Kant famously declares that “although all our cognition commences with experience, … it does not on that account all arise from experience”. This marks Kant’s disagreement with empiricism, and his contention that human knowledge and experience require both sensation and the use of certain a priori concepts, the Categories. However, this is only the surface of Kant’s much deeper, though neglected view about the nature of reason and judgment. Kant holds that even our a priori concepts are acquired, not from (...) sensation, but “originally,” because our mind has a fundamental capacity to judge that, upon sensory stimulation, generates the Categories through its basic logical functions of judgment. This “epigenesis” of reason and our fundamental capacity to judge that drives it is the topic of Longuenesse’s fascinating book, and the source of her title. (shrink)
This book is the first detailed study of Kant's method of 'transcendental reflection' and its use in the Critique of Pure Reason to identify our basic human cognitive capacities, and to justify Kant's transcendental proofs of the necessary a priori conditions for the possibility of self-conscious human experience. Kenneth Westphal, in a closely argued internal critique of Kant's analysis, shows that if we take Kant's project seriously in its own terms, the result is not transcendental idealism but realism regarding physical (...) objects. Westphal attends to neglected topics - Kant's analyses of the transcendental affinity of the sensory manifold, the 'lifelessness of matter', fallibilism, the semantics of cognitive reference, four externalist aspects of Kant's views, and the importance of Kant's Metaphysical Foundations for the Critique of Pure Reason - that illuminate Kant's enterprise in new and valuable ways. His book will appeal to all who are interested in Kant's theoretical philosophy. (shrink)
Kenneth R. Westphal presents an original interpretation of Hume's and Kant's moral philosophies, the differences between which are prominent in current philosophical accounts. Westphal argues that focussing on these differences, however, occludes a decisive, shared achievement: a distinctive constructivist account of the basic principles of justice which justifies their strict objectivity without invoking moral realism nor moral anti- or irrealism. Westphal explores how Hume developed a kind of constructivism for basic property rights and for government, and how Kant greatly refined (...) Hume's construction of justice within his 'metaphysical principles of justice', whilst preserving the core model of Hume's innovative account. Westphal contends that Hume's and Kant's constructivism avoids the conventionalist and relativist tendencies latent if not explicit in contemporary forms of moral constructivism. (shrink)
Though concise and introductory, this book argues inter alia that Dretske’s information-theoretic epistemology must take into account that many of our information channels are socially constructed, not least through learning concepts and information. These social aspects of human knowledge are consistent with realism about the objects of our empirical knowledge. It further argues that, though important, Margaret Gilbert’s social ontology in principle can neither accommodate nor account for the most fundamental social dimensions of human cognition.
This article reconstructs Hegel’s chapter “Sense Certainty” (Phenomenology of Spirit, chap. 1) in detail in its historical and philosophical context. Hegel’s chapter develops a sound internal critique of naive realism that shows that sensation is necessary but not sufficient for knowledge of sensed particulars. Cognitive reference to particulars also requires using a priori conceptions of space, spaces, time, times, self, and individuation. Several standard objections to and misinterpretations of Hegel’s chapter are rebutted. Hegel’s protosemantics is shown to accord in important (...) regards with Gareth Evans’ view in “Identity and Predication.”. (shrink)
This article examines how Quine and Sellars develop informatively contrasting responses to a fundamental tension in Carnap’s semantics ca. 1950. Quine’s philosophy could well be styled ‘Essays in Radical Empiricism’; his assay of radical empiricism is invaluable for what it reveals about the inherent limits of empiricism. Careful examination shows that Quine’s criticism of Carnap’s semantics in ‘Two Dogmas of Empiricism’ fails, that at its core Quine’s semantics is for two key reasons incoherent and that his hallmark Thesis of Extensionalism (...) is untenable. The tension in Carnap’s semantics together with Quine’s exposure of the severe limits of radical empiricism illuminate central features of Sellars’s philosophy: the fully general form of the myth of givenness, together with Sellars’s alternative Kantian characterisation of understanding; the full significance of Carnap’s distinction between conceptual analysis and conceptual explication, and its important methodological implications; the specifically pragmatic character of Sellars’s realism; and Sellars’s methodological reasons for holding that philosophy must be systematic and that systematic philosophy must be deeply historically and textually informed. This paper thus re-examines this recent episode of philosophical history for its philosophical benefits and systematic insights. (shrink)
Hegel’s Philosophy of Right responds to two dichotomies. One is between the freedom of rational thought in its practical application and the givenness of natural impulses and desires. Against Kant Hegel argues that pure reason alone cannot determine the content of any maxim or principle of action. Thus Hegel must find a way in which the content of natural needs and impulses – the only source of content for maxims of action – can be transfigured into contents of rationally self-given (...) principles and maxims. Hegel also responds to the dichotomy between the individual agent and the social whole within which agents act. Hegel argues that this dichotomy is specious because human beings are fundamentally social practitioners and because neither social practices nor individual agents have priority over the other. There are no social practices without social practitioners and there are no social practitioners without social practices. Hegel’s response to this second dichotomy allows him to respond to the first one as well. The elaboration and specialization of natural needs and desires through exchange relations and the social division of labor transfigures the contents of those needs and desires into collectively self-given ends. The social practices producing this transfiguration and meeting these ends form the contents of implicit principles of right. These implicit principles are collectively self-given because they result from the social practices collectively developed to meet these needs. Only acts that are executed and accepted by an agent are free acts. This strong condition requires that an agent’s intentions correspond to the actual nature and consequences of his or her act. Since the aims, the principles, and the means of action are fundamentally social, these strong constraints entail that free action is possible only within a community which makes known its structure and the role of its members within it and their contribution to it, so that its members can act on the basis of that knowledge. Hegel’s theory of the state is a theory of a communal structure that makes such explicit, free action possible. In briefest compass, Hegel holds that laws are legitimate only insofar as they codify those practices that have been developed in order to achieve human freedom, and laws are obligatory only insofar as they are necessary for achieving human freedom. Hegel’s government is designed to codify and promulgate such laws. Hegel’s legislature is designed to make known to the citizens at large, through their corporate representatives, that laws have such a basis and how individual roles and actions fit within the community as a whole. (shrink)
Rejection of the philosophical relevance of history of philosophy remains pronounced within contemporary analytic philosophy. The two main reasons for this rejection presuppose that strict deduction is both necessary and sufficient for rational justification. However, this justificatory ideal of scientia holds only within strictly formal domains. This is confirmed by a neglected non-sequitur in van Fraassen’s original defence of ‘Constructive Empiricism’. Conversely, strict deduction is insufficient for rational justification in non-formal, substantive domains of inquiry. In non-formal, substantive domains, rational justification (...) is also, in part, ineliminably social and historical, for sound reasons Hegel was the first to articulate. Demonstrating this involves considering closely two key reasons many analytic philosophers (still) reject the philosophical relevance of historical philosophy (§2). As specific example of presumed, though fallacious, deductivism about justification in the non-formal domain of empirical knowledge is found in van Fraassen’s (1980) defence of ‘Constructive Empiricism’ (§3). These first two sections contend that philosophical consideration of historical philosophy is required to properly formulate key issues in non-formal domains. I next consider the further issues involved rational justification in non-formal domains, issues quintessentially posed by the Pyrrhonian Dilemma of the Criterion (§4). Finally I consider what kind of history of philosophy is required for cogent philosophy in non-formal domains (§5). (shrink)
Hume sought to analyse our propositionally-structured thought in terms of our ultimate awareness of nothing but objects, sensory impressions or their imagistic copies, The ideas of space and time are often regarded as exceptions to his Copy Theory of impressions and ideas. On grounds strictly internal to Humes account of the generality of thought. This ultimately reveals the limits of the Copy Theory and of Concept Empiricism. The key is to recognise how very capacious is our (Humean) imaginative capacity to (...) associate particular perceptions by various fine-grained determinable resemblances. (shrink)
The term ‘realism’ and its contrasting terms have various related senses, although often they occlude as much as they illuminate, especially if ontological and epistemological issues and their tenable combinations are insufficiently clarified. For example, in 1807 the infamous ‘idealist’ Hegel argued cogently that any tenable philosophical theory of knowledge must take the natural and social sciences into very close consideration, which he himself did. Here I argue that Hegel ably and insightfully defends Newton’s causal realism about gravitational force, in (...) part by exposing a fatal equivocation in the traditional concept of substance, by criticizing some still-standard empiricist misconceptions of force, by emphasizing the role of explanatory integration in Newtonian mechanics, and by using his powerful semantics of singular, specifically cognitive reference to justify fallibilism regarding empirical justification, together with the semantic core of Newton’s Rule Four of (experimental) Philosophy—in a way that highlights a key fallacy in many arguments against realism, both in epistemology and within philosophy of science. (shrink)
Kant was the first great anti-Cartesian in epistemology and philosophy of mind. He criticised five central tenets of Cartesianism and developed sophisticated alternatives to them. His transcendental analysis of the necessary a priori conditions for the very possibility of self-conscious human experience invokes externalism about justification and proves externalism about mental content. Semantic concern with the unity of the proposition—required for propositionally structured awareness and self-awareness—is central to Kant’s account of the unity of any cognitive judgment. The perceptual ‘binding problem’ (...) is central to Kant’s account of the unity of the object in perception. This paper outlines Kant’s development and justification of his a rationalist account of our active intellect and its roles in perceptual consciousness and in rational judgment, including our consciousness of our rational freedom, all through a radically innovative transcendental inquiry into the necessary a priori conditions for us to be conscious at all. Kant’s anti-Cartesianism is a major philosophical breakthrough far surpassing contemporary anti-Cartesian efforts. It behoves us to give Kant his due and avail ourselves of his profound insights into the nature of human mindedness. (shrink)
Kant’s and Hegel’s transcendental argument for mental-content externalism breaks the deadlock between ‘internal’ and genuine realists. This argument shows that human beings can only be self-conscious in a world that provides a humanly recognizable regularity and variety among the things (or events) we sense. This feature of the world cannot result from human thought or language. Hence semantic arguments against realism can only be developed if realism about the world is true. Some of Putnam’s arguments for internal realism are taken (...) as cases in point, and criticized accordingly. Pragmatic realists can use this transcendental argument, because its strong modal claims are consistent with falliblist accounts of justification. (shrink)
Kant’s justification of possession appears to assume rather than prove its legitimacy. This apparent question-begging has been recapitulated or exacerbated but not resolved in the literature. However, Kant provides a sound justification of limited rights to possess and use things (qualified choses in possession), not of private property rights. Kant’s argument is not purely a priori; it is in Kant’s Critical sense ‘metaphysical’ because it applies the pure a priori ‘Universal Principles of Right’ to the concept of finite rational human (...) agency. This use implicitly involves a ‘Contradiction in Conception’ test, which I explicate in detail. The limited rights to possession and use justified by Kant’s argument suffice for his social contract argument for the legitimacy of the state. (shrink)
A 5,000-word conspectus of Hegel’s moral philosophy which considers the theoretical context of his moral philosophy (§1), his accounts of legal, personal, moral and social freedom (§2), the structure of Hegel’s analysis in his Philosophy of Justice (or »Rechtsphilosophie«) (§3), his account of role obligations as a central component of social freedom (§4), and his integrated account of individual autonomy and social reconciliation (§5).
Argues inter alia that Kant and Hegel identified necessary conditions for the possibility of singular cognitive reference that incorporate avant la lettre Evans’ (1975) analysis of identity and predication, that Kant’s and Hegel’s semantics of singular cognitive reference are crucial to McDowell’s account of singular thoughts, and that McDowell has neglected (to the detriment of his own view) these conditions and their central roles in Kant’s and in Hegel’s theories of knowledge. > Reprinted in: J. Lindgaard, ed., John McDowell: Experience, (...) Norm and Nature (Oxford: Blackwell, 2008d), 124–151. (shrink)
Hume and contemporary Humeans contend that moral sentiments form the sole and sufficient basis of moral judgments. This thesis is criticised by appeal to Hume’s theory of justice, which shows that basic principles of justice are required to form and to maintain society, which is indispensable to human life, and that acting according to, or violating, these principles is right, or wrong, regardless of anyone’s sentiments, motives or character. Furthermore, Hume’s theory of justice shows how the principles of justice are (...) artificial without being arbitrary. In this regard, Hume’s theory belongs to the unjustly neglected modern natural law tradition. Some key merits of this strand in Hume’s theory are explicated by linking it to Kant’s constructivist method of identifying and justifying practical principles (à la O’Neill), and by showing how and why Hegel adopted and further developed Kant’s constructivism by re-integrating it with Hume’s central natural law concern with our actual social practices. (Slightly revised English translation by the author of „Von der Konvention zur Sittlichkeit. Humes Begründung einer Rechtsethik aus nach-Kantischer Perspektive“, on which see below.). (shrink)
I argue that Hegel is aware of a crucial problem in Kant’s transcendental account of the conditions of human knowledge. Unless the matter of sensation is sufficiently ordered (and sufficiently varied) we could not make any cognitive judgments. In that case we could not distinguish ourselves from objects we know, and so could not be self-conscious. This is a necessary, formal and transcendental condition of possible human experience. However, it is also (as Kant acknowledged) a material – not a conceptual (...) or an intutive – condition. Consequently, Kant’s idealism cannot account for it. This provides one key to Hegel’s internal critique of Kant’s idealism. (shrink)
In Kant and the Dynamics of Reason, Gerd Buchdahl proposes to solve Jacobi’s objection to Kant’s metaphysics – one needs a ‘thing-in-itself’ to enter the Critical Philosophy, but one cannot uphold both that philosophy and the ‘thing-in-itself’ – by interpreting Kant in terms of a phenomenological ‘reduction’ of objects to their transcendental conditions and their subesequent ‘realization’ in various theoretical or practical contexts. I summarize Buchdahl’s interpretation and argue: (1) Buchdahl’s view faces an exact analog of Jacobi’s problem; (2) Buchdahl’s (...) view of Kant is much more a reconstruction than an interpretation of the Critical philosophy (this counsels greater caution and frankness about the extent to which we interpret or reconstruct Kant’s texts); (3) Buchdahl’s recent effort to address Kant’s practical philosophy is inadequate. (shrink)
_Grounds of Pragmatic Realism_ shows Hegel is a major epistemologist, who disentangled Kant’s critique of judgment, across the Critical corpus, from transcendental idealism, and augmented its enormous evaluative and justificatory significance for commonsense knowledge, the natural sciences and freedom of action.
This paper argues that Hegel’s Philosophical Outlines of Justice develops an incisive natural law theory by providing a comprehensive moral theory of a modern republic. Hegel’s Outlines adopt and augment a neglected species of moral constructivism which is altogether neutral about moral realism, moral motivation, and whether reasons for action are linked ‘internally’ or ‘externally’ to motives. Hegel shows that, even if basic moral norms and institutions are our artefacts, they are strictly objectively valid because for our very finite form (...) of semi-rational embodied agency they are necessary and because sufficient justifying grounds for these norms and institutions can be addressed to all persons. Hegel’s moral constructivism identifies and justifies the core content of a natural law theory, without invoking metaphysical issues of moral realism, anti-realism, irrealism or ‘truth makers’, etc. I begin with Socrates’ question to Euthyphro to distinguish between moral realism and moral irrealism. I then summarise basic points of constructivist method and how Hume’s theory of justice inaugurates this distinctive species of natural law constructivism. How this approach addresses issues of political legitimacy is highlighted by Rousseau’s juridical innovation. How this approach is better articulated and justified by Kant’s specifically Critical method is briefly considered in connection with his justification of rights to possession, so that we can then recognise Hegel’s natural law constructivism in his Outlines. Hegel’s account of rights to possession corresponds closely to Kant’s, and his account of juridical relations as human interrelations accords with natural law constructivism. This finding is corroborated by some central features of Hegel’s account of Sittlichkeit, including how Hegel adopts, undergirds and augments Rousseau’s and Kant’s Independence Requirement for political legitimacy. (shrink)
According to Kant, justifying the application of mathematics to objects in natural science requires metaphysically constructing the concept of matter. Kant develops these constructions in the Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science (MAdN). Kant’s specific aim is to develop a dynamic theory of matter to replace corpuscular theory. In his Preface Kant claims completely to exhaust the metaphysical doctrine of body, but in the General Remark to MAdN ch. 2, “Dynamics,” Kant admits that once matter is reconceived as basic forces, it (...) is no longer possible to construct the concept of matter. I argue that Kant’s admission is only the tip of the problem, and that none of Kant’s commentators has fully grasped the problems infecting the MAdN that underlie Kant’s admission. I show that Kant’s proof that matter consists of forces is fallacious. I then re-analyze the circularity in Kant’s definition of density, criticizing both Adickes’ formulations and his later dissolution of it. I also show that a third circularity infects the relations between Kant’s treatment of “Dynamics” and “Mechanics” (MAdN ch. 3). These three fundamental problems demonstrate the untenability of Kant’s metaphysical method, and they require the radical revision of the relation between mathematics and metaphysics Kant undertakes in his opus postumum. I show that some of Kant’s most surprising and critical later claims about the Critical philosophy are correct, and that they require the sorts of remedies Kant contemplates in the opus postumum. (I defend the essentially correct analyses offered by Burkhard Tuschling and Eckart Forster against criticisms by Michael Friedman.). (shrink)
This paper details the key steps in Kant’s transcendental proof that we perceive, not merely imagine, physical objects. These steps begin with Kant’s method (§II) and highlight the spatio-temporal character of our representational capacities (§III), Kant’s two transcendental proofs of mental content externalism (§IV), his proof that we can only make causal judgments about spatial substances (§§V, VI), the transcendental conditions of our self-ascription of experiences (§VII), Kant’s semantics of singular cognitive reference (§VIII), perceptual synthesis (§IX), Kant’s justificatory fallibilism (§X), (...) and the cognitive transcendence of global perceptual hypotheses (§XI). The proof outlined here differs markedly from ‘analytic transcendental arguments’ that focus selectively on Kant’s ‘Refutation of Idealism’ and portions of the ‘Transcendental Deduction of the Pure Concepts of the Understanding’. Understood as presented here, Kant’s epistemology is directly relevant to contemporary philosophical issues. (shrink)
Empirical investigations use empirical methods, data and evidence. This banal observation appears to favour empiricism, especially in philosophy of science, though no rationalist ever denied their importance. Natural sciences often provide what appear to be, and are taken by scientists as, realist, causal explanations of natural phenomena. Empiricism has never been congenial to scientific realism. Bas van Fraassen’s ‘Constructive Empiricism’ purports that realist interpretations of any scientific theory in principle always transcend whatever can be justified by that theory’s empirical adequacy, (...) and that ‘explanations’ are merely pragmatic, insofar as they are context-specific to the presuppositions of whomever poses the question an explanation is to answer. Here I argue that ‘Constructive Empiricism’ rests upon a series of flawed presumptions about natural science and about epistemology. To do so I draw upon two main resources. One resource is the constraints upon specifically cognitive reference to particulars, first identified by Kant (and later by Evans). The second is William Harper’s (2011) brilliant re-analysis and defence of Newton’s Principia, which shows that, and how, Newton justified his realism about gravitational force. One surprise is that Kant’s semantics of singular cognitive reference (examined in §3) directly and strongly supports Newton’s Rule 4 of scientific method (§4), which strongly supports his realism about gravitational force (summarised in §2). A further surprise is that Hegel first recognised that this semantics of singular cognitive reference directly and strongly supports Newton’s methodological Rule 4 of experimental philosophy in ways which support Newton’s realism about gravitational force, and about distance forces generally. The textual and exegetical issues these attributions require I examine elsewhere. Here I make these important findings available to philosophers and historians of science. (shrink)
This paper argues that moral particularism, defined as the view that moral judgment does not require moral principles, depends upon a constricted and untenable view of rational judgment as simple syllogistic ratiocination. This I demonstrate by re-examining Nussbaum’s (1986/2002) case for particularism based on Sophocles’ Antigone. The central role of principles in moral judgment and in educational theory is supported by explicating ‘mature judgment’, which highlights key features of Thomas Green’s account of norm acquisition and of Kant’s account of the (...) autonomy of rational judgment. (shrink)
Henry Allison [1983; cf. 1990, 1996] criticizes and rejects naturalism because the idea of freedom is constitutive of rational spontaneity, which alone enables and entitles us to judge or to act rationally, and only transcendental idealism can justify our acting under the idea of freedom. Allison’s critique of naturalism is unclear because his reasons for claiming that free rational spontaneity requires transcendental idealism are inadequate and because his characterization of Kant’s idealism is ambiguous. Recognizing this reinforces the importance of the (...) question of whether only transcendental idealism “can ground the right to the conceptual space” that we occupy when thinking spontaneously or acting under the idea of freedom. Only with a clear answer to this question can Kant’s idea of freedom provide a basis for assessing today’s naturalist orthodoxy. (shrink)
In the Critique of Pure Reason Kant introduced both transcendental idealism and transcendental arguments into philosophy. Transcendental arguments in general aim to establish conditions necessary for our having self-conscious experience at all. Transcendental idealism holds that such conditions do not hold independently of human subjects; those conditions obtain or are satisfied because they are generated or fulfilled by the structure or functioning of the subject’s cognitive capacities. Is transcendental idealism the only possible explanation of such conditions? I pursue this question (...) by exploring a widely neglected issue, the transcendental affinity of the manifold of intuition. I argue the following: (1) This issue remains vital to the second edition of the Critique, even though many passages on the topic were omitted from that edition. (2) Kant’s link between transcendental idealism and transcendental arguments is substantive, not methodological. (3) Kant’s views on transcendental affinity show that there are non-subjective, transcendental material conditions for the possibility of unified self-conscious experience. (4) These conditions and Kant’s arguments for them directly undermine Kant’s own arguments for transcendental idealism. This criticism of Kant’s arguments for transcendental idealism is entirely internal to the first Critique. (5) These points reveal some serious flaws in Henry Allison’s defense of Kant’s idealism. (6) Realists, naturalists, and pragmatists have much to learn and to borrow from Kant’s transcendental analysis of the conditions of unified self-conscious experience. (shrink)
This chapter argues that Hegel is a major (albeit unrecognized) epistemologist: Hegel’s Introduction provides the key to his phenomenological method by showing that the Pyrrhonian Dilemma of the Criterion refutes traditional coherentist and foundationalist theories of justification. Hegel then solves this Dilemma by analyzing the possibility of constructive self- and mutual criticism. ‘Sense Certainty’ provides a sound internal critique of ‘knowledge by acquaintance’, thus undermining a key tenet of Concept Empiricism, a view Hegel further undermines by showing that a series (...) of non-logical a priori concepts must be used to identify any particular object of experience. Most importantly, Hegel justifies a semantics of singular cognitive reference with important anti-skeptical implications. ‘Perception’ extends Hegel’s criticism Concept Empiricism by exposing the inadequacy of Modern theories of perception (and also sense data theories) which lack a tenable concept of the identity of perceptible things. Hegel demonstrates that this concept is a priori and integrates two counterposed sub-concepts, ‘unity’ and ‘plurality’. Hegel’s examination of this concept reveals his clear awareness of what is now called the ‘binding problem’ in neurophysiology of perception, a problem only very recently noticed by epistemologists. ‘Force and Understanding’ exposes a fatal equivocation in the traditional concept of substance which thwarts our understanding of force and causal interaction. Hegel’s disambiguation of that concept enables us to comprehend how relations can be essential to physical particulars. Hegel contends that Newtonian universal gravitation shows that gravitational relations are essential to physical particulars, and he criticizes a series of attempts—including the infamous ‘inverted world’—to avoid this conclusion. Hegel’s cognitive semantics supports Newton’s Fourth Rule of philosophizing, which rejects mere logical possibilities as counter-examples to empirical hypotheses. This is an important anti-Cartesian, also anti-empiricist, insight. Finally, Hegel’s cognitive semantics reveals a previously unnoticed link between Pyrrhonian and Cartesian skepticism and empiricist anti-realism about causality within philosophy of science: all three appeal to premises, hypotheses, or counter-examples which, as mere logical possibilities, lack in principle fully determinate, cognitively legitimate meaning. ‘Consciousness’ thus establishes basic principles and features of human cognition to which Hegel returns throughout the Phenomenology. The chapter concludes by summarizing Hegel’s over-arching epistemological analysis in the Phenomenology. (shrink)
Hegel’s idealism and his epistemology have been seriously misunderstood due to various deep-set preconceptions of Hegel’s expositors. Thesepreconceptions include: Idealism is inherently subjective; Hegel’s epistemology invokes intellectual intuition; Hegel was not much concerned with natural science; Natural science has no basic role to play in Hegel’s Logic. In criticizing these notions, I highlight four key features of Hegel’s account of intelligence: Human cognition is active, and forges genuine cognitive links to objects that exist and have intrinsic characteristics, regardless of what (...) we may think, believe, or say about them; The Denkbestimmungen that structure and thus characterize worldly objects and events can only be grasped by intelligence ; Intelligence obtains genuine objectivity by correctly identifying characteristics of a known object; Central to our intelligent comprehension of Denkbestimmungen is natural scientific investigation. These findings show that Hegel’s Logic is much more closely tied with Naturphilosophie and with natural science than is commonly supposed. I conclude with eight hermeneutical pointers for understanding Hegel’s writings. (shrink)
In theScience of LogicandPhilosophical Encyclopaedia, Hegel reconstructs Kant’s Critical philosophy by developing: a transcendental logic in theScience of LogicandPhilosophy of Nature, a pragmatic account of the a priori, and a crucial use of the verb “realisieren” in connection with concepts and principles. These three points are central to Hegel’s specifically cognitive semantics, which Hegel developed from Kant’s Thesis of Singular Cognitive Reference into a systematic, pragmatic realism. Hegel’s re-analysis of Kant’s Critical philosophy is thus the first and still one of (...) the most adequate forms of pragmatic realism.Dans laScience de la logiqueet dans l’Encyclopédie des sciences philosophiques,Hegel reconstruit la philosophie critique de Kant en développant i) une logique transcendantale dans laScience de la logiqueet dans laPhilosophie de la nature; ii) une conception pragmatique de l’a priori; et iii) une caractéristique-clé de l’usage du verbe «réaliser» en relation avec les concepts et les principes. Chacun de ces trois éléments constitue un aspect central de la sémantique spécifiquement cognitive de Hegel, que celui-ci développe, en partant de la thèse kantienne de la référence cognitive singulière, en un réalisme pragmatique systématique. (shrink)
: This paper explicates and defends the thesis that individual rational judgment, of the kind required for justification, whether in cognition or in morals, is fundamentally socially and historically conditioned. This puts paid to the traditional distinction, still influential today, between ‘rational’ and ‘historical’ knowledge. The present analysis highlights and defends key themes from Kant’s and Hegel’s accounts of rational judgment and justification, including four fundamental features of the ‘autonomy’ of rational judgment and one key point of Hegel’s account of (...) ‘mutual recognition’. These themes are linked to Kant’s and Hegel’s transformation of the modern natural law tradition. The results explain why Kant’s and Hegel’s philosophy are indeed the origins of the properly pragmatic account of rationality, why the pragmatic account of rationality provides genuine rational justification and why this pragmatic account of rational justification is consistent with realism about the objects of empirical knowledge and with strict objectivity about moral norms. > Russian translation : Nelly Motroshilova, ed., К 200-летию выхода в свет «Феноменологии духа» Гегеля, 195–219. > Turkish translation : ‘Hegel’in Tinin Görüngübilimi’nde Karşihkh Onanma ve Ussal Gerekçelendirme’. MonoKL 4–5 :212–231. (shrink)
Kant’s ‘Refutation of Idealism’ plainly has an anti-Cartesian conclusion: ‘inner experience in general is only possible through outer experience in general’ (B278). Due to wide-spread preoccupation with Cartesian skepticism, and to the anti-naturalism of early analytic philosophy, most of Kant’s recent commentators have sought to find a purely conceptual, ‘analytic’ argument in Kant’s Refutation of Idealism – and then have dismissed Kant when no such plausible argument can be reconstructed from his text. Kant’s argument supposedly cannot eliminate all relevant alternatives, (...) and so cannot justify its strong modal claims. Kant based his arguments on an inventory of our basic cognitive capacities to employ our forms of intuition and our forms of judgment. Kant provides a variety of considerations and arguments to determine what our cognitive capacities are. This involves ‘transcendental reflection’, which Kant held is absolutely crucial for judging matters a priori (A263/B319). I argue that there is a level of philosophical reflection on our own cognitive capabilities and their preconditions that is significantly richer than has been noticed by recent commentators, and that is a precondition of Kant’s transcendental reflection proper. I explicate certain thought experiments Kant proposes in order for us to recognize some our basic, characteristic cognitive capabilities, and the limits and requirements they entail for the nature and objects of human knowledge. These thought experiments involve a kind of reflection on who we as cognizant subjects are, on what our basic cognitive capabilities are. Engaging in this kind of reflection reveals that Kant’s transcendental arguments are significantly stronger and more persuasive than has been recognized in recent commentary. (shrink)
This chapter considers the centrality of principles in Kant’s moral philosophy, their distinctively ‘Kantian’ character, why Kant presents a ‘metaphysical’ system of moral principles and how these ‘formal’ principles are to be used in practice. These points are central to how Kant thinks pure reason can be practical. These features have often puzzled Anglophone readers, in part due to focusing on Kant’s Groundwork, to the neglect of his later works in moral philosophy, in which the theoretical preliminaries of that first (...) essay are properly articulated. In part, however, these puzzles stem, directly or indirectly, from Kant’s opposition to moral empiricism, which is bound to puzzle Anglophone readers, whose default orientation is empiricist. Accordingly, particular attention is paid to Kant’s reasons for rejecting moral empiricism and for developing an alternative to it, to Kant’s account of how his universalization tests serve as criteria of morally obligatory, permissible or prohibited actions and to his account of what is morally wrong with actions which violate those criteria. Examining these points provides a compelling synopsis of Kant’s system of moral principles, centring on the key terms ‘practical reason’, ‘law’, ‘maxim’ and ‘Categorical Imperative’. (shrink)
I argue that Henry Harris’s magnificent commentary, Hegel’s Ladder, so focuses on the cultural significance of Hegel’s Phenomenology that it neglects Hegel’s concerns with philosophical issues in the history of philosophy. In particular, it neglects issues central to Hegel’s phenomenological method about the assessment and internal criticism of alternative philosophical views, which are central to Hegel’s method for justifying his own view by ‘determinate negation’ of those alternatives. This neglect is manifest in three important regards: (1) Harris disregards a plethora (...) of specific references Hegel makes to Pyrrhonian skepticism by paraphrasing from, or making clear thematic allusions to, Sextus Empiricus’s Outlines of Pyrrhonism; (2) Harris’s solution to the problem of assessing our standards of knowledge is literally superficial; (3) Harris fails to address or resolve some ambiguities between what we recollect and what we imagine that are crucial for Hegel’s aim to provide a science of the experience of consciousness, and not simply another Gnostic fantasy. (shrink)
This paper (in English) highlights a hitherto neglected feature of Hegel’s 1807 Phenomenology of Spirit: its critique of the content of our basic categorial concepts. It focusses on Hegel’s semantics of cognitive reference in ‘Sense Certainty’ and his use of this semantics also in ‘Perception’ and ‘Force and Understanding’. Explicating these points enables us to understand how Hegel criticizes Pyrrhonian Scepticism on internal grounds.
Henry Harris noted that ‘the Baconian applied science of this world is the solid foundation upon which Hegel’s ladder of spiritual experience rests’. Understanding the philosophical character of Hegel’s Philosophy of Nature requires recognizing some basic legitimate philosophical issues embedded in the development of physics from Galileo to Newton (§2). These issues illuminate the character of Hegel’s analysis of philosophical issues regarding nature (§3) and the central aims and purposes of Hegel’s philosophy of nature (§4). Hegel recognized some key weaknesses (...) in Newton’s own mathematical treatment of planetary orbits which were only rectified when Johann Bernoulli recast Newtonian gravitational theory on the basis of mathematical analysis (calculus). So reconstructed, Newtonian physics provides sufficient grounds to ascribe gravitational force to matter (Enz. §§262, 269). Hegel incorporated this important point into his illuminating accounts of causal laws of nature and natural-scientific explanation. These points reveal how Hegel’s Science of Logic and Philosophy of Nature are interdependent works, integrated in part by Hegel’s critical, moderately holistic theory of semantic meaning and reference. Highlighting these features of Hegel’s Philosophy of Nature illuminates Hegel’s emergentist account of structural and functional organization of various kinds of natural phenomena. (shrink)
The young Hegel was entranced by the notion of intellectual intuition, and this notion continues to entrance many of Hegel’ commentators. I argue that Kant provided three distinct conceptions of an intuitive intellect, that none of these involve aconceptual intuitionism, and that they differ markedly from Fichte’s and Schelling’s conceptions of intellectual intuition. I further argue that by 1804 Hegel recognized that appealing to an aconceptual model, or to Schelling’s model, or to his own early model of intellectual intuition generates (...) inevitable and insoluble problems of question-begging. By incorporating several important points from Kant’s Transcendental Ideal into his reinterpretation of Kant’s Transcendental Deduction and Refutation of Idealism, Hegel’s mature discursive and conceptual account of ‘absolute knowing’ performs some of the functions Kant assigned to the intuitive intellect, though without invoking any such intuitive intellect. I discuss several of these functions. (shrink)
The idea that noumena or things in themselves causally affect our sensibility, and thus provide us with sensations, has been rejected on two basic grounds: It is unintelligible because distinguishes between appearance and reality in such a way that things cannot in principle appear as they really are, and it requires applying the concept of causality trans-phenomenally, contra Kant’s Schematism. I argue that noumenal causality is intelligible and is required out of fidelity to Kant’s texts and doctrines. Kant’s theory of (...) meaning and his transcendental reflection on sensibility show how Kant legitimately can speak about, and determine that, our passive sensibility must be causally affected by noumena. Kant’s analysis of agency shows that Kant’s practical philosophy requires noumenal causality, both from a first- and from a third-person perspective. These points ground my criticisms of Buchdahl and Allison’s view of affection, and Strawson and Sandberg’s view of meaning. (shrink)
Though philosophical antipodes, Hegel and Russell were profound philosophical revolutionaries. They both subjected contemporaneous philosophy to searching critique, and they addressed many important issues about the character of philosophy itself. Examining their disagreements is enormously fruitful. Here I focus on one central issue raised in Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit: the tenability of the foundationalist model of rational justification. I consider both the general question of the tenability of the foundationalist model itself, and the specific question of the tenability of Russell’s (...) preferred foundations of empirical knowledge, namely sense data. The stage is set by briefly considering Russell’s philosophical revolt (§2). I examine Russell’s neglect of the Pyrrhonian Dilemma of the Criterion (§3), and then consider Russell’s appeal to “knowledge by acquaintance”—the very view Hegel criticized under the banner of “Sense Certainty” (§4). I argue that Hegel’s internal critique of “Sense Certainty” refutes Russell’s “knowledge by acquaintance” and undermines Russell’s ahistorical approach to philosophy. (This article supercedes ‘“Sense Certainty”, or Why Russell had no “Knowledge by Acquaintance”’. The Bulletin of the Hegel Society of Great Britain 45/46 (2002):110–23.). (shrink)
Rousseau's Du contrat social develops an important, unjustly neglected type of theory, which I call 'Natural Law Constructivism' ('NLC'), which identifies and justifies strictly objective basic moral principles, with no appeal to moral realism or its alternatives, nor to elective agreement, nor to prudentialist reasoning. The Euthyphro Question marks a dilemma in moral theory which highlights relations between artifice and arbitrariness. These relations highlight the significance of Hume's founding insight into NLC, and how NLC addresses Hobbes's insight that our most (...) fundamental moral problems concern social coordination. Part 2 systematically re-examines the core of Rousseau's theory of justice to show that it assigns no constitutive role to contractual agreement in identifying or justifying basic normative principles. Part 3 highlights his NLC. (shrink)
According to Kant’s Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science, a proper science is organized according to rational principles and has a pure a priori rational part, its metaphysical foundation. In the second edition Preface to the first Critique, Kant claims that his account of time explains the a priori possibility of Newton’s laws of motion. I argue that Kant’s proof of the law of inertia fails, and that this casts doubt on Kant’s enterprise of providing a priori foundations for Newton’s physics.
Few if any of Kant’s critics were more trenchant than Hegel. Here I reconstruct some objections Hegel makes to Kant in a text that has received insufficient attention, the chapter titled ‘the Moral World View’ in the Phenomenology of Spirit. I show that Kant holds virtually all the tenets Hegel ascribes to ‘the moral world view’. I concentrate on five of Hegel’s main objections to Kant’s practical metaphysics. First, Kant’s problem of coordinating happiness with virtue (as worthiness to be happy) (...) is contrived. Kant denies that there is any inherent connection between acting rightly and being happy, but his denial depends on his defining happiness in terms of satisfying inclinations, rather than in terms of achieving ends in general. Second, Kant’s view of moral motivation is contrived; he ultimately admits that we cannot resolve to act without taking inclinations into account. (We cannot resolve to act apart from the matter of our maxim.) Third, Kant’s idea about perfecting our virtue in an infinite progress is incoherent. Kant defines virtue, and evidence of virtue, in terms of overcoming inclinations. Inclinations die with the body. Therefore there can be neither virtue nor evidence of virtue after death. Fourth, Kant’s view of the autonomy of moral agency is inconsistent with viewing the moral law as a divine command. Fifth, Kant’s moral principles cannot be put into practice in concrete circumstances because he supplies inadequate guidance for classifying acts. I conclude that Hegel’s objections to Kant’s practical metaphysics are sound, and I show that the problems Hegel raised against Kant’s account of autonomy and moral motivation are still current, since they have not been resolved, e.g., by Onora O’Neill’s Constructions of Reason. (shrink)
This paper explicates and argues for the thesis that individual rational judgment, of the kind required for rational justification in non-formal, substantive domains – i.e. in empirical knowledge or in morals (both ethics and justice) – is in fundamental part socially and historically based, although these social and historical aspects of rational justification are consistent with realism about the objects of empirical knowledge and with strict objectivity about basic moral principles. The central thesis is that, to judge fully rationally that (...) one judges – in ways which provide rational justification of one’s judgment about any substantive matter – requires recognising one’s inherent fallibility and consequently also recognising our mutual interdependence for assessing our own and each others’ judgments and their justification. This explication provides a pragmatic account of rational justification in substantive domains which puts paid to the traditional distinction, still influential today, between ‘rational’ and ‘historical’ knowledge. (Note: This paper is a counterpart to Westphal 2011b; each paper contains substantial material not included in the other.). (shrink)
Replying to my four commentators allows me to clarify some distinctive features and merits of Hegel’s natural law constructivism; how Hegel’s insights have been obscured by common, though inadequate philosophical taxonomies; and how Hegel’s natural law constructivism contributes centrally to moral philosophy today, including ethics, justice, philosophy of law and philosophy of education.
In 1801 Hegel charged that, on Kant’s analysis, forces are ‘either purely ideal, in which case they are not forces, or else they are transcendent’. I argue that this objection, which Hegel did not spell out, reveals an important and fundamental line of internal criticism of Kant’s Critical philosophy. I show that Kant’s basic forces of attraction and repulsion, which constitute matter, are merely ideal because Kant’s arguments for them are circular and beg the question, and they have no determinate (...) connection to any of the basic forces of Newtonian physics. Hence they are mere Gedankendinge. I argue further, that real physical forces transcend Kant’s analysis by showing that his proof of Newton’s law of inertia is unsound. I then show that this apparently specific disagreement underlies the enormous philosophical shift from Kant’s anti-naturalist transcendental idealism to Hegel’s naturalistic use of regressive, quasi-transcendental arguments. (shrink)
Kant’s justification of possession appears to beg the question (petitio principii) by assuming rather than proving the legitimacy of possession. The apparent question-begging in Kant’s argument has been recapitulated or exacerbated but not resolved in the secondary literature. A detailed terminological, textual, and logical analysis of Kant’s argument reveals that he provides a sound justification of limited rights to possess and use things (qualified choses in possession), not of private property rights. Kant’s argument is not purely a priori; it is (...) in Kant’s Critical sense ‘metaphysical’ because it applies the pure a priori ‘Universal Principles of Right’ to the concept of finite rational human agency. The application of this principle implicitly involves a ‘Contradiction in Conception’ test. I explicate this test in detail and show, inter alia, how Kant’s argument relates to the modern natural law tradition. I further argue that Kant’s ‘Universal Principle of Right’ is justified by appeal to a fundamental principle of justification, the Principle of Mutual Acceptability. This justification also suggests that the debate between Kantians and Utilitarians about whether human ‘dignity’ is an incommensurable value is moot because Kant’s test of the Categorical Imperative need not appeal to ‘dignity’. Finally, I show that the limited rights to possession and use justified by Kant’s argument suffice for his social contract argument for the legitimacy of the state. (shrink)