Abstracts

Keynote Speakers

Angela Breitenbach (University of Cambridge)

Disunity and Teleological Unity     

TBC

 

Katerina Deligiorgi (University of Sussex)

Why be moral?

The aim of the paper is to examine the question ‘Why be moral?’ and to consider what might be a plausible answer to the question.

My argument is Kantian, by which I mean that I will be using Kantian resources to make it, occasionally sticking very closely to Kant’s text, but my aim is not to offer an interpretation of Kant.[1] Rather it is much more modest, namely to see how reading Kant can help us get clear about what we are doing when we consider the question ‘why be moral?’

There are two sorts of issues raised straightaway by this question: first whether it is real or a pseudo-question? And secondly and relatedly, what is it exactly that the question asks?

I will argue that ‘why be moral?’ is a real question. Although it looks simple it is best seen as encapsulating a number of different moral concerns that are familiar features of our moral experience and perfectly reasonable things to enquire about. I try to show how Kantian answers show allow us both to make headway with these concerns and to understand how they interlock. Further, I want to recommend the Kantian answers I sketch here because they illuminate a question that is central to this conference about the nature of freedom.

 

Invited Speakers

Clive Cazeaux (Cardiff Metropolitan University)

The aesthetics of temporality in Heidegger’s Kant

Heidegger’s Kant book, Kant and the Problem of Metaphysics, from 1929, sees Heidegger explore the relationship between Kant’s schematism and time. The study is a development of the fundamental ontology that Heidegger presents in Being and Time in 1927. As is well-known in Kantian scholarship, the schematism is ultimately dismissed by Kant as ‘an art concealed in the depths of the human soul’ (A141, B180–1). However, Heidegger finds that pursuing the significance of time for the schematism can not only produce insight for his interpretation of Kant, but can also help to clarify the foundational role that temporality plays in his own fundamental ontology. One element that is decisive in his reading of Kant is the idea that a schema is a transcendental determination of time which brings a category into line with intuition by presenting an ‘image’ for the category. It is the work to which the notion of ‘image’ is put in making sense of the schema as a transcendental determination of time that I focus upon in this paper. The examples given by Heidegger, I suggest, draw heavily upon qualities of sensory and aesthetic experience, and in particular, their seemingly contradictory tendencies of inviting yet frustrating categorization. This paper establishes the extent to which aspects of aesthetic experience play a role in enabling a coherent reconstruction of the schematism and of advancing Heidegger’s fundamental ontology, and identifies the kind of role (e.g. analogical, illustrative, or other) they play.

 

Des Hogan (Princeton University)

Order and Affinity in Kant

Kant distinguishes the course of nature, understood as the series of natural events known through the senses, from the order of nature, the same series insofar as it stands under a general rule. The order of nature is in turn divided into a ‘general order,’ whose origin lies in the understanding and the conditions of original apperception, and a ‘particular order’ only established empirically. Kant’s philosophy relates these distinctions to several different kinds of ‘affinity’ (Affinität, affinitasVerwandtschaft). These include the famous ‘transcendental affinity’ of the A-Deduction, glossed as an ‘objective ground of the association of appearances’ through which events are suited to stand under laws; it also includes an affinity of particular laws opposed to their infinite complexity and to an unbounded heterogeneity of natural forms; an affinity of natural forms understood as a continuity of species; and finally an affinity of all possibles rooted in the identity of the ground of their thoroughgoing determination in God. An examination of Kant’s concepts of affinity, as well as their relation to a problematical analysis of order he inherits from Leibniz and Wolff, suggests a motive for a significant revision to the B-edition transcendental deduction.

 

Received short abstracts (in alphabetical order)

Alexander T. Englert (John Hopkins University)

Morality and Nature’s Hidden Plan

Though Kant importantly distinguishes between ends of nature and ends of freedom, these two domains are never perfectly isolated from each other.  By the third Critique the two domains overlap when Kant asserts “the whole of nature is teleologically subordinated” to the highest good.  The convergence of these domains, however, occurs much earlier in the development of Kant’s thought in a shift of Kant’s discernment of the teleological, hidden aim of nature.  I reconstruct this first convergence between the domains of ends about five years prior to the third Critique.  Due to Kant’s developing moral theory, his original views as to the shape of nature’s hidden plan change from merely including morality to prioritizing it: that is, nature’s hidden plan goes from developing humanity as a perfectly rational species to a perfectly moral species.  After sketching this evolution, I unpack two philosophical afterthoughts: first, I address one possible interpretive concern about a possible fallacy of equivocation on my part between rational determination and moral determination; and, second, I gesture towards how this tension sews the seeds of future tensions in the nature of the highest good as an end of freedom that should be realizable by us as a species.

 

Amit Kravitz (LMU, München)

Only with Respect to ‘Nature’: Finite and Divine Freedom in Kant’s Moral Philosophy and in Schelling’s Freiheitsschrift

I will argue that ‘freedom’ is always defined by Kant as having some essential relation to ‘nature’. As Kant stresses time and again, ‘freedom’ is carried out ab ovo by beings which are already situated in-the-world. After noting the essential relation between ‘freedom’ and ‘nature’ regarding finite beings, I will show that that the same holds true with respect to a divine will as well. Kant’s claim that a divine will is determined solely and of itself by the representation of the good may lead to the conclusion that such a will bears no relation whatsoever to ‘nature’, i.e. that a divine will is defined as freedom from nature. As I will show, this position is misleading; an essential relation to ‘nature’ constitutes the very concept of a divine will as well.

As I will suggest, this reading makes the differences between Kant’s philosophy and Schelling’s Freiheitsschrift – in which divine freedom, as the ultimate ground of human freedom, cannot be properly understood without a reference to some conception of nature (Schelling terms it the ‘nature in God’) –  subtler than is sometimes assumed.

 

Andrew Cooper (UCL)

Kant on observation

My aim in this paper is to provide a sketch of Kant’s account of experimental science by focusing on his examination of the classificatory method used in taxonomy. I will give particular focus to Kant’s essays on race, wherein he publically defends a method of classification based on the experimental observation of physical lineages. His account of observation, I suggest, is by no means mainstream; it follows Buffon’s controversial critique of the Linnaean system, though with several qualifications. I first examine Kant’s endorsement of Buffon’s rule in his lectures on physical geography, before turning to the refinement of this view through debates with Herder and Forster in the 1780s. The significance of Kant’s proposal, I suggest, is that it shifts natural history from an atemporal logic of classes into a historical examination of lines of decent based on physical laws. His claim is that only by pursing a methodologically guided form of observation can the naturalist discover physical connections between varieties, thereby bringing them under higher categories that represent true natural boundaries.

 

Avery Goldman (DePaul University)

The Antinomy of Practical Reason

While speculative reason requires a critique of pure reason, “a court of justice” to guard against reason’s “groundless pretensions,” Kant explains that practical reason requires no such tribunal. The Critique of Practical Reason takes place within the territory governed by such an established court, looking not to curtail reason, but to search for it in the practical realm.

This paper will investigate this broadening of Kant’s methodological tools. For it comes as some surprise that in the Dialectic of the Critique of Practical Reason Kant returns to the Epicurean pursuit of “happiness [Glückselligkeit]” that he had rejected in favor of Stoic morality. Kant explains that while moral virtue has been shown to be the “supreme good [das oberste Gut]” (5:110) of human life, it is not yet the “highest good [das höchste Gut],” in the sense of the complete good, for that requires the pursuit of happiness as well. And yet, how such pursuits, Stoic morality, and Epicurean happiness, avoid contradicting each other is hardly clear. By addressing Kant’s antinomy of pure practical reason, this paper will investigate Kant’s attempt to solve this apparent contradiction without denying the “supreme good” of transcendental freedom.

 

Barbara Nunez de Caceres Gonzalez (University College London)

Kant’s Antinomy of Teleological Judgement as a Critique of the Metaphysical Presuppositions Underlying the Naturalistic Conceptions of Life

This paper aims to show that Kant’s Antinomy of Teleological Judgement could be applied as a critique on a contemporary strand of naturalism that regards the problem of biological organization under a metaphysical presupposition: that everything in nature can only be accounted for by physical relations. I will show that the emergence of the antinomy involves the recognition that, apart from the account of mechanism privileged by naturalism, one can also observe beings that produce purposive or meaningful behaviour. I will argue that one inconsistent consequence of naturalism is that it raises the illusion of a meaningless universe constituted only by discrete units, hence leaving the phenomenon of purposiveness unexplained. And since the latter can be observed on empirical grounds, naturalism resorts to filling the gap by surreptitiously introducing the concept of purposive activity, which leads to the demise of its basic position: that nature as a whole is constituted by physical relations. This contradiction is what the antinomy unveils and, although Kant offers a solution to the opposition between mechanism and purposiveness only at a formal level, I will argue that Kant’s solution is still effective as a critique that reveals the inherent partiality and basic presupposition of naturalism.

 

Benjamin Smart (EGENIS University of Exeter) 

Teleology and the striving character of organisms: a preliminary comparison of Breitenbach’s and Schopenhauer’s readings of Kant

How can organisms be understood in our experience of them in nature? One part of Kant’s answer to this question is that the special character of an organism is a conceptual projection made possible by analogy. We consider organisms as if they were purposefully designated by analogy with the causality according to ends.  For this conference paper, I will present a preliminary analysis of the similarities and differences between two readings on this point. Although some interpreters construe Kant’s analogy as relating some objects produced naturally with objects produced technologically, Angela Breitenbach has argued that the explicability of the product is only one facet of the analogy; it is more accurately an analogy with, not only the products of human activity, but with the capacity for the activity itself. In other words, the organism is comprehended as an object of representation and an object of will, but this is reminiscent of Arthur Schopenhauer. What points of similarity and differences lie between these two readings? For instance, whereas Kant seems to think that rational cognition is legislative of willed action, for Schopenhauer it is only when cognition serves the will that an action can be understood as rational. Moreover, where Breitenbach’s Kant treats the will as an integral part of our understanding of organisms, Schopenhauer believes Kant’s treatment to be insufficient, requiring a more developed theory of natural will to supplement it.

 

Chris Onof (Birkbeck College (honorary); Imperial College London) 

Freedom of the will, inner sense, spontaneity

Kant’s resolution of the Third Antinomy reconciles free will with natural determinism by drawing upon Transcendental Idealism’s distinction between the in-itself and appearances. Although the separation of these two domains might suggest a compatibilist solution in which one (appearances)  provides the ‘causal support’ for the other, this does not create the conceptual space necessary for transcendental freedom.

In this paper I show that Kant’s proposal is that one domain (in-itself) might possibly contribute to the causal lawfulness of the other (appearances). I thereby see Kant’s broad strategy as separating out the transcendental problem of reconciling free will and determinism by locating it primarily in inner sense. This leaves what remains of the traditional mind-body interaction problem to be addressed by the incompleteness of the causal determinacy of outer appearances.

My interpretation thereby relates Kant’s conception of transcendental freedom to that of temporally located free decisions. I show that he provides the materials for filling in his broad account of an intelligible causality appearing as empirical character by: (i) differentiating between determinism and predictability to create the conceptual space for freedom; (ii) bringing out the role that cognitive spontaneity plays in our decision-making.

 

Cristobal Garibay-Peterson

Time and Freedom

A fundamental tenet of Kant’s practical philosophy consists in freedom not being bound by the forms of sensibility. Indeed, the categories of freedom are directed to the determination of a free choice and bring content immediately, i.e. not mediated through the pure forms of intuition, under themselves. A crucial aspect of the form of a pure free will, however, is that such form ought to posit a future condition under which to represent its action as undetermined. In this paper I argue that these two considerations, freedom not being conditioned by the forms of sensibility and freedom requiring the representation of a future condition for undetermined action, are not only incompatible but, furthermore, mutually exclusive with one another. I therefore present, on the basis of the mutual exclusivity of the above claims, a dilemma: either Kant’s practical philosophy drops the claim that freedom is unbound by the forms of sensibility; or it drops the claim that to be free is to posit a future condition under which to conceive of undetermined action.

 

Christopher Patrick Benzenberg (University of Oxford)

The Moral and the Natural World: Kant’s Theory of the Highest Good                 

Throughout the second Critique’s Dialectic, Kant repeatedly claims that we are able to attain the highest good. However, many interpreters reject this claim. Two considerations speak in their favour. First, Kant’s moral formalism seems to prohibit the required connection between virtue and happiness. Second, although the postulate of God later ensures the proportional distribution of happiness to virtue, it only demonstrates our inability to attain the highest good by ourselves.

This paper argues that we can, in fact, attain the highest good. In a morally apt nature, the realisation of the kingdom of ends has collective happiness as its result. The argument consists of three parts. First, it is shown that happiness requires desireconsistency and desire-satisfaction. Second, it is argued that virtue intrinsically fulfils the requirement of desire-consistency. Finally, it is suggested that the postulate of God establishes a morally apt nature in which virtue also fulfils the requirement of desire-satisfaction.

 

Dafydd Huw Rees (Cardiff University)

Kant, Habermas, and the Summum Bonum: an Unsuccessful Appropriation?

Jürgen Habermas has characterised many concepts in post-Kantian German philosophy as “appropriations” of motifs from the Judaeo-Christian religious tradition, for example Adorno’s Bildverbot and Benjamin’s anamnestic solidarity. He also regards many of Kant’s central concepts as “appropriations” of this kind, for example autonomy, the kingdom of ends, radical evil, and the summum bonum or highest good. He regards autonomy as the most successful appropriation, and radical evil as the least. Habermas sees Kant’s philosophical project, in this respect, as an attempt to “conceiv(e) the essentially practical contents of the Christian tradition in such a way that these could perdure before the forum of reason.” Interestingly, Habermas describes the summum bonum as a highly significant but only partially successful appropriation.

This paper begins by explaining Kant’s summum bonum, noting the evolution of the concept throughout the three Critiques and the Religion (1). It then discusses Habermas’ characterization of it as an appropriation from the Judaeo-Christian tradition, attempting to evaluate his criteria for successful and unsuccessful appropriations (2). The paper concludes by criticizing Habermas’ view, arguing that it is a simplification which fails to do justice to the complexity of Kant’s summum bonum (3).

 

David Forman (The University of Nevada, Las Vegas)

Kant on Human and Divine Freedom as Intelligent Absolute Spontaneity

Kant famously mocks Leibniz’s automaton spirituale as offering merely the “freedom of a turnspit”: even if we act “according to our own preference,” and thus are determined to action by an inner principle, we can never be an authentic first cause if all causes are determined to their causality in past time. Kant thus agrees with Crusius that appealing to a “spiritual spontaneity” is insufficient for human freedom. But Kant refuses to follow Crusius in defining freedom in terms of an indifferent ability to act contrary to one’s preferences: Kant consistently defines freedom, at least in part, in terms of a determination by the motives representing the good. Kant provides a model for understanding freedom as such an intelligent spontaneity in his account of divine freedom, an account broadly consistent with Baumgarten’s: God is free because he acts spontaneously on his rational preference. Kant affirms that human actions also always have their determining ground in an inner principle of the agent, namely in the maxims expressing the agent’s conception of the good. Kant denies only that these determining grounds lie in the past time: this would place the resulting actions in a temporal series ultimately outside of the agent’s control.

 

Garmon Iogo (Cardiff University)

Adorno and Foucault’s Answer to the Question: Kant’s enlightenment’s other legacy

Adorno and Foucault’s works have traditionally been understood as a rejection of the Enlightenment. However, such a view is seriously challenged by Adorno and Foucault’s borrowings from Kant’s “An Answer to their Question: What is Enlightenment” to define several key aspects of their own projects. Yet, these appropriations are not without difficulty, as the thinkers often use Kant’s definition of enlightenment to justify positions traditionally understood to belong to a counter-enlightenment framework.

We are presented, then, with the obvious question of the validity of such an appropriation. To be able to offer an answer, an understanding of the historical development of philosophical appeals to the term “the Enlightenment” is necessary. I will demonstrate that, in several important senses, the problems in Foucault and Adorno’s appropriations are emblematic of most, if not all, twentieth-century philosophical discussions of Kant’s essay.

This clears the way, in turn, for a re-examination of Adorno and Foucault’s relationship with Kant’s essay. Far from discovering the “brotherly” relationship within an enlightened lineage emanating from Kant which Foucault insists exists between his works and Adorno’s, we discover an uneasy struggle for similar ground. This struggle, in turn, can be seen in their respective appropriation and criticisms of Kant’s enlightenment.

 

Hanne Appelqvist (University of Turku & University of Helsinki) 

Transcendental Idealism and Ethics in Wittgenstein’s Tractatus: a Kantian Reading

According to Kant, there is an “incalculable gulf” between the domains of nature and freedom. In Kant’s view, we cannot have knowledge of freedom, as no sensible intuition corresponds to the notion. Yet, we can meaningfully think about freedom. This paper argues that we find a radicalized version of Kant’s demarcation between the domains of nature and freedom in the early work of Ludwig Wittgenstein. Given that, for Wittgenstein, language and thought are exclusively in the business of picturing facts we cannot so much as think about freedom. Nevertheless, the notion of a will that is either good or evil figures prominently in Wittgenstein’s early thought. This paper argues that while Wittgenstein rejects the idea of a conceptually expressible moral law that is capable of determining which empirical acts are in conformity with, his early account of ethics still draws on Kant’s philosophy. It does this by presenting a version of Kant’s mature attempt of bridging the gulf between nature and freedom as developed in the Third Critique, namely, by an appeal to reflective judgment of the world as a purposive whole.

 

Huw Williams (Cardiff University)

Kant, Rawls and Collective Moral Learning

The Law of Peoples, it is claimed by John Rawls, is deeply influenced by Kant’s Perpetual Peace, and in many respects one can easily identify the continuities between the two texts. In particular Rawls holds to the possibility – ever present in Perpetual Peace – of progress towards a worldwide, peaceful federation. This paper will focus upon the extent to which there are consistencies between the two philosophers with respect to the underlying ideas that provide grounds for this belief in progress.  In particular, Rawls’ account of moral learning and the possibilty that peoples (i.e. collectivities) are capable of such incremental improvements will be examined, and the philosophical assumptions that are central to these claims. This analysis will require further, more detailed examination of Rawls’ assumptions – or omissions – with respect to the role of history and human nature, which can be compared to Kant’s philosophy from a critical, potentially fruitful perspective.

 

Jenna Zhang (University of Chicago)

Between Nature and Freedom: Kant’s Philosophy of History within the Bounds of Practical Reason

TBC

 

Joe Saunders (University of Durham)

The Practical Standpoint

TBC

 

Jon Webber (Cardiff University)

Beauvoir’s Derivation of the Categorical Imperative

Simone de Beauvoir’s short book Pyrrhus and Cineas, first published in 1944 but not translated into English until 2004, contains an argument for the categorical imperative that deserves to be better known in moral philosophy. Beauvoir attempts to derive the imperative to treat human agency as objectively valuable from the structure of human agency itself. Her argument thus resembles Kant’s argument for a categorical imperative that can be stated in the ‘formula of humanity’. Beauvoir’s argument, however, does not rest on any larger metaphysical theory.

This presentation articulates Beauvoir’s argument and isolates its crucial assumptions. It begins from a premise that, according to Beauvoir’s existentialism, everyone must accept: that some ends are valuable. It then aims to derive its conclusion by a sequence of logical entailments. Its distinctive steps are that one must consider one’s own ends to be valuable in themselves, rather than simply valuable because one is pursuing them, and that one must therefore think of them having this value as potential means to further ends. It is from this idea of the value of a potential means that Beauvoir derives the objective value of the capacity to employ means to ends, which is rational human agency.

 

Larissa Berger (University of Siegen (Germany))

What Beauty Teaches Us about Cognition

In the Analytic of the Beautiful Kant is very clear on judgments of taste being detached from judgments of cognition. At least, this is the core idea of judgments of taste being aesthetic judgments. Thus, it seems as if the realm of beauty was clearly separated from the realm of cognition. Despite this, I will argue that there is a strong relation between the two. I will show that through the pleasure in the beautiful we become conscious of us being able to cognize in this world. Thus, it is the realm of beauty that teaches us that the preconditions for cognizing are met. In order to show this, I will focus on the a priori principle of reflective judgment. I will first investigate the content of this principle and show that it is about the objects of nature as well as our intellectual capacities. Second, I will explore the role of the a priori principle in the free play of the faculties and argue that the free play consists of an ongoing positive instantiation of this principle. Third, I will explain that the pleasure in the beautiful phenomenologically includes a consciousness of this positive instantiation.

 

Lorenzo Spagnesi (University of Edinburgh)

Reason as the “touchstone of truth”

Taking my cue from the ERC project ‘Perspectival Realism’, I suggest that Kant elaborated a form of perspectivism, which, far from being a dismissal of realism, was instead committed to solving the problem of truth in the new transcendental context. I argue that there is a gap between the formal possibility assured by the laws of the understanding (particularly, the Second Analogy), and the determinateness of empirical laws. Without the presupposition of real essences, the understanding would merely end up with singular connections, and our cognition would be disoriented and incomplete. My proposal is that this gap can only be bridged through the cooperation of reason and understanding. Reason does not simply require an additional systematisation of already acquired laws but precedes the understanding in its conceptualisation and generates through its principles a perspectival space, in which ideas can be presupposed as real grounds in order to confer intersubjective truth upon our perspectives. This ‘space’ is where reason, as the “touchstone of truth”, can classify the incomplete cognitions of the understanding and orientate the latter in its use. Only through this cooperation, our contingent cognitions can be unified and the empirical lawlikeness of nature made fully possible.

 

Luciano Perulli (KU Leuven)

The Transcendental Deduction of the Highest Good and the Harmony of Freedom and Nature in the second Critique

In the Critique of Practical Reason Kant examines the possibility of the harmony of freedom and nature within his theory of the highest good (AA V: 145). Differently from the first Critique and from the third, in 1788 he gives this account within the Dialectic and frames it as a transcendental deduction (AA V: 112).

In my paper I would like to reconstruct the structure and the development of the proof and try to critically assess its transcendental character. In this regard, I will first situate this account in the overall argument of the second Critique. Then, I will sketch the twofold structure of the proof, roughly corresponding to §§I-2 and §§III-VIII of the second Chapter of the Dialectic. In the final section, I will consider the role of the postulates as conditions of possibility of the highest good and, in this respect, I will argue that Kant’s theory of the highest good can hardly count as a transcendental deduction. As a consequence, the account of the harmony of freedom and nature through the notion of the highest of good cannot be a transcendental one.

 

Manja Kisner (LMU Munich)

The meaning and limits of the discursive understanding in the third Critique

TBC

 

Marie Newhouse (University of Surrey)

Actions on Lawbreaking Maxims

People sometimes intend to break the law. When we act with a lawbreaking intention, is our conduct always wrong? The Kantian answer to this question may seem obvious at first: if a law by definition imposes an unconditional rational requirement on an agent, then surely it is always wrong for an agent to act with intent to break the law. This article challenges the validity of that inference. Careful evaluation of hypothetical maxims reveals that neither an agent’s subjective belief that her action violates the terms of a legislative enactment nor her subjective belief that her action will be contrary to duty is sufficient to make it the case that the action in question is formally wrong. Indeed, these two properties of maxims do not even guarantee formal wrongdoing when they appear together. The best approach to the juridical evaluation of actions begins by unpacking maxims into sets of empirical beliefs and necessary presuppositions of the exercise of rational agency. Then one can determine whether or not these beliefs and presuppositions together imply that an action is formally wrong and therefore potentially criminally punishable.

 

Martin Sticker (Trinity College Dublin/University of Bristol)

Moral Education and Transcendental Idealism

In this paper, we draw attention to several important tensions between Kant’s account of moral education and his commitment to transcendental idealism. Our main claim is that, in locating freedom outside of space and time, transcendental idealism makes it difficult for Kant to both provide a full explanation of how moral education occurs and confirm that his own account actually works. Having laid out these problems, we then offer a response on Kant’s behalf. We argue that, while it might look like Kant has to abandon his commitment to either moral education or transcendental idealism, there is a way in which he can maintain both.

 

Michael Oberst (Humboldt University of Berlin)

A Neglected Argument in Kant’s Beweisgrund Concerning the Grounds of Possibility

Kant’s so-called “possibility proof” from the pre-Critical Beweisgrund attempts to prove God’s existence by showing that only God can be the absolutely necessary being that grounds possibility. However, the way he grounds possibility, according to Kant, is controversial. By considering a widely neglected argument in Beweisgrund (see 2:88), I conclude that he holds that God grounds possibility by his will and his understanding. The reason is that Kant has a broadly Aristotelian conception of possibility, according to which grounds of possibility are potential grounds of actuality. Therefore, I reject the view that Kant holds that possibility must be grounded in order to reduce the number of metaphysically unexplained facts. I also show that his view is similar to Crusius’s account of “real possibility”.

 

Olga Lenczewska  (Stanford University)

From Rationality to Morality: the Collective Development of Practical Reason in Kant’s Anthropological Writings

Kant’s anthropological essays “Idea for a Universal History with a Cosmopolitan Aim” and “Conjectural Beginning of Human History”, which display Kant’s engagement with the genre of ‘conjectural history’, offer an account of the transition between the initial and mature uses of practical reason, and thus an account of our species’ evolution into beings who can set ends in accordance with the moral law. My paper shows that in the light of these texts our attainment of the status of moral agents governed by the moral law is the final stage of a process of the collective development of our species’ social and rational capacities. Moreover, it shows that these writings suggest that although humans entered the condition of sociality for egoistic reasons, the reasons for socio-political co-existence changed from self-interested to moral alongside the gradual development of practical reason.

 

Pavel Reichl (University of Essex)

Kant and Herder on the role of analogy in the transition from nature to freedom

Herder’s Ideas culminate with an argument attempting to show that by means of the analogy between divine and natural laws it is possible to know that nature is hospitable to the final aims of human existence – in other words, that a transition from nature to freedom is possible. In a review of this work, Kant famously criticises his former student’s use of analogy and mocks his poetic style. However, Kant’s own subsequent version of the transition argument similarly relies on analogy: not only is our knowledge of the moral creator of the world analogical, but it is on analogy with physical teleology that we should assume that nature is destined to coincide with our final purpose. The specific challenge is thus to understand how Kant is able to criticise Herder’s employment of analogy without undermining his own use of analogy in the transition argument. In this paper, I argue that the primary difference between the two thinkers lies in their respective conceptions of the relation between direct and indirect cognition. Namely, for Kant indirect cognition by means of analogy needs to be preceded by and grounded in direct cognition, whereas for Herder it does not. For this reason, Kant can maintain that Herder’s conception of the relation between nature and freedom lacks cognitive import, and is thus merely poetic.

 

Predrag Šustar & Zdenka Brzović (University of Rijeka)

The Knowability of Biological Laws

There are two main issues related to the general account of empirical laws of nature: the necessity and the knowability issues. In addition, the role of the presupposition of the unity of experience as a system (UES) should be determined with respect to Kant’s account in question. In this paper, we primarily focus on the knowability of empirical laws. We further explore the interpretative thread according to which the knowability is secured through classification within a hierarchical ordering of more general concepts and/or judgments. In our view, the relationship between the knowability and classification of this kind is ultimately based on Kant’s characterization of our understanding as being “discursive”, i.e., specifically relying on subsumptive procedures. In addition, the third Critique addresses the class of teleological judgments that should also have the status of empirical laws. The specificity of empirical laws of nature referring to biological phenomena is a consequence of the teleology-mechanism general relation in Kant’s philosophy of biology. In that regard, we argue that (i) the knowability of biological laws equally relies on subsumptive procedures, which are, in this specific case, consisting in an explanatory integration between teleological and causal-mechanical judgments; (ii) the role played by UES is, in that way, departing from a merely hierarchical one.

 

Rob Watt (University of Cambridge)

Kant on truth and the content of experience

TBC

 

Sebastian Orlander (Keele University)

Kant on Freedom in Nature: a reading of §§ 82-84 of the Critique of Judgment

§82-84, towards the end of the “Critique of Teleological Judgment,” concern the manner in which one conceives of nature in a systematic fashion, and in what way one places the human being in it. In addition, these sections constitute the transition from Kant’s methodological considerations of teleology within a natural scientific framework to his considerations on theology and the relevance of teleological considerations for practical belief.

The goal of this paper is to understand the connection Kant establishes between teleology and morality and to consider this more broadly within the philosophical system. These sections are a good place to elucidate Kant’s project treated as a whole, given the hinge they occupy between narrow considerations of integrating competing explanatory principles and wider theological considerations. It will also allow a retrospective on the Third Critique as a whole, in considering the relationship between objective and subjective purposiveness and how these are integrated in a broader sense. In particular, one can then see the relationship in Kant’s parallel treatment of beauty in relation to morality, and morality in relation to objective purposiveness, with the faculty of Judgment placed at the centre.

 

Spiros Makris (University of Macedonia)

Immanuel Kant’s ‘Critique of Judgment’ in Hannah Arendt’s political and ethical theory. From imagination and enlarged mentality to reflective thinking and sensus communis

TBC

 

[1] Kantian: I use Kantian merely to lower expectations with respect to close textual analysis and historical fidelity of the sort that is also characteristic in modern ‘reconstructive’ arguments of historical texts. I do not use Kantian as a ready made set of theses or assumptions about ethical, meta-ethical, normative or meta-normative questions.

 

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