Introduction -- Part I: Willing as practical knowing -- The will and practical judgment -- Fundamental practical judgments : the wish for happiness -- Part II: From presuppositions of judgment to the idea of a categorical imperative -- The formal presuppositions of practical judgment -- Constraints on willing -- Part III: Interpretation -- The categorical imperative -- Applications -- Conclusion.
Kant holds that the human cognitive power is divided into two "stems", understanding and sensibility. This doctrine has seemed objectionably dualistic to many critics, who see these stems as distinct parts, each able on its own to produce representations, which must somehow interact, determining or constraining one another, in order to secure the fit, requisite for cognition, between concept and intuition. This reading cannot be squared, however, with what Kant actually says about theoretical cognition and the way understanding and sensibility (...) cooperate in it. Such cognition, as Kant conceives of it, satisfies two conditions: it has unity, and it depends on the existence of its object. The first of these conditions entails that the cognitive power must lie in spontaneity, or understanding, while the second implies that this spontaneity depends on receptivity, or sensibility, to be the cognitive power that it is. Consideration of how these capacities must be conceived as cooperating in cognition reveals them to be related, not as interacting parts, but as form and matter. Such a conception of their relation may at first glance seem to be merely another version of dualistic thinking; in fact, however, a proper appreciation of it eliminates the appearance of dualism and helps allay an associated concern that Kant's distinction would taint our cognition with an unacceptable subjectivism. (shrink)
This essay chiefly concerns the unity of self-consciousness expounded under the heading "the original synthetic unity of apperception" in Kant's transcendental deduction. It focuses mainly on Kant's identification of this unity with the understanding, the faculty of knowledge, with the aim of throwing light on the understanding and on knowledge as well as on synthetic unity.
Kant claims that the concept of the highest good, the idea of happiness in proportion to virtue, is grounded in the moral law. But this claim has often been challenged. How can Kant justify including happiness in the highest good? Why should only the virtuous be worthy of happiness? This paper argues that when the moral law is interpreted as the criterion for valid application of the concept of the good, the concept of the highest good does indeed follow from (...) the moral law. It also argues that the duty to promote the highest good harmonizes with other duties. (shrink)
The common assumption that the Transcendental Deduction aims to refute scepticism often leads interpreters to conclude that it fails and even that Kant is confused about what it is supposed to achieve. By examining what Kant himself says concerning the Deductions' relation to scepticism, this article seeks to determine what sort of scepticism he has in view and how he responds to it. It concludes that the Deduction aims neither to refute Cartesian, outer- world scepticism nor to refute Humean, empiricist (...) scepticism, and it outlines an alternative conception of the Deduction's task, as one of reconciling apparently conflicting claims of reason. (shrink)
In his very rich and insightful book, Kant's Theory of Freedom, Henry Allison argues that in the first Critique Kant's reason for rejecting Humean compatibilism in favor of an incompatibilist conception of practical freedom stems, not from a specific concern to ground morality, as many have supposed, but from his general conception of rational agency, which Allison explicates in terms of the idea of practical spontaneity. Practically spontaneous rational agency is subject to imperatives and therefore distinct from Humean agency. But (...) it is not necessarily subject to the categorical imperative and hence is distinct from fully spontaneous (transcendentally free) moral agency. A conception thus emerges of an agent with limited spontaneity, subject to hypothetical but not categorical imperatives. A doubt may be raised, however, as to whether Kant's view can accommodate this conception of limited practical spontaneity. Reflection on Kant's notion of a hypothetical imperative suggests that the idea of limited spontaneity is in danger of either collapsing into the Humean picture or else turning out to be equivalent to the conception of full spontaneity appropriate to moral agency. There is thus reason to suppose that, for Kant, we would not be bound by imperatives at all if we were not bound by the categorical imperative. (shrink)
In her recent book, Barbara Herman explores a range of topics commonly associated with virtue ethics; her focus, however, is not so much on virtue as on normal moral competence and the basic moral capacity underpinning it. To explicate this competence, Herman introduces the idea of moral literacy, arguing that it reveals Kantian ethical thought to be better able than Humean views to account for our readiness to hold persons responsible even for conduct reflecting character flaws that stem from deficiencies (...) in their upbringing. Examination of Herman's account raises a question, however, about how intimately moral literacy is related to the basic moral capacity. (shrink)
This major collection of essays offers the first serious challenge to the traditional view that ancient and modern ethics are fundamentally opposed. In doing so, it has important implications for contemporary ethical thought, as well as providing a significant re-assessment of the work of Aristotle, Kant and the Stoics. The contributors include internationally recognised interpreters of ancient and modern ethics. Four pairs of essays compare and contrast Aristotle and Kant on deliberation and moral development, eudaimonism, self-love and self-worth, and practical (...) reason and moral psychology. The final pair of essays introduces the Stoics as an example of how the apparently antithetical views of Aristotle and the Stoics might be reconciled. (shrink)