While global poverty is the key moral problem of our times, social scientists are far from reaching a consensus on the causes of this disaster and philosophers disagree on the related responsibilities. One important contribution toward an enlarged understanding is offered by Thomas Pogge in World Poverty and Human Rights. The present paper discusses critically Pogge's contribution and attempts to distinguish the valuable intuitions from the unwarranted conclusions that could be derived from them and that Pogge himself suggests at times. (...) Foremost among these is the thesis that minor changes of the present global order would suffice to remove most world poverty. While it is sceptical about this strong conclusion, the paper confirms, unlike preceding discussions of World Poverty and Human Rights, the book's basic philosophical conclusion, namely, that affluent individuals and governments hold negative obligations toward the global poor. (shrink)
Kant devotes to the problem of Cartesian skepticism a constant attention throughout his philosophical career. His first attempt to refute the skeptic goes back to the 1755 Nova Delucidatio, while other arguments, both in the pre-critical and in the critical period, follow one another in a rather erratic effort to remove the “scandal” of philosophy, that is, our inability to prove the existence of the external world beyond doubt. This on-going struggle against the skeptic does not end with the 1787 (...) Second Edition of the Critique of Pure Reason wherein Kant presents his famous Refutation of Idealism. In a series of Reflexionen dating from the late 1780s to the early 1790 and named by Adickes “Reflexionen zum Idealismus,” Kant comes back to the problem that had captured his attention since 1755. (shrink)
In both Introductions to the Critique of Judgment Kant seems to identify the a priori principle at the basis of aesthetic judgments with the principle that guides reflective judgment in its cognitive inquiry of nature, i.e. the purposiveness of nature or systematicity. For instance Kant writes.
There is little need to argue for the importance of human rights in our world. If one looks at the role they play today, it is hard to deny that their impact has increased beyond anything the drafters of the 1948 Universal Declaration could have hoped or imagined. However, even though human rights today have a far greater impact on politics than in the past, the philosophical reflection that surrounds them has had a less fortunate history. It is doubtful whether (...) we are today in a better position than we were in 1948 to answer any of the philosophical questions surrounding them, including, and perhaps most crucially, the question about their foundation. Why are human rights standards—of whatever sort—that we should adopt, or even just take seriously? The first two parts of this paper summarize my recent work on the above question and the third takes it a step further. I will 1) show why the main orientations in the contemporary philosophy of human rights all fail to yield a satisfactory foundation, 2) sketch an alternative foundation that exploits Kant’s account of human dignity in a rather critical way; and 3) address one major objection my approach is bound to attract. Since my foundation suggests that we have dignity because we are autonomous, that is, capable of moral behavior, some scholars have argued that I am bound to the counterintuitive conclusion that people with a temporary or permanent lack of rational capacity, which would cause a condition of “impaired autonomy,” are not entitled to the protection of human rights. While this objection does nothing but reformulate in the language of human rights an old, classical objection to Kant’s ethics, replying to it requires mobilizing new intellectual resources. (shrink)
The paper centers on some problematic theses of my book Kant’s Political Legacy. Human Rights, Peace, Progress. This reconsideration is occasioned partly by comments I received and partly by my own process of self-criticism. I focus on the point that commentators have mainly criticized, that is, the link I suggest between human dignity and our capacity for moral behavior, or autonomy. The first part recalls the basic features of my Kant-inspired and yet in many regards anti-Kantian account of the relation (...) between dignity and autonomy and replies to some criticisms received from orthodox Kantians. The second part is strictly connected to the first because it deals with the reasons we have to believe that we are autonomous. While in the book I sketched Kant’s own reasons for the ‘reality of freedom,’ as he puts it, I focus now onBojan Kovačević’s suggestion to look at characters in novels written by artistic geniuses to find indirect evidence in favor of autonomy. This allows me to reflect on the kind of evidence onecan legitimately expect in the proof at issue. Thirdly, I reply to a classical objection, ignored in the book, that impacts with equal force Kant’s ethics and my own position. The problem concerns people with temporary orpermanent impairment of rational capacities. If I let human dignity depend on our capacity for autonomous behavior, am I committed to the counterintuitive conclusion that children or people suffering from momentary or irreversible loss of rational capacity, and a fortiori of autonomy, do not have dignity and therefore do not deserve to be protected by human rights? (shrink)
Kant’s theory of peace has been reinterpreted under one of the most influential research programs of our times: The so-called democratic peace theory. In particular, the third ingredient of Kant’s “recipe” for peace —the cosmopolitan right to visit—has been recognized as a powerful and effective instrument to reduce militarized interstate conflicts. In the hands of political scientists, however, this ingredient has often become nothing more than a set of rules for securing and facilitating international trade and economic interdependence. This article (...) argues that this narrow reading mistakes international trade as the essence of the third definitive article. Kant sees economic interdependence as a means to realize what cosmopolitan right is truly about, that is, the affirmation of a set of rules for protecting humans qua humans, the creation of communal bonds among individuals beyond national or group loyalties, and the promotion of a global moral conscience modeled on the natural rights of man. An accura... (shrink)
This book contains a reconstruction of Kant’s philosophy of mathematics and an attempt to defend it from old and new critiques. Iseli notes that contemporary philosophers and mathematicians generally agree with Kant that mathematical propositions are a priori, but they reject the idea that such propositions are synthetic.
The dissertation analyzes Kant's arguments against Cartesian skepticism from the precritical period up to the "Reflexionen zum Idealismus" . It is argued that in the silent decade , the skeptical challenge leads Kant to reinterpret the foundation of his philosophy, namely, the distinction between appearances and things in themselves. Realizing the impossibility of refuting the skeptic through the identification of appearances with mental entities and the affirmation of the mind-independent existence of things in themselves as causes of the appearances , (...) Kant is forced to modify radically his notion of appearances in such a way as to make a new anti-skeptical argument possible. Thus, he no longer interprets appearances as mental entities, but as genuine, mind-independent objects. In this way, the skeptical challenge leads Kant to his mature notion of empirical realism, as presented in the 1781 Fourth Paralogism. ;The dissertation also shows that the mainstream evaluation of the arguments from the critical period needs to be revised. Some interpreters consider Kant's overall attempt to refute the skeptic ultimately unsatisfactory. Others are convinced that Kant manages to refute the skeptic only with the Second Edition argument, the Refutation of Idealism. The Fourth Paralogism---the argument that Kant presents in 1781, but drops in the Second Edition---is usually dismissed because of its alleged commitment to phenomenalism that makes it unable to serve as the foundation of the existence of a mind-independent world. In contrast with both groups, it is argued that Kant does have a powerful argument against the skeptic, which, however, is not to be found in the Refutation of Idealism or in its refinements in the "Reflexionen," but in a line of thought contained in the Fourth Paralogism, properly interpreted in a non-phenomenalistic way. The Refutation of Idealism, despite its intuitive appeal, ultimately fails and can be salvaged only if anti-skeptical resources are borrowed from the Fourth Paralogism. (shrink)