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According to Kant’s ethics, at least on one common interpretation, persons have a special worth or dignity that demands respect. But personhood is not coextensive with human life; for example, individuals can live in severe dementia after losing the capacities constitutive of personhood. Some philosophers, including David Velleman and Dennis Cooley, have suggested that individuals living after the loss of their personhood might offend against the Kantian dignity the individuals once possessed. Cooley has even argued that it is morally required on Kantian grounds for those who realize that they will lose their personhood as a result of dementia (e.g. Alzheimer’s) to hasten their deaths (e.g. commit suicide). This article specifies circumstances in which post-personhood living might indeed involve an affront to the Kantian dignity of a person who once was. However, the article contends, Kant implies that it is neither morally required nor even morally permissible for someone in an early stage of Alzheimer’s to hasten their death to avoid such an affront, even if they have autonomously chosen to do so. The article adds an ethical perspective to debate on physician-assisted dying, in particular on the moral permissibility of the soon-to-be-demented ending their lives.
According to a widespread narrative of early modern philosophy, the early modern period was characterised by the development of Descartes’, Spinoza’s, and Leibniz’s rationalism and Locke’s, Berkeley’s, and Hume’s empiricism. The early modern period came to a close once Immanuel Kant, who was neither an empiricist nor a rationalist, combined the insights of both movements in his new Critical philosophy and inaugurated the new eras of German idealism and late modern philosophy. Several scholars have criticised this narrative for overestimating the importance of epistemological issues for early modern philosophers, portraying Kant’s Critical philosophy as a superior alternative to empiricism and rationalism and forcing most early modern thinkers prior to Kant into the empiricist or rationalist camps. Kant’s three Critiques are the first published works that explicitly contrast the terms ‘empiricism’ and ‘rationalism’. This chapter sets out Kant’s contributions to the genesis of the historiographical narrative based on the dichotomy of empiricism/rationalism and argues that Kant is not directly responsible for the biases of that narrative. Kant did not regard the empiricism/rationalism distinction as purely epistemological, did not portray most of his early modern predecessors as empiricists or rationalists, and did not place himself over and above empiricism and rationalism.
The emergence of experimental philosophy was one of the most significant developments in the early modern period. However, it is often overlooked in modern scholarship, despite being associated with leading figures such as Francis Bacon, Robert Boyle, Isaac Newton, Jean Le Rond d'Alembert, David Hume and Christian Wolff. Ranging from the early Royal Society of London in the seventeenth century to the uptake of experimental philosophy in Paris and Berlin in the eighteenth, this book provides new terms of reference for understanding early modern philosophy and science, and its eventual eclipse in the shadow of post-Kantian notions of empiricism and rationalism. Experimental Philosophy and the Origins of Empiricism is an integrated history of early modern experimental philosophy which challenges the rationalism and empiricism historiography that has dominated Anglophone history of philosophy for more than a century.
Individuals sometimes do things that they know will violate the terms of a statute. Most scholars deny that such actions are always morally wrong, but a coherent theoretical account of the relationships between 1) moral obligation, 2) legal obligation, and 3) criminal wrongdoing that can robustly classify hard cases has been elusive. This article starts with a Kantian account of the relationship between law and morality, and it proposes two closely related standards: one for legal obligation, and another for criminal wrongdoing. It then tests the plausibility and resilience of these standards by using them to generate illuminating new analyses of classic hypothetical cases involving alleged crimes committed under circumstances of necessity. These analyses offer reason to believe that the standards proposed in this article can anchor a Kantian theory of criminal responsibility that is simultaneously rigorous and humane.
Hermann Lotze argued that the fact that consciousness simultaneously “holds objects together as well as apart” such that they can be compared implies (a) that there is a simple thinker and (b) that consciousness is an ‘indivisible unity.’ I offer a reconstruction and evaluation of Lotze’s Argument from Comparison. I contend that it does not deliver (a) but makes a good case for (b). I will relate Lotze’s argument to the contemporary debate between “top-down” and “bottom-up” views of the unity of consciousness and locate it in its historical context. (Kant and Herbart figure prominently here.)
Immanuel Kant maintained throughout his life that non-human persons likely exist but he failed to specify how we could recognise them. In this article, I argue (a) that non-human organisms can be considered non-human persons if they can be judged as belonging to a species with a moral vocation, and (b) a species can be judged as having a moral vocation if at least one of its members is able to make what I will call a “moral sacrifice” in which that member sacrifices its physical life for the sake of its moral life.
Peirce’s concept of science entails that normative judgment in science, about which types of theory or explanation or evidence, etc., are good, must depend on the evidence provided by the experience of inquiring (Chapter 2), a thesis supported by the history of science (Chapter 3). This implies a method, at once empirical and normative, which Peirce’s late sketch of a trio of ’normative sciences’ (aesthetics, ethics, logic) generalizes and rationalizes. Its generalization is supported by Peirce’s expansion of empiricism (Chapter 7), and its rationalization depends on the rediscovery of final causation (Chapter 6). Although sketchy, Peirce’s idea of normative sciences is important; for its plausibility undermines that most pernicious of dichotomies, of fact and value. This chapter explicates Peirce’s idea of normative science, traces its method from Schiller’s aesthetics through Kant’s ethics, and suggests that the rediscovery of final causation corrects what is most problematic in Kant’s metaphysics of morals, viz., its anti-naturalism.
Can finite humans grasp universal truth? Is it possible to think beyond the limits of reason? Are we doomed to failure because of our finitude? In this clear and accessible book, Barnabas Aspray presents Ricœur's response to these perennial philosophical questions through an analysis of human finitude at the intersection of philosophy and theology. Using unpublished and previously untranslated archival sources, he shows how Ricœur's groundbreaking concept of symbols leads to a view of creation, not as a theological doctrine, but as a mystery beyond the limits of thought that gives rise to philosophical insight. If finitude is created, then it can be distinguished from both the Creator and evil, leading to a view of human existence that, instead of the 'anguish of no' proclaims the 'joy of yes.'
Prior to shaping literary depictions of a nature classed both wondrous and terrible, sublime discourse addressed uplifting, transporting encounters with the written word. Nicolas Boileau’s influential French translation of Longinus’ ancient treatise On the Sublime (ca. first century CE) restyled the branch of sublime discourse dedicated to discourse itself, suggesting that sublime literature is not elevated simply because it is complex or because it is marked by a high or lofty style. Rather sublime works of verbal art carry a peculiar charge, a charge or spark relayed to audiences taking in sublime textual encounters. This emphasis on a charged sublime encounter would underwrite prominent philosophical and aesthetic accounts of sublime nature penned by Kant, Wordsworth, Burke, and Keats. Such literary representations of sublime nature are famously ambivalent, with aesthetic renderings of earthquakes, fires, or floods bearing out fraught questions of agency. Kantian and Wordsworthian models of sublime nature suggest human agencies of mind transcend vast powers of nature. Burkean and Keatsian accounts of dread nature or astounding material sublimities ultimately humble humankind.
This article considers an apparent Achilles heel for Kant’s transcendental idealism, concerning his account of how synthetic a priori knowledge is possible. The problem is that while Kant’s distinctive attempt to explain synthetic a priori knowledge lies at the heart of his transcendental idealism, this explanation appears to face a dilemma: either the explanation generates a problematic regress, or the explanation it offers gives us no reason to favour transcendental idealism over transcendental realism. In the article, I consider G. E. Moore’s version of the problem, which I argue has not yet received an adequate response. Instead, I offer a way out of this dilemma by focusing on the normativity rather than the metaphysics of the mind.
The Element provides an overview of Immanuel Kant's arguments regarding the content of the moral law (the categorical imperative), as well as an exposition of his arguments for the bindingness of the moral law for rational agents. The Element also considers common objections to Kant's ethics.
This chapter explores a variety of philosophical engagements with Cicero in the long eighteenth century, with particular attention to the varied, and at times contradictory, purposes that Cicero might serve. Following an introductory discussion of Cicero and John Locke, the chapter proceeds thematically, turning first to Cicero and eighteenth-century ethics, then to eloquence, civil religion, and law, and finally to Cicero’s status as an exemplar of the active life. In exploring these themes, the chapter deals with the Earl of Shaftesbury Anthony Ashley-Cooper, David Hume, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Adam Smith, Montesquieu, John Adams, James Wilson, and Immanuel Kant.
According to Stephen Darwall's second-personal account, moral obligations constitutively involve relations of authority and accountability between persons. Darwall takes this account to lend support to Immanuel Kant's moral theory. Critics object that the second-personal account abandons central tenets of Kant's system. I respond to the three main challenges that critics offer by showing that they rest on misunderstandings of the second-personal account. Properly understood, this account is not only congenial to Kant's moral theory, but also illuminates aspects of that theory which have hitherto received scant attention. In particular, it motivates a fresh perspective on the relationship between respect, persons, and the law.
The relation between Kantian transcendental philosophy and Jamesian pragmatism is both historically and systematically crucial for the conception of pragmatism and truth developed in the book. Chapter 3 first introduces the basic idea of "transcendental pragmatism" - the integration of pragmatist, or pragmatically naturalized, and Kantian-inspired transcendental arguments identifying conditions for the possibility of things we take to be actual in our practices - and then offers a critical comparison between some of Kant's and James's key ideas, especially elaborating on their pessimistic conception of the human being and suggesting that Jamesian empirical meliorism (as distinguished from both optimism and pessimism) needs to be built upon Kantian transcendental pessimism about the limits of the human condition. Based on this development of transcendental pragmatism, the relation between ethics and religion - analogous in Kant and James - is critically considered: if religion can only be based on ethics, we will have to ask whether (ethically) legitimate religious faith inevitably remains insincere.
Studies the ‘afterlife’ of the gospels into the public realm – the realm of morality and politics. According to Bader-Saye, the gospels are misunderstood if they are confined to the realm of the personal. Rather, the gospels are a summons to a moral life expressive of shared ‘deep themes’ of liberation, dispossession and love. He elaborates on this through a critical appreciation of the way these gospel themes have been taken up in modern discussions of ethics and politics from Immanuel Kant to Romand Coles.
What does Darwin’s theory have to say about human evolution? To answer this question, we turn first to philosophical discussions on the nature of rationality, specifically those of David Hume and Immanuel Kant. They both argue that the mind is preformed for thinking, with certain norms about mathematics and causality a priori for the individual human. Darwin argues that this is all a product of selection. Those proto-humans who took mathematics and causality seriously survived and reproduced, and those that did not, did not. This is Pragmatism, as we see from a brief consideration of the thinking of C. S. Peirce in the nineteenth century and Richard Rorty in the twentieth. We are not stuck in relativism, because the scientific evidence is that there is little genetic variation between humans. What we do not have, because Darwinism is within the mechanism paradigm, is any way of extracting absolute value from science and hence the natural world. Darwinian science cannot prove human superiority. This is preparing the way for existentialism.
This chapter is a study in the critical deconstruction of one of the most popular theoretical paradigms in modern international law and its basic ideological impact on international law as a discipline. The paradigm in question is voluntarist positivism, and the general thrust of its ideological impact on the discipline of international law, I am going to argue, has been to encourage within it the rise and spread of what one might call a theoretical culture of bad faith – a mix of false consciousness, self-censorship, and a “crooked attitude towards truth and knowledge”– particularly, in what concerns international law’s relationship with natural law and Christian theology.
The last two sentences use a lot of notoriously ambivalent concepts. For the prevention of doubt, let me explain briefly how I understand them in these pages.
Two root metaphors help us to interpret the world. The older, going back to the Greeks, sees the world as an organism, organicism. The younger, which came into play during the Scientific Revolution, sees the world as a machine, mechanism. The former sees the superiority of humans as part of the natural development of an organic world. The latter thinks that if science is to show humans superior, then it must show how and why. Prominent mechanists include Charles Darwin, the father of evolutionary theory through natural selection. Prominent organicists, all owing a debt to the German Romantic philosopher Friedrich Schelling, include Herbert Spencer, Henri Bergson, and Alfred North Whitehead.
Today, Christianity is often described as a ‘worldview’, especially among Reformed evangelicals in the USA. In this article I return to the 1890 lectures where Scottish theologian James Orr adapted the concept of Weltanschauung for Christian purposes. Although it was coined by Immanuel Kant in 1790, and primarily used in subsequent decades to theorise cultural difference and evaluate aesthetic expression, Orr nevertheless claims that the idea of a worldview is ‘as old as the dawn of reflection’ and thus appropriate to articulating Christianity. I examine Orr's engagement with the Kantian and emerging historicist context, paying particular attention to his epistemological and aesthetic citations and showing how Orr both adopts and departs from the characteristic features of the Kantian subject. I conclude by assessing the philosophical and theological costs of this project that, among other things, positions Christianity for perpetual culture war within secular societies similarly shaped by the post-Kantian subject.
Close attention to Kant’s comments on animal minds has resulted in radically different readings of key passages in Kant. A major disputed text for understanding Kant on animals is his criticism of G. F. Meier’s view in the 1762 ‘False Subtlety of the Four Syllogistic Figures’. In this article, I argue that Kant’s criticism of Meier should be read as an intervention into an ongoing debate between Meier and H. S. Reimarus on animal minds. Specifically, while broadly aligning himself with Reimarus, Kant distinguishes himself from both Meier and Reimarus on the role of judgement in human consciousness.