Throughout his writings, and particularly in Religion within the Boundaries of Mere Reason, Kant alludes to the idea that evil is connected to self-deceit, and while numerous commentators regard this as a highly attractive thesis, none have seriously explored it. Kant on Evil, Self-Deception, and Moral Reform addresses this crucial element of Kant's ethical theory. -/- Working with both Kant's core texts on ethics and materials less often cited within scholarship on Kant's practical philosophy (such as Kant's logic lectures), Papish (...) explores the cognitive dimensions of Kant's accounts of evil and moral reform while engaging the most influential -- and often scathing -- of Kant's critics. Her book asks what self-deception is for Kant, why and how it is connected to evil, and how we achieve the self-knowledge that should take the place of self-deceit. (shrink)
For the past decade and a half, Aristotelians have tried to counter the following criticism articulated by John Doris: if we look at personality and social psychology research, we must conclude that we generally neither have, nor have the capacity to develop, character traits of the kind envisioned by Aristotle and his followers. Some defenses of Aristotelian virtue ethics proceed by trying to insulate it from this challenge, while others have tried to dissipate the force of Doris's critique by showing (...) how virtue ethics and recent findings in personality psychology share surprisingly extensive common ground. For example, in their 2009 books, Daniel Russell and Nancy Snow both argue that the empirical research regarding character complements - not undermines - virtue ethics. Specifically, each argues that the situationally sensitive Cognitive-Affective Personality System developed by Walter Mischel and Yuichi Shoda can be integrated into a virtue ethical moral philosophy and theory of character. In this paper, I raise several objections to their attempts to use the CAPS model to rehabilitate Aristotelian virtue ethics and argue that, as a result, this model has not been shown to have the promise Snow and Russell allege it has. (shrink)
In his later moral writings Kant claims that we have a duty to cultivate certain aspects of our sensuous nature. This claim is surprising for three reasons. First, given Kant’s ‘incorporation thesis’ − which states that the only sensible states capable of determining our actions are those that we willingly introduce and integrate into our maxims − it would seem that the content of our inclinations is morally irrelevant. Second, the exclusivity between the passivity that is characteristic of sensibility and (...) the spontaneous quality of our free will that operates throughout Kant’s philosophy seems to preclude that any such cultivation is possible. Third, Kant’s specific arguments concerning why we are obliged to cultivate our sensible nature are unclear. The goal of this paper is to address each of these three concerns and thus fully explain Kant’s theory of the moral necessity of cultivation. (shrink)
Two generalizations can be made regarding Kant’s account of imperatives of skill and prudence. First, Groundwork 4:412-420 remains the locus classicus for reconstructions of Kant’s view. Second, it is widely agreed that Kant’s treatment of these imperatives is confusing, incomplete, and lacking the requisite argumentation. I agree that Groundwork 4:412-420 lacks a clear and defensible account of imperatives of skill and prudence. But while many think this spells trouble for Kant’s theory of non-moral practical imperatives more generally, and that Kant (...) never really clarified his position, on this point I differ. Groundwork II is problematic, yet it’s not Kant’s final word on the non-moral imperatives of practical reason. In fact, there is substantial and broadly overlooked evidence that Kant later rejected much of the account he laid out in this text. This evidence is found primarily in the third Critique, and I explore this evidence and the virtues of Kant’s revised account. (shrink)
The goal of the following paper is to consider the development and viability of Korsgaard’s latest work, Self-Constitution. More specifically, I show that we should understand this book as a response to difficulties with both Korsgaard’s argument in 1996’s The Sources of Normativity and Korsgaard’s earlier attempts to explain what marks the difference between realist and constructivist approaches to ethical theory. I begin by focusing primarily on her essay “Realism and Constructivism in Twentieth-Century Moral Philosophy.” Here I consider exactly how (...) Korsgaard defines constructivism and what makes constructivism different from realist approaches to ethics. I then examine Korsgaard’s two most influential books – Sources and Self-Constitution – in light of this definition. Looking at Sources I argue that there is a serious problem with Korsgaard’s attempt to develop a constructivist moral theory; more specifically, I expose a tension in Korsgaard’s claim that ethical concepts both are rooted in a philosophy of action and exist only as the solution to a concrete practical problem. I then turn to Self-Constitution. I show that a different account of the distinction between realism and constructivism is proposed, one that not only seems designed to avoid the problems that plagued Sources but also forces Korsgaard to significantly revise and retreat from earlier attempt to distinguish constructivism from realism. Finally, I argue that obstacles remain for even this more moderate account. -/- . (shrink)
There are several senses in which Kant’s moral law is independent of sensibility. This paper is devoted mainly to Kant’s account of ‘physical conditions independence’, or the idea that the moral law can compel us to pursue ends that might be impossible to realize empirically. Since this idea has gotten little attention from commentators, this paper addresses both its textual basis in Kant’s writings and its overall philosophical viability.
In his account of human perception in De Anima, Aristotle focuses on characterizing special perception and its objects. This focus, however, comes at a price, as Aristotle neglects to explain why incidental and common objects should also be called objects of perception. My goal is to reconstruct on Aristotle’s behalf a plausible account of why the commons can rightly be called objects of perception.
Kant’s account of moral feeling is continually disputed in the secondary literature. My goal is to focus on the Religion and make sense of moral feeling as it appears in this context. I argue that we can best understand moral feeling if we note its place in Kant’s concerns about the possibility of moral conversion. As Kant notes, if the new, morally upright man is of a different character than the man he used to be, then it remains unclear how (...) the new man can properly bear the debts of his old self. To address this issue, we need the presupposition that a person is both continually conscious of her empirical, bodily identity and capable of experiencing a felt recognition of the moral law; without this presupposition, I argue that fair punishment and the just payment of evil debts is impossible. (shrink)