. The second objection states that, based on my considerations, the fact of reason ultimately turns out to be an illusion. I discuss both objections and refute them. My ultimate conclusion is that Kant's fact of reason argument is not convincing. (shrink)
Kant takes the idea of autonomy of the will to be his distinctive contribution to moral philosophy. However, this idea is more nuanced and complicated than one might think. In this chapter, I sketch the rough outlines of Kant’s idea of autonomy of the will while also highlighting contentious exegetical issues that give rise to various possible interpretations. I tentatively defend four basic claims. First, autonomy primarily features in Kant’s account of moral agency, as the condition of the possibility of (...) moral obligation. Second, autonomy amounts to a metaphysical property as well as a normative principle and a psychological capacity. Third, although there is legitimate scholarly disagreement about whether or not autonomy involves self-legislation of the moral law, there is good reason to believe it underwrites an ‘inside-out’ (as opposed to ‘outside-in’) conception of the relationship between the will and moral requirements. Fourth, persons have dignity because their autonomy makes them members in the set of beings over whom the categorical imperative requires us to universalise our maxims, not because autonomy is an independently important property. (shrink)
Kant’s formula of universal law (FUL) is standardly understood as a test of the moral permissibility of an agent’s maxim: maxims which pass the test are morally neutral, and so permissible, while those which do not are morally impermissible. In contrast, I argue that the FUL tests whether a maxim is the cause or determining ground of an action at all. According to Kant’s general account of causality, nothing can be a cause of some effect unless there is a law-like (...) relation between the putative cause and effect. Applied to the case of action, no maxim can be the cause of an agent’s action unless there is a law-like relation between maxims of that kind and actions of that kind. The special capacity to act according to maxims as law-like causes is what Kant calls a will; the basic constitutive principle of the will is a non-normative principle I call the categorical declarative. While the actions of a perfectly good will would be described by the categorical declarative alone, human action is determined not only by the causality of the will, but also by competing causes, namely those stemming from inclination. There is thus need for a causal test for putative maxims. The test contained in the FUL is meant to determine whether an action could be grounded solely on the agent’s maxim, or whether it requires a cause external to the will. This account permits one to build eventual distinctions concerning the morality of actions on prior and independent distinctions concerning their causality. (shrink)
An epistemic deontology modelled on Kant’s ethics—in particular the humanity formula of the categorical imperative—is a promising alternative to epistemic consequentialism because it can forbid intuitively impermissible epistemic trade-offs which epistemic consequentialism seems doomed to permit and, most importantly, it can do so in a way that is not ad hoc.
According to the objection from positive duties, Kant's Formula of Universal Law is flawed because it cannot be used to derive any affirmative moral requirements. This paper offers a response to that objection and proposes a novel way to derive positive duties from Kant's formula. The Formula of Universal Law yields positive duties to adopt our own perfection and others’ happiness as ends because we could not rationally fail to will those ends as universal ends.
Kant famously claims that there is only a single supreme principle of morality: the Categorical Imperative. This claim is often treated with skepticism. After all, Kant proceeds to provide no fewer than six formulations of this purportedly single supreme principle—formulations which appear to differ significantly. But appearances can be deceptive. In this paper, I argue that Kant was right. There is only a single Categorical Imperative, and each of its formulations expresses the very same moral principle.
Their important exegetical and philosophical disagreements notwithstanding, Pauline Kleingeld and Marcus Willaschek, on the one hand, and Alyssa Bernstein, on the other, seem to agree that Kant’s Categorical Imperative transcends the contemporary dichotomy between moral realism and ethical constructivism. My contribution is an attempt to further elaborate on the third, unique, conceptual option that they have identified. I employ the notion of an “enabling condition,” introduced in epistemology and action theory by Jonathan Dancy, in order to show that the Categorical (...) Imperative enables action and is enabled by action. The Categorical Imperative (as distinct from specific categorical imperatives and moral laws) is discussed as a structural, but still normative, coherence and consistence norm of practical reasoning. As such it is two things at the same time, namely, first, the most fundamental normative background condition of practical deliberation, choice, and action. Second, however, the mutual enabler-enablee-relationship between action and Categorical Imperative points in the other – “not-so-Kantian” – direction as well: individual practical deliberation, understood as the mundane phenomenon that penetrates the lives of agents, is the (existence) condition that enables the Categorical Imperative in normatively-structured action. (shrink)
In "Kant on Freedom and Rational Agency", I aim to give a comprehensive interpretation and a qualified defense of Kant’s doctrine of freedom as a systematic conception of rational agency. -/- Although my book follows Kant in focusing on the idea of free will as a condition of moral agency, it denies that moral freedom of will is the only relevant (transcendental) type of freedom. Human beings also exercise absolute freedom of thought (intellectual autonomy) in their theoretical cognition. Moreover, our (...) creation and appreciation of beauty requires our freedom of imagination. I consider these three varieties of free agency both in their own rights and in their systematic connections, by examining how they differ from and yet relate to each other. On this basis, my interpretation shows that and why for Kant transcendental freedom is the proper anchor ("cardinal point") of all meaningful, rational human activity: our moral efforts to become more virtuous and to make the world a better place; our theoretical efforts to understand, explain and predict the world; and our aesthetic engagement with the world of beauty, both artistic and natural. -/- Additionally, "Kant on Freedom and Rational Agency" illuminates Kant's intricate, multifaceted account by considering the various metaphysical, semantic, epistemological and normative dimensions of Kantian freedom and by revealing their systematic interconnections. One significant benefit of tracing these links is that by doing so we can arrive at a charitable view of how Kant seeks to justify the belief in moral freedom of will. -/- For many commentators, Kant's appeal to a moral ‘fact of reason’ as our basis for believing in supersensible free will is an abject philosophical failure or a lapse into dogmatic rationalism. By contrast, I show that Kant justifies our belief in free will through a rather powerful, two-pronged argumentative strategy. First, he constructs a practical-moral proof of free will via the fact of reason doctrine. Second, he provides a theoretical defense of this moral proof against challenges arising from a naturalistic worldview. The linchpin of this defense is his argument that naturalistic cognizers must presuppose their epistemic freedom of thought as a necessary condition of all objective theoretical (including naturalistic) cognition. Since epistemic freedom of thought and moral freedom of will are both species of transcendental freedom, naturalists cannot (coherently) debunk our practical self-conception as transcendentally free moral agents. The appeal to epistemic freedom of thought provides no positive grounds for believing in a free moral will; but it shields our moral self-awareness (which does provide such grounds) against its most prominent detractors. -/- This defense strategy (among other aspects of Kant’s view that I examine in my book) shows that a significant part of Kant’s legacy is his abiding potential to challenge and provide alternatives to a naturalistic philosophical worldview (held by the “defender of an omnipotent nature”) according to which the mechanistic order of nature engulfs all metaphysical reality and (thereby) our entire humanity. (shrink)
In this paper I examine the relationship between the principle of right and the principle of morals [Sitten] in Kant’s Metaphysics of Morals. My interpretation denies that the principle of right is derived from the categorical imperative, but neither does it adhere to the independence thesis. I present a third way of understanding the relationship between the law of right and the universal law of morals: the latter is needed in order to formulate the former, but it is not sufficient. (...) The principle of right is obtained by applying the categorical imperative to the concept of right. I highlight the discussion on the subject within the late eighteenth-century German natural law tradition and similar arguments found in Achenwall. (shrink)
According to the UN report, one-third of India’s population is migrant, and the migration pattern is mainly from the rural area to the city. The workers in India migrate seasonally, temporarily, or for the long term. The Covid-19 situation created hazardous setbacks in the lives of Indian migrants. It was a time of social psychological and emotional trauma. The Covid-19 situation manifested the dilemma that who is responsible for the migrant workers. The fact that they were objectified, and their human (...) dignity was not protected amidst the interventions of the Supreme Court of India and the Central and State Governments being the context, the paper attempts to consider the question “How can the policy makers collaboratively bring positive impact in the lived experiences of the migrant workers?” as the theme of the paper. Policymakers guided by the philosophical wisdom that respects and supports human dignity can change the lives of migrants undergoing a crisis. (shrink)
In his discussion of the duty of benevolence in §27 of the Metaphysics of Morals, Kant argues that agents have no obligation to promote their own happiness, for ‘this happens unavoidably’ (MS, AA 6:451). In this paper I argue that Kant should not have said this. I argue that Kant should have conceded that agents do have an obligation to promote their own happiness.
I want to distinguish between maxims at three levels of abstraction. At the first level are what I shall call individual maxims, or i‐maxims: maxim tokens as adopted by particular rational beings. At the second level are abstract maxims, or a‐maxims: abstract principles distinct from any individual who adopts them. At the third level are maxim kinds, or k‐maxims: sets of various action‐guiding principles that are grouped on the basis of their content. In this paper, I argue for the thesis (...) that i‐maxims are the locus of assessment in Kant's ethics. (shrink)
Kant’s Formula of Humanity can be analyzed into two parts. One is an injunction to treat humanity always as an end. The other is a prohibition on using humanity as a mere means. The second is often referred to as the FH prohibition or the mere means prohibition. It has become popular to interpret this prohibition in terms of consent. The idea is that, if X uses Y's humanity as a means and Y does not consent to it, then X (...) uses Y's humanity as a mere means. There is then debate about the kind of consent that is relevant: possible, actual, or rational. In this paper, I argue against this interpretation. Section one sets up the consent account. Section two attacks possible and actual consent accounts on doctrinal grounds. Section three extends this doctrinal attack to rational consent accounts. Section four circles back to the original motivation for the consent interpretation. I argue that the consent account rests on a misinterpretation, and I conclude with a quick sketch of an alternative interpretation of the FH prohibition. (shrink)
Ever since Hegel famously objected to Kant’s universalization formulations of the Categorical Imperative on the grounds that they are nothing but an empty formalism, there has been continual debate about whether he was right. In this paper I argue that Hegel got things at least half-right: I argue that even if negative duties (duties to omit actions or not to adopt maxims) can be derived from the universalization formulations, positive duties (duties to commit actions or to adopt maxims) cannot. The (...) paper is divided into three main sections. In the first, I set out the procedures generally accepted among Kantians for deriving positive duties from the universalization formulations. In the second, I set out the arguments from section 1 in more detail and explain why they do not work. In the third, I examine a strategy that might be used to supplement the arguments from section 2 and I argue that it also does not work. (shrink)
In this paper I highlight and discuss a problem for Kant’s conception of the categorical imperative that arises from the possibility of a differently fine-grained individuation of act types in the formation of maxims. The “Problem from the Manifold of Possible Maxims”, as it might be called, further develops and exacerbates the well-known “Problem of Relevant Descriptions.” In particular, I argue that there are cases in which the same act can be performed both under a universalizable and under a non-universalizable (...) maxim. But then Kant’s moral theory implies, given the necessity of moral truths, that there are acts that are both permissible and impermissible. The discussion reveals that a limitation of the notion of maxims sufficient to rule out a heterogeneous evaluation of two maxims that can underlie the same action is impossible without ad hoc stipulations. Consequently, a modification of Kant’s moral theory is required to at least ensure it’s consistency. The investigation ends with a discussion of two such modifications: First, I examine the suggestion of determining the moral status of actions only relative to some maxim and abandoning the assumption that actions are permissible or impermissible tout court. Such a move, however, is too deep an intervention in Kant’s moral philosophy to count as a suitable modification and, as I will show, faces serious problems on its own. I then discuss the possibility of modifying Kant’s universalization formula so that it quantifies not merely over actual maxims, but over all possible maxims. Although this proposed solution is also problematic, it turns out to be the most promising approach in the context of this investigation. __________________________________________________________________ Zusammenfassung: Diese Untersuchung widmet sich einem Problem, das sich für Kants Konzeption des kategorischen Imperativs aus der Möglichkeit einer unterschiedlich feinkörnigen Individuation von Handlungstypen bei der Bildung von Maximen ergibt. Das hier präsentierte Argument aus der Mannigfaltigkeit möglicher Maximen entwickelt das bekannte „Problem of Relevant Descriptions“ weiter und verschärft es. Ich argumentiere, dass es Fälle gibt, in denen dieselbe Handlung sowohl unter einer universalisierbaren als auch unter einer nicht universalisierbaren Maxime vollzogen werden kann, sodass Kants Moraltheorie, unter der Annahme der Notwendigkeit moralischer Tatsachen, impliziert, dass es Handlungen gibt, die zugleich erlaubt und nicht erlaubt sind. Die Diskussion ergibt, dass eine hinreichende Begrenzung des Maximenbegriffs für das Ausschließen eines heterogenen Auswertungsergebnisses zweier Maximen, die derselben Handlung zugrunde liegen können, ohne ad hoc-Bestimmungen unmöglich ist. Folglich ist eine Modifikation von Kants Moraltheorie erforderlich, um zumindest ihre Konsistenz sicherzustellen. Die Untersuchung endet mit der Diskussion zweier solcher Modifikationen: Zunächst untersuche ich den Lösungsvorschlag, den moralischen Status von Handlungen nur Maximen-relativ zu bestimmen und die Annahme aufzugeben, dass Handlungen tout court erlaubt oder verboten sind. Ein solcher Schritt stellt jedoch einen tiefen Eingriff in Kants Moralphilosophie dar und geht, wie ich zeigen werde, seinerseits mit gravierenden Problemen einher. Anschließend diskutiere ich die Möglichkeit, die Universalisierungsformel des kategorischen Imperativs dahingehend zu modifizieren, dass sie nicht bloß über aktuale, sondern über alle möglichen Maximen quantifiziert. Obgleich auch dieser Lösungsvorschlag problembehaftet ist, erweist er sich im Rahmen dieser Untersuchung als der aussichtsreichste Ansatz. (shrink)
This open access book revises Kant’s ethical thought in one of its most notorious respects: its exclusion of animals from moral consideration. The book gives readers in animal ethics an accessible introduction to Kant’s views on our duties to others, and his view that we have only ‘indirect’ duties regarding animals. It then investigates how one would have to depart from Kant in order to recognise that animals matter morally for their own sake. Particular attention is paid to Kant’s ‘Formula (...) of Humanity,' the role of autonomy and the moral law, as well as Kant’s notions of practical reason and animal instinct. The result is a deliberately amended version of Kantianism which nevertheless remains faithful to central aspects of Kant’s thought. The book’s final part illustrates the framework’s use in applied contexts, addressing the issues of using animals as mere means, the ethics of veganism and vegetarianism, and environmental protection. Nico Dario Müller shows how, when furnished with duties to animals, Kant's moral philosophy can be a powerful resource for animal ethicists. (shrink)
More than a century before Anscombe counseled us to jettison concepts such as that of the moral ought, or moral law, Schopenhauer mounted a vigorous attack on such prescriptive moral concepts, particularly as found in Kant. In this chapter I consider the four objections that constitute this attack. According to the first, Kant begs the question by merely assuming that ethics has a prescriptive or legislative-imperative form, when a purely descriptive-explanatory conception such as Schopenhauer’s also presents itself as a possibility. (...) According to the second, Kant’s purportedly philosophical ethics is in fact a theological ethics in disguise, because the moral ought and its prescriptive cousins presuppose a divine lawgiver. According to the third, Kant’s conceptions of the moral law as a law of freedom, and of moral imperatives as categorical or unconditioned, involve him in contradictions. Finally, Schopenhauer objects that there can be no such thing as a moral ought because a binding ought or law must be understood to operate through appeals to self-interest, which stands in opposition to morality. I contend that these last three objections are sound and that the fourth in particular succeeds in confuting the prescriptivist conception of morality. (shrink)
In this article, I examine what Kant’s Formula of Universal Law requires of an individual agent in situations of great need, e.g.: if you can easily help a drowning child, or if you know of a famine situation in another country. I first explain why I do not simply apply the standard interpretation of how one can derive concrete duties from Kant’s Universal Law formulation of the Categorical Imperative. I then glean an alternative procedure from Kant’s texts and give the (...) reasons for using that interpretation. Finally, I apply the alternative procedure to situations of great need. – According to the interpretation I glean from Kant’s texts, one (i) should not make an exception to (ii) laws that we believe to be objectively necessary, whereby we derive these rules from (iii) universal ends of humankind. Since we take survival as one of the universal ends of mankind, we deem helping someone whose life is in danger as objectively necessary (to achieve the end). The formal Categorical Imperative demands that one does not make an exception to this rule. Applying this interpretation to cases of great need depends on at least three factors: (i) how urgent the need is, (ii) how great the costs are to the one who helps, and (iii) how many people can help. But at one extreme, where you are the only one who can easily save an innocent person’s life, the Kantian procedure generates a strict duty to help the other in need. (shrink)
Kant’s argument against suicide is widely dismissed by scholars and often avoided by teachers because it is deemed inconsistent with Kant’s moral philosophy. This paper attempts to show a way to make sense of Kant’s injunction against suicide that is consistent with his moral system. One of the strategies adopted in order to accomplish my goal is a de-secularization of Kant’s ethics. I argue that all actions of self-killing (or suicide) are morally impermissible because they are inconsistent with God’s established (...) nature and order. It is argued that the existence of God as the locus of moral value and duty in Kant’s moral system, and not belief in God, can explain the consistency of Kant’s injunction against suicide. A synergistic view is offered, which rests on three arguments: First, suicide goes against God’s authority. Second, suicide is inconsistent with our self-perpetuating nature. Third, suicide goes against the rational will. (shrink)
It is significant that the visionaries of political economy, of philosophy, of culture and social justice and related areas have cherished freedom as of practical and spiritual importance, and as protective of liberty of soul. Be it from the material bondage or physical, freedom is enthralling as always and invaluable for our own growth. It is from this dimension that the richness of spiritual praxis is viewed to propose may be the innovative alternatives to the dilemma of existence, freedom and (...) its relation to ethics and the world. There are, therefore, possibilities that ideas concerning freedom and ethics may appear contradictory on another level. While focusing on the importance of spiritual praxis as speculated by Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Vivekananda, Tagore, Kabir, Allamaprabhu, Gibran, Kant and others, besides raising the complexities of Self/Soul and its relation to freedom we find the inter-dependence of ethics and freedom as a categorical imperative interestingly. (shrink)
Are acts of violence performed in virtual environments ever morally wrong, even when no other persons are affected? While some such acts surely reflect deficient moral character, I focus on the moral rightness or wrongness of acts. Typically it’s thought that, on Kant’s moral theory, an act of virtual violence is morally wrong (i.e., violate the Categorical Imperative) only if the act mistreats another person. But I argue that, on Kant’s moral theory, some acts of virtual violence can be morally (...) wrong, even when no other persons or their avatars are affected. First, I explain why many have thought that, in general on Kant’s moral theory, virtual acts affecting no other persons or their avatars can’t violate the Categorical Imperative. For there are real world acts that clearly do, but it seems that when we consider the same sorts of acts done alone in a virtual environment, they don’t violate the Categorical Imperative, because no others persons were involved. But then, how could any virtual acts like these, that affect no other persons or their avatars, violate the Categorical Imperative? I then argue that there indeed can be such cases of morally wrong virtual acts—some due to an actor’s having erroneous beliefs about morally relevant facts, and others due not to error, but to the actor’s intention leaving out morally relevant facts while immersed in a virtual environment. I conclude by considering some implications of my arguments for both our present technological context as well as the future. (shrink)
My goal in this piece is to show that there is a problem lurking in the shadows of recent attempts to derive positive duties from Kant’s so-called universalizability tests and, further, to show that the most obvious way of fixing these attempts renders them unable to fulfill their function. I shall begin by motivating and explaining such an attempt.
According to a common caricature of Kant’s ethics, it is synonymous with the Categorical Imperative (CI) and with the sublime and clarion call of duty. But in this paper, I argue that the conjunction of Kant’s concept of duty and his idea of morality as a system of imperatives is unsustainable on the grounds that it commits him to the following two theses: (I) If an agent has a duty to D, then she must be constrained to D, and (II) (...) the Supreme Law of Morality always manifests in the form of duty for humans. I begin by examining (and rejecting) various attempts to defend these two theses. I then explore how this bears on various central aspects of Kant's thought including “ought implies can” (OIC), “ought implies able not to” (OIAN), his system of duties, and the nature of respect. (shrink)
In this article, I reply to Jens Timmermann’s critical discussion of my essay “Contradiction and Kant’s Formula of Universal Law”. I first consider Timmermann’s reasons for rejecting my interpretation of the Formula of Universal Law. I argue that the self-contradiction relevant to determining a maxim’s moral status should not be sought in the imagined world in which the maxim is a universal law. I then discuss Timmermann’s suggestion that something like a volitional self-contradiction is found within the will of the (...) immoral agent. I deny this and clarify that the relevant contradiction is diagnosed counterfactually in moral reflection. Finally, I explain the differences between Timmermann’s account, Korsgaard’s Practical Contradiction interpretation, and my own Volitional Self-Contradiction interpretation. (shrink)
Recent years have seen a surge of interest in the question of whether humans should reproduce. Some say human life is too punishing and cruel to impose upon an innocent. Others hold that such harms do not undermine the great and possibly unique value of human life. Tracing these outlooks historically in the debate has barely begun. What might philosophers have said, or what did they say, about human life itself and its value to merit reproduction? This article looks to (...) Kant, who wrote much on whether, by reproducing, humans do wrong or right morally. It assesses two main arguments: one examining whether perfect or imperfect duties condone reproduction, the other whether Kant’s teleological or, in the opposite sense, his eschatological outlooks can salvage reproduction. These two arguments are essential for building the entire argument. This article finds that, although Kant’s arguments against reproducing are strong, some of his writing seems to support reproduction as a good. Yet, must we must assume an author, even one who strove for systematicity, must be consistent over his entire oeuvre on every issue, especially if not handled directly in a single work? The article concludes that Kant does not sufficiently, systematically support anti-natalism as more moral than pro-natalism. It is best for the current debate to grapple with the very dilemma that daunted Kant. (shrink)
This book presents a comprehensive analysis of Kant’s justification of the categorical imperative. The book contests the standard interpretation of Kant’s views by arguing that he never abandoned his view about this as expressed in his Groundwork. It is distinctive in the way in which it places Kant’s argument in the context of his transcendental philosophy as a whole, which is essential to understand it as an argument from within human agential self-understanding. The book reviews that existing literature, then presents (...) a logical construction of Kant’s argument, which it defends by examining what Kant has to say about synthetic a priori practical propositions in the context of his transcendental philosophy as a whole, and by a detailed examination of how he presents his argument in the Second Critique and the Groundwork. Particular attention is given to the views of two scholars who share many of the views expressed in this book: Klaus Steigleder and Michael Wolff. Special attention is also given to the views of Owen Ware, who, while sharing many of our arguments has a very different overall view. The concluding chapter provides a statement about the validity of Kant’s argument. (shrink)
For Kant and Levinas, the categorical imperative is the only possible formula for universalization. It has a structural necessity. Its claim is ultimate, valid without exception, and therefore reason-based. What differentiates Levinas from Kant is Kant’s assumption that “pure reason, practical of itself” is “immediately lawgiving.” Levinas contradicted this form of reason legislating itself as an end in itself: according to Levinas, reason has no self-generated power. Although both agree that the achievement of an ethical insight depends on “passivity,” in (...) contrast to Kant Levinas does not consider this “passivity” to be part of a conceptual insight. Its place is outside the subject. Instead of an “archetype” that already exists in the subject, Levinas advocates the conception of a counter-image whose form is based on the face. This face is not speechless. His speech is based on a universalizable commandment, namely the commandment: You shall not kill me. In its full extent, this claim can only be understood via a body-based understanding of the categorical imperative. (shrink)
If people have stringent moral rights, then the doctrine of double effect is false or unimportant, at least when it comes to making acts permissible or wrong. There are strong and weak versions of the doctrine of double effect. The strong version asserts that an act is morally right if and only if the agent does not intentionally infringe a moral norm and the act brings about a desirable result (perhaps the best state of affairs available to the agent or (...) a promotion of the common good). The weak version asserts that, other things being equal, it is deontically worse to intentionally infringe a norm than to foreseeably do so. A person’s intention or mere foresight might still be relevant to his or her blameworthiness or virtue, but this is a separate issue. (shrink)
This essay starts from a consideration of Deleuze's theory of time. It begins with the empty form of time. But the essay's aim is to understand Deleuze's reversal of Platonism in his 1968 Difference and Repetition. There is no question that the stakes of the reversal of Platonism are ontological. But I argue that what is really at stake is a movement of demoralisation. The essay proceeds in three steps. First, we determine what sufficient reason or grounding is, for Deleuze. (...) Sufficient reason is struck with an irreducible ambiguity. It is this ambiguity in sufficient reason that allows it to be taken advantage of, to be used by representation and good sense for a moral purpose. The second part of the essay will therefore concern ‘the moralisation of sufficient reason’. Its focus will be good sense. But then, third, we must understand Deleuze's ‘demoralisation of sufficient reason’, which necessarily passes through others. Like sufficient reason, others are ambiguous, at once lending themselves to what cancels differences, and opening the way towards difference and intensity. The third step focuses on what Deleuze calls ‘the ethics of intensive quantities’. In the Conclusion, I examine Deleuze's famous, almost cliché, definition of ethics as not being unworthy of the event and, through the empty form of time, I connect it to Kant's formalistic ethics. (shrink)
According to Kant, the universalization of the maxim of false promising leads to a contradiction, namely, to everyone adopting the maxim of false promising which would in effect make promising impossible. I first propose a reconstruction of Kant’s reasoning in four steps and then show that each of these steps is highly problematic. In the second part I argue that attempts by several prominent contemporary philosophers to defend Kant fail because they encounter similar difficulties.
In the first ever commentary on the Groundwork, one of Kant’s earliest critics, Gottlob August Tittel, argues that the categorical imperative is not a new principle of morality, but merely a new formula. This objection has been unjustly neglected in the secondary literature, despite the fact that Kant explicitly responds to it in a footnote in the second Critique. In this paper I seek to offer a thorough explanation of both Tittel’s ‘new formula’ objection and Kant’s response to it, as (...) well as illustrate its significance. I argue that the objection is in fact the third step in a line of argument that Tittel presents in his commentary, and that the objection is best understood within this context. I analyze Kant’s response in the second Critique footnote line-by-line so as to show that Kant both clarifies that it was never his aim to offer a new principle, but only ‘establish’ the principle that common human reason already implicitly employs. Furthermore, I show that Kant uses the opportunity to clarify the sense in which the categorical imperative is a ‘formula [Formel]’, namely as a representation of a complicated and abstract principle, like the moral law, in a way that is easier to understand and apply. I conclude by illustrating the fourth step in Tittel’s line of argument, which makes the overall significance of the ‘new formula’ objection clear: for Tittel, the problem is not that Kant seems to be offering merely a new formula, but that the categorical imperative lacks a foundation. (shrink)
Apresentamos aqui a tradução de uma pequena seleção das notas kantianas sobre ética. A maioria dos fragmento traduzidos é parte das chamadas Reflexões de Filosofia Moral publicadas no tomo XIX de Kants gesammelte Schriften, que se constituem, em sua maior parte, como as anotações de Kant (algumas em folhas soltas) na margem de um dos exemplares de referência para seus cursos de ética17, a Initia philosophiae practicae primae de Alexander Baumgarten, em sua edição de 1760. Acrescentamos à mesma seleção, no (...) entanto, algumas Reflexões presentes em outros volumes do Legado Manuscrito que, de alguma maneira, abordam os mesmos temas. As Reflexões foram dispostas em ordem numérica e separadas de acordo com seus respectivos assuntos. Considerando a diversidade dos temas comentados por Kant, de acordo com o manual, tais como obrigação, coerção, imputação, lei, justiça, punição etc, tentamos selecionar alguns tópicos que assumem uma função basilar dentro da teoria moral kantiana. Dessa forma, o primeiro grupo de Reflexões contém algumas notas que tratam com o problema da liberdade e da lei moral. O segundo é um compilado contendo comentários sobre o sentimento moral. O terceiro apresenta algumas reflexões esparsas sobre imputabilidade e o mal moral e o quarto grupo traz algumas notas comentadas sobre o problema do sumo bem, sendo, em alguns casos, apenas trechos de anotações maiores. As traduções foram realizadas diretamente a partir dos fragmentos originais, embora, em alguns casos, tenha sido feito o cotejamento com outras versões, dentre as quais cito a tradução para o espanhol, Reflexiones sobre Filosofia Moral, publicada por J. Herceg, a seleção de notas da Cambridge Edition intitulada Notes and Fragments e a tradução francesa de Luc Langlois, Réflexions Sur La Philosophie Morale. Com o objetivo de dar mais clareza aos apontamentos, facilitando a interpretação, optei por completar, em alguns casos, as sentenças de Kant nas quais certas palavras ficam subentendidas. Este complemento está apresentado entre colchetes. Para fins comparativos, todas as Reflexões traduzidas são acompanhadas por sua correspondente original nas notas de rodapé. Ciente de todas as dificuldades desse tipo de trabalho, desde já, deixo aberto à comunidade acadêmica o espaço para críticas, sugestões e correções. (shrink)
We discuss Kant’s conception of beneficence against the background of the overdemandingness debate. We argue that Kant’s conception of beneficence constitutes a sweet spot between overdemandingess and undemandingess. To this end we defend four key claims that together constitute a novel interpretation of Kant’s account of beneficence: 1) for the same reason that we are obligated to be beneficent to others we are permitted to be beneficent to ourselves; 2) we can prioritise our own ends; 3) it is more virtuous (...) to do more rather than less when it comes to helping others; and 4) indifference to others is vicious. Finally, we explain how this represents a system of duties that gives our personal ends a moral standing without unacceptably moralising them. (shrink)
In this paper I discuss the problem of the Kantian line. The problem arises because the locus of value in Kantian ethics is rationality, which (counterintuitively) seems to entail that there are no duties to groups of beings like children. I argue that recent attempts to solve this problem by Wood and O’Neill overlook an important aspect of it before posing my own solution.
In this paper I defend the traditional interpretations of Kant’s Formula of a Law of Nature from recent attacks leveled by Faviola Rivera-Castro, James Furner, Ido Geiger, Pauline Kleingeld and Sven Nyholm. After a short introduction, the paper is divided into four main sections. In the first, I set out the basics of the three traditional interpretations, the Logical Contradiction Interpretation, the Practical Contradiction Interpretation and the Teleological Contradiction Interpretation. In the second, I examine the work of Geiger, Kleingeld and (...) Nyholm: these three commentators reject the traditional interpretations entirely, but I argue that this rejection is ill-founded. In the third and fourth, I take a detailed look at Furner’s work, work in which he seeks to revise (rather than reject) the traditional interpretations. I argue that, despite his more modest aims, Furner’s revision is also ill-founded. (shrink)
Can you be brave if you’re afraid? Why do we “know better” and do things anyway? What makes a family? Philosophers have wrestled with such questions for centuries. They are also the stuff of playground debates. Ethics for the Very Young uses the perplexities of young children’s lives to spark philosophical dialogue. Its lessons scaffold discussion through executive function games (Telephone, Red Light Green Light), dialogic reading of picture books and Reggio Emilia’s art-based inquiry. In the process, children develop skills (...) of dialogue and critical thinking through increased selective attention, self-control, cognitive flexibility and perspective taking. While the elements of this method are familiar, they are here fused into an organic whole grounded in the history of philosophy and defended by current work in developmental psychology. Building on Wartenberg’s Big Ideas for Little Kids, the present curriculum uses a series of 23 picture books to frame discussions of character, bravery, self-control, friendship, the greater good, respect and care. Its goal is not to “teach morals” but to help children articulate and develop their own perspectives through dialogue with each other. Each lesson presents teachers’ reflections on how this exploration of life's enduring questions transformed their school’s culture. (shrink)
'Autonomy' is originally a political notion. In this chapter, I argue that the political theory Kant defended while he was writing the _Groundwork_ sheds light on the difficulties that are commonly associated with his account of moral autonomy. I argue that Kant's account of the two-tiered structure of political legislation, in his _Feyerabend Lectures on Natural Law_, parallels his distinction between two levels of moral legislation, and that this helps to explain why Kant could regard the notion of 'autonomy' as (...) apt to express the principle of morality---at least in the mid 1780s. (shrink)
One of the most important difficulties facing Kant’s Formula of Universal Law (FUL) is its apparent inability to show that it is always impermissible to kill others for the sake of convenience. This difficulty has led current Kantian ethicists to de-emphasize the FUL or at least complement it with other Kantian principles when dealing with murder. The difficulty stems from the fact that the maxim of convenience killing fails to generate a ‘contradiction in conception’, producing only a ‘contradiction in the (...) will’ when subjected to the two-fold test associated with the FUL. This result is thought to imply that the FUL allows us sometimes to kill for the sake of convenience. In this essay, I argue that the very diagnosis of the problem rests on a mistake, and that if the maxim of convenience killing generates a contradiction in the will, then acting on it is never permissible. (shrink)
This thesis provides a restatement of Kantian constructivism, with the aim of avoiding some of the objections and clearing up some of the ambiguities that have haunted previous versions of the view. I restate Kantian constructivism as the view that morality’s normativity has its source in the form of second-personal reasoning, a mode of practical reasoning in which we engage when we address demands person-to-person. By advancing a position about the source of moral normativity, Kantian constructivism addresses a metaethical question, (...) albeit one that is distinct from the questions that many traditional metaethical positions, such as moral realism, focus on. Kantian constructivism has an advantage over competing views of the source of moral normativity when it comes to answering the so-called Normative Question, which I interpret as the question of why we are rationally required to do what we take to be our moral obligation. Kantian constructivism can answer this question because, unlike its competitors, it does not conceive of practical reason as a receptive faculty that is determined by external inputs. Instead, it regards the very form of second-personal reasoning as grounding the fact that morality is normative, thus explaining morality’s rational authority. Although second-personal reasoning is fundamentally distinct from the merely first-personal mode of reasoning that we must engage in insofar as we are agents, all those agents whom we would ordinarily consider bound by moral obligations seem to engage in it. Indeed, although it involves irreducibly second-personal notions, such as accountability and the authority to address legitimate demands, second-personal reasoning is not to be mistaken for a social practice. Instead, it can be applied to purely self-regarding contexts, such as that of committing oneself to a personal project and thereby holding oneself accountable for pursuing it, as well as to interactions with others. (shrink)
Immanuel Kant's Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals ranks alongside Plato's Republic and Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics as one of the most profound and influential works in moral philosophy ever written.
Kantian ethics today is dominated followers of Rawls, many of them his former students. Following Rawls they interpret Kant as a moral constructivist who defines the good in terms of the reasonable. Such readings give priority to the first formulation of the categorical imperative and argue that the other two formulations are (ontologically or definitionally) dependent upon it. In contrast the aim of my paper will be to show that Kant should be interpreted firstly as a moral idealist and secondly (...) as, it least in a certain sense a particularist who takes morality to involve the exercise of recognitional capacities rather than following principles or rules. In claiming that Kant is a moral idealist we won’t mean to imply that he is an anti-realist, indeed we believe that he is a realist. Instead, by ‘moral idealism’ it is meant the position that maintains that to be moral is to instantiate an ideal. And so understood moral idealism can be seen as offering an alternative to both constructivism and utilitarianism. (shrink)
Como introducción interpretativa a la “segunda etapa” de la teoría moral de F. Miró Quesada, se analizan sus tres últimos trabajos éticos para ver cómo intenta refi-nar la deontología kantiana, superar sus aparentes límites –materialismo encubierto, formalismo vacío y dualismo absurdo–, y repensar la moral como una moneda de dos caras: simetría y no arbitrariedad. Se presta especial atención a la simetría como condición suficiente para la ética.
The goal of this article is to introduce, interpret, and defend the originality of the «first half» of the rational foundation of ethics of Francisco Miró Quesada Cantuarias (Lima 1918-2019). To do so, we will focus on his three first ethical works —«El Intelectual, el Occidente y la Política» (1965), «Sobre el Derecho Justo» (1976) y «Ser Humano Naturaleza, Historia» (1987)—, leaving his later works aside for a complementary work. We will show how Miró Quesada tries to refine Immanuel Kant’s (...) moral philosophy, overcoming its possible main flaw —here called disguised materialism— and rethinking the supreme moral principle, which he calls non-arbitrariness. We will also evaluate both his thesis that the principle of non-arbitrariness is the necessary condition of ethics and his invitation to renounce looking for its sufficient condition. On the way, we will highlight the originality of Miró Quesada’s proposal. Finally, we will advance the central thesis of his later ethical works and posit brief questions that his moral theory needs to answer. (shrink)
Autonomy is one of the central concepts of contemporary moral thought, and Kant is often credited with being the inventor of individual moral autonomy. But how and why did Kant develop this notion? The Emergence of Autonomy in Kant's Moral Philosophy is the first essay collection exclusively devoted to this topic. It traces the emergence of autonomy from Kant's earliest writings to the changes that he made to the concept in his mature works. The essays offer a close historical and (...) philosophical analysis of what prompted Kant to develop his conception of autonomy, charting the historical background which prompted his search, and thoroughly analysing different stages of his writings in order to see which element of autonomy was introduced at which point. The resulting volume will be of interest to both scholars and students of Kantian moral philosophy, as well as to anyone interested in the subject of autonomy. (shrink)
Kant wird oft als einer derjenigen großen Philosophen angesehen, dessen Werk wesentlich zum jetzigen Verständnis der Menschenrechte und Menschenwürde beigetragen hat. Kant scheint, wenn man in seine Schriften schaut, jedoch keine Theorie der Menschenrechte im modernen Sinne gehabt zu haben. Bei näherem Hinsehen zeigt sich folgender Grund: Kant unterscheidet zwischen dem bloß privaten Recht, das dem positiven Recht untergeordnet ist, und dem öffentlichen Recht, das die begrifflichen Bedingungen einer jeden legitimen, legalen Ordnung darstellt. Der Inhalt des öffentlichen Rechts wird bei (...) ihm weder direkt aus einer freistehenden Moraltheorie abgeleitet, noch aus vertraglichen Übereinkünften oder dem positiven Recht. Stattdessen soll es aus den Ermöglichungsbedingungen einer rechtmäßigen Verfassung expliziert werden, unter der allein Ansprüchen auf (ein) „Recht“ irgendeine verbindliche Autorität zukommt. Wenn man diesen Ansatz ernst nimmt, kann man kaum eine Lesart bei Kant finden, die sich mit der modernen Auffassung von Menschenrechten vereinbaren lässt. Warum aber denken dann manche, dass Kant etwas zum modernen Verständnis der Menschenrechte beizutragen hätte? So lauten denn die Leitfragen der Erörterung: Welche Auffassungen in Kants Werk kommen einem zeitgenössischen Verständnis von Menschenrechten am nächsten? Warum jedoch können diese menschrechtlich vielleicht ähnlich klingenden Auffassungen Kants den heutigen Befürwortern der Menschenrechte doch keine Quelle oder Stütze bieten? (shrink)
In an earlier paper, Stephen Kershnar argued for the following thesis: An instance of trash-talking is permissible if and only if the relevant sports organization’s system of rules permits the expression. One person trash-talks a second if and only if the first intentionally insults the second during competition. The above theory sounds implausible. Surely, the conditions under which a player may insult another do not depend on what the owners arbitrarily decide. Such an approach doesn’t appear to be true in (...) the workplace, bar, or sandlot, so it is hard to see why it should be true in sport. With this general skepticism in mind, this paper evaluates Nicholas Dixon’s objections. Dixon rejects Kershnar’s argument because trash-talking conflicts with the internal value of a sport, violates a right, and degrades the person toward whom the trash-talking is directed. (shrink)