I criticize recent nonconceptualist readings of Kant’s account of perception on the grounds that the strategy of the Deduction requires that understanding be involved in the synthesis of imagination responsible for the intentionality of perceptual experience. I offer an interpretation of the role of understanding in perceptual experience as the consciousness of normativity in the association of one’s representations. This leads to a reading of Kant which is conceptualist, but in a way which accommodates considerations favoring nonconceptualism, in particular the (...) primitive character of perceptual experience relative to thought and judgment. (shrink)
I defend the normativity of meaning against recent objections by arguing for a new interpretation of the ‘ought’ relevant to meaning. Both critics and defenders of the normativity thesis have understood statements about how an expression ought to be used as either prescriptive (indicating that speakers have reason to use the expression in a certain way) or semantic (designating certain uses as correct in a sense explicable in terms of truth). I propose an alternative view of the ‘ought’ as conveying (...) the primitively normative attitudes speakers must adopt towards their uses if they are to use the expression with understanding. (shrink)
I distinguish two senses in which organisms are mechanically inexplicable for Kant. Mechanical inexplicability in the first sense is shared with artefacts, and consists in their exhibiting regularities irreducible to the regularities of matter. Mechanical inexplicability in the second sense is peculiar to organisms, consisting in the reciprocal causal dependence of an organism's parts. This distinction corresponds to two strands of thought in Aristotle, one supporting a teleological conception of organisms, the other supporting a conception of organisms as natural. Recognizing (...) this distinction helps us to see how a teleological conception of organisms is compatible with recent advances in biology. (shrink)
As most of its readers are aware, the Critique of Pure Reason is primarily concerned not with empirical, but with a priori knowledge. For the most part, the Kant of the ﬁrst Critique tends to assume that experience, and the knowledge that is based on it, is unproblematic. The problem with which he is concerned is that of how we can be capable of substantive knowledge independently of experience. At the same time, however, the notion of experience plays a crucial (...) role in the central arguments of the Critique. For, again as most readers of the Critique know, Kant aims to show how we can have synthetic a priori knowledge by showing that the categories, or pure concepts of the understanding, are conditions of the possibility of experience. This means that, whether or not Kant is concerned with the notion of experience for its own sake, his account of a priori knowledge carries with it at least some commitments regarding the character of experience. If the account of a priori knowledge is to be successful, then experience has to be the kind of thing for which the categories can, in principle, serve as conditions of possibility. More specifically, experience must involve not only the senses, but also thought or understanding, for otherwise the claim that it presupposes a certain speciﬁc set of concepts is simply unintelligible. And indeed at least some parts of the Critique, in particular the so-called subjective deduction in the ﬁrst edition, and the briefer passages which correspond to it in the second edition, seem to be intended to show how this requirement is met. That is, they are concerned not so much with showing that experience is governed by the categories, as with elaborating a view of experience as involving conceptual activity überhaupt. (shrink)
Davidson claims that nothing can count as a reason for a belief except another belief. This claim is challenged by McDowell, who holds that perceptual experiences can count as reasons for beliefs. I argue that McDowell fails to take account of a distinction between two different senses in which something can count as a reason for belief. While a non-doxastic experience can count as a reason for belief in one of the two senses, this is not the sense which is (...) presupposed in Davidson's claim. While I focus on McDowell's view, the argument generalizes to other views which take experiences as reasons for belief. (shrink)
Anandi Hattiangadi packs a lot of argument into this lucid, well-informed and lively examination of the meaning scepticism which Kripke ascribes to Wittgenstein. Her verdict on the success of the sceptical considerations is mixed. She concludes that they are sufﬁcient to rule out all accounts of meaning and mental content proposed so far. But she believes that they fail to constitute, as Kripke supposed they did, a fully general argument against the possibility of meaning or content. Even though we are (...) not now in a position to specify facts in which meaning consists, the view that there are such facts, and more speciﬁcally that they satisfy the intuitive conception of meaning which she labels ‘semantic realism’, remains a live option. Moreover, given.. (shrink)
In a well-known passage from the Introduction to Kant’s Critique of Judgment, Kant defines the power or faculty of judgment [Urteilskraft] as "the capacity to think the particular as contained under the universal" (Introduction IV, 5:179).1 He then distinguishes two ways in which this faculty can be exercised, namely as determining or as reflecting. These two ways are defined as follows: "If the universal (the rule, the principle, the law) is given, then judgment, which subsumes the particular under it... is (...) determining. But if merely the particular is given, for which the universal is to be found, then judgment is merely reflecting" (ibid.) As Kant goes on to make clear, the Critique of Judgment is particularly concerned with judgment in its capacity as reflecting rather than determining. It is concerned, that is, with how we are to find universals (which he glosses as rules, principles, or laws) for given particulars. Despite the fact that the term "concept" does not appear in this set of definitions, Kant’s discussions of judgment elsewhere make it clear that this faculty can be identified at least in part with our capacity to think particular objects under concepts, in particular empirical concepts.2 The.. (shrink)
The view that the content of experience is conceptual is often felt to conflict with the empiricist intuition that experience precedes thought, rather than vice versa. This concern is explicitly articulated by Ayers as an objection both to McDowell and Davidson, and to the conceptualist view more generally. The paper aims to defuse the objection in its general form by presenting a version of conceptualism which is compatible with empiricism. It proposes an account of observational concepts on which possession of (...) such a concept involves more than the ability for perceptual discrimination, but less than the capacity to employ the concept in inferences: it consists in the capacity to perceptually discriminate objects with the awareness that one is discriminating as one ought. This understanding of concept-possession allows us make sense of experiences' having conceptual content without supposing that the subject must grasp the relevant concepts prior to having those experiences. (shrink)
During the last fifteen years or so there has been much debate, among philosophers interested in perception, on the question of whether the representational content of perceptual experience is conceptual or nonconceptual. Recently, however, a number of philosophers have challenged the terms of this debate, arguing that one of its most basic assumptions is mistaken. Experience, they claim, does not have representational content at all. On the kind of approach they suggest, having a perceptual experience is not to be understood (...) on the model of thought or belief, as a matter of the subject's taking things in the world to be this or that way, or of having this or that feature. Nor is it to be understood on the model of receiving testimony about how things are in the world, as a matter of its being represented to us that things are this or that way. Rather, it is simply a matter of our being presented with things. Having a perceptual experience of an object is a matter of our standing in a certain kind of relation to it which makes it available to us to be represented in thought or belief, but which does not itself involve our representing it, or its being represented to us.1 Much of the motivation for rejecting the view that experience has representational content springs from a concern to do justice to what is distinctive about perceptual experience in contrast to thought and belief. In particular, perceptual experience seems to be more "primitive" than thought, in that it seems natural to appeal to the character of perceptual experience to explain the possibility of thought about objects rather than the other way around. There is thus a concern that we will deprive.. (shrink)
The article surveys Kant’s treatment of biological teleology in the ’Critique of Judgment’, with special attention to the question of whether the notion of natural teleology is coherent. It argues that our entitlement to regard nature as teleological is not established by the argument of the ’Antinomy’, but rather results from our entitlement to regard the workings of our own cognitive faculties in normative terms. This implies a view of the relation between biological teleology and the representational character of mind (...) which is the reverse of that adopted by naturalistic theorists of mind like Fred Dretske and Ruth Millikan. (shrink)
I draw a connection between the question, raised by Hume and Kant, of how aesthetic judgments can claim universal agreement, and the question, raised in recent discussions of nonconceptual content, of how concepts can be acquired on the basis of experience. Developing an idea suggested by Kant's linkage of aesthetic judgment with the capacity for empirical conceptualization, I propose that both questions can be resolved by appealing to the idea of "perceptual normativity". Perceptual experience, on this proposal, involves the awareness (...) of its own appropriateness with respect to the object perceived, where this appropriateness is more primitive than truth or veridicality. This means that a subject can take herself to be perceiving an object as she (and anyone else) ought to perceive it, without first recognizing the object as falling under a corresponding concept. I motivate the proposal through a criticism of Peacocke's account of concept-acquisition, which, I argue, rests on a confusion between the notion of a way something is perceived, and that of a way it is perceived as being. Whereas Peacocke's account of concept-acquisition depends on an illicit slide between these two notions, the notion of perceptual normativity allows a legitimate transition between them: if someone's perceiving something a certain way involves her taking it that she ought to perceive it that way, then she perceives the thing as being a certain way, so that the corresponding concept is available to her in perceptual experience. (shrink)
I argue that Stroud's nonreductionism about meaning is insufficiently motivated. First, given that he rejects the assumption that grasp of an expression's meaning guides or instructs us in its use, he has no reason to accept Kripke's arguments against dispositionalism or related reductive views. Second, his argument that reductive views are impossible because they attempt to explain language “from outside” rests on an equivocation between two senses in which an explanation of language can be from outside language. I offer a (...) partially reductive account of meaning which appeals both to speakers’ dispositions to produce and respond to utterances in naturalistically specifiable ways, and to the normative attitudes they adopt, in so doing, to their own behavior. This account is supported, I argue, by Stroud's early treatment of Wittgenstein's rule-following considerations and in particular of the agreement in primitive judgments or reactions which Wittgenstein takes to be required for linguistic communication. (shrink)
While Kant is perhaps best known for his writings in metaphysics and epistemology (in particular the Critique of Pure Reason of 1781, with a second edition in 1787) and in ethics (the Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals of 1785 and the Critique of Practical Reason of 1788), he also developed an influential and much-discussed theory of aesthetics. This theory is presented in his Critique of Judgment (Kritik der Urteilskraft, also translated as Critique of the Power of Judgment) of 1790, (...) a two-part work which deals successively with aesthetics and with the role of teleology (that is, appeal to ends or goals) in natural science and in our understanding of nature more generally. Although Kant's theory of teleology has traditionally been both less influential, and less widely discussed, than his aesthetic theory, its historical and philosophical importance is increasingly coming to be recognized. (shrink)
I defend the normativity of meaning against recent objections by arguing for a new interpretation of the ‘ought’ relevant to meaning. Both critics and defenders of the normativity thesis have understood statements about how an expression ought to be used as either prescriptive or semantic. I propose an alternative view of the ‘ought’ as conveying the primitively normative attitudes speakers must adopt towards their uses if they are to use the expression with understanding.
I point out some unclarities in Allison's interpretation of Kant's aesthetic theory, specifically in his account of the free play of the faculties. I argue that there is a tension between Allison's commitment to the intentionality of the pleasure involved in a judgment of beauty, and his view that the pleasure is distinct from the judgment, and I claim that the tension should be resolved by rejecting the latter view. I conclude by addressing Allison's objection that my own view fails (...) to accommodate judgments of non-beauty or ugliness. (shrink)
First published in 1990. This title, originally a Ph. D. dissertation submitted to the Department of Philosophy at Harvard University in July 1988, grew out of an interest in the foundations of twentieth-century analytic philosophy. Believing that the idea of the primacy of judgment was an important one for understanding more recent issues in analytic philosophy, the author started to think about its historical antecedents. By examining Kant’s _Critique of Judgement_, Ginsborg explores the notion of a judgment of taste, as (...) a judgment which has intersubjective validity without being objectively valid, and therefore bear’s directly on the notion of the primacy of judgment as an aspect of Kant's account of objectivity. This title will be of interest to students of philosophy. (shrink)
I defend my ‘one-act’ interpretation of Kant’s account of judgments of beauty against recent criticisms by Paul Guyer. Guyer’s text-based arguments for his own ‘two-acts’ view rely on the assumption that a claim to the universal validity of one’s pleasure presupposes the prior existence of the pleasure. I argue that pleasure in the beautiful claims its own universal validity, thus obviating the need to distinguish two independent acts of judging. The resulting view, I argue, is closer to the text and (...) more phenomenologically plausible than Guyer’s two-acts alternative. (shrink)
Mark Evan Bonds makes a distinction between two concepts of absolute music: as repertory, and as ‘regulative concept’. This paper explores the distinction, and distinguishes further two debates associated with these two concepts: one about the value of absolute music in the repertory sense, the other about the extent to which music is ‘absolute’ in the sense of lacking expressive or representational content. It ends with a proposal about how reflection on the first debate can help provide a resolution of (...) the second. (shrink)
L’idée d’un jugement [Urteil], et du pouvoir de juger [Vermögen zu urteilen], joue un rôle cardinal dans l’argumentation de la Critique de la raison pure. L’argument central de la première Critique vise à montrer comment les concepts purs de l’entendement peuvent s’appliquer aux objets qui nous sont donnés dans l’expérience. Cet argument dépend de l’idée que l’expérience n’est pas l’affaire de la sensibilité à elle seule, mais qu’elle implique, dès le début, le concours de l’entendement. Or, l’entendement n’est rien d’autre (...) que la capacité de faire des jugements. Comme dit Kant, «nous pouvons ramener tous les actes de l’entendement à des jugements, de telle sorte que l’entendement peut être représenté en général comme un pouvoir de juger» (CRP, A69/B94).1 Cette identification est au coeur de la déduction métaphysique des catégories, où Kant affirme découvrir, suivant le fil conducteur offert par les formes logiques du jugement, les concept purs de l’entendement. Et elle réapparaît dans la déduction transcendantale, où il s’agit non pas d’établir la table des categories, mais de prouver que les catégories s’appliquent à l’expérience. Car si l’expérience exige le concours de l’entendement, et l’entendement est un pouvoir de juger, il s’ensuit que le divers de représentations données doit être... (shrink)
I am grateful to the commentators for their sympathetic and thoughtful attention to my work. The questions and objections they raise go to the heart of my project, and, while it has been rewarding to work through them, it has not been easy to respond to them. For reasons of space, I have not been able to address every point raised, but I have tried to respond to those which I find most challenging.
Hannah Ginsborg presents fourteen essays which establish Kant's Critique of Judgment as a central contribution to the understanding of human cognition. The papers bring out the significance of Kant's philosophical notion of judgment, and use it to address interpretive issues in Kant's aesthetics, theory of knowledge, and philosophy of biology.