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Forgiveness and mercy are often thought of as acts that we perform or gifts that we bestow. In this essay the author focuses on character and explores the implications for punishment if one focuses on having a character that is merciful and forgiving in disposition. He argues that the tension that is often thought to exist between justice, on the one hand, and forgiveness and mercy, on the other, is lessened by focusing on the virtue of having a forgiving and merciful character.
This article develops an account of the nature and limits of the state’s legislative authority that closely attends to the challenge of harmonizing Kant’s ethical and juridical theories. It clarifies some key Kantian concepts and terms, then explains the way in which the state’s three interlocking authorities – legislative, executive, and judicial – are metaphysically distinct and mutually dependent. It describes the emergence of the Kantian state and identifies the preconditions of its authority. Then it offers a metaphysical model of the Kantian state and uses it to argue that the activity of juridical lawgiving is an act of the omnilateral will itself. Legislative authority is limited in the sense that it does not include the capacity to create juridical laws that are conceptually incompatible with the idea of universal external freedom. I argue that my proposed account of the legislative authority is wholly consistent with that authority’s exclusive lawgiving capacity and does not threaten the possibility of ‘distributive justice’ – the legal finality that is the sine qua non of a civil condition.
Kant deploys analogies from private law in describing relations between states. I explore the relation between these analogies and the broader Kantian idea of the distinctively public nature of a rightful condition, in order to explain why states, understood as public things, stand in horizontal, private legal relations without themselves being private. I use this analysis to explore the international law analogues of the three titles of private right, explaining how territory differs from property, treaty from contract and the specific form of status relations between nations. I conclude with a brief discussion of the ongoing relevance of these horizontal relations.
The main thesis of this article is that Kant’s concept of law is a non-positivistic one, notwithstanding the fact that his legal philosophy includes very strong positivistic elements. My argument takes as its point of departure the distinction of three elements, around which the debate between positivism and non-positivism turns: first, authoritative issuance, second, social efficacy, and, third, moral correctness. All positivistic theories are confined to the first two elements. As soon as a necessary connection between these first two elements and the third element, moral correctness, is established, the picture changes fundamentally. Positivism becomes non-positivism. There exist two kinds of connections between law and morality: classifying and qualifying connections. This distinction stems from different sorts of effects that moral defects give rise to. A classifying connection leads to the loss of legal validity, whereas a qualifying connection leads only to legal defectiveness. In Kant’s theory of law both connections are found. The qualifying connection is conspicuous throughout Kant’s theory of law, whereas the classifying connection, by contrast, is rare and well hidden. This will suffice to consider Kant as a representative of inclusive non-positivism.
The article considers Nietzsche’s conception of philosophy by giving a careful interpretation of aphorism 373 of book V of The Gay Science. In this important aphorism, Nietzsche puts forward the idea that all genuine philosophical judgments are akin to a judgment about “the value of a piece of music,” and hence akin to judgments that express “what good taste demands” (GS 373). The article takes this to mean that, for Nietzsche, philosophical judgments are value-judgments, and value-judgments are aesthetic judgments (or judgments of taste). On this basis, the article then tries to take two further steps: first, to show that Nietzsche understands aesthetic judgments by the lights of Kant’s conception of taste as a “reflective taste” (CJ 8), thereby conceiving of aesthetic value-judgments as reflective judgments; second, the article argues that Nietzsche’s view of philosophical judgments as reflective value-judgments is the basis of his rejection of a positivist (or, in modern vocabulary, naturalist) conception of philosophy. Finally, the article links Nietzsche’s conception of philosophy to his conception of life as akin to music, and thus as having a polysemic, perspectival, and interrogative nature (or the “character of a question-mark”, GS 375).
There is a debate in the literature as to whether Kantian self-conceit is intrapsychic or interpersonal. I argue that self-conceit is both. I argue that, for Kant, self-conceit is fundamentally an illusion about authority, one’s own and any authority one stands in relation to. Self-conceit refuses to recognize the authority of the law. But the law “shows up” for us in two guises: one’s own reason and other persons. Thus, self-conceit refuses to recognize both guises of the law. Hence self-conceit is essentially double-sided, at once intrapsychic and interpersonal.
Arendt argued that political thought and discourse have traditionally been misconceived by philosophers, who have typically measured them against philosophical standards, and so conceived them as crude or defective forms of philosophy. This chapter explains how she reconceived the main faculties of political thought (opinion, judgment, imagination), the central forms of political thought (narrative thought, exemplary thought, and what she called “representative thought”), and the central mode of political discourse (persuasion). She saw political thought and discourse as primarily non-theoretical, in contrast to the theoretical forms of thought and discourse central to philosophy. Her project was to rethink these non-theoretical forms of thought and discourse in light of their powers in the realm of politics, rather than in light of their weakness in the realm of philosophy. This distinction between theoretical and non-theoretical thought and discourse sets up the question of the next chapter: How did the political theories of classical philosophers distort or obscure the non-theoretical understanding of politics implicit in Greek literature and history?
Making sense of Kant’s claim that it is morally necessary for us to believe in the immortal soul is a historically fraught issue. Commentators typically reject it, or take one of two paths: they either restrict belief in the immortal soul to our subjective psychology, draining it of any substantive rational grounding; or make it out to be a rational necessity that morally interested beings must accept on pain of contradiction. Against these interpreters, I argue that on Kant’s view, belief in our immortality is necessary because it further determines and enriches the cognitive content contained in the concept of the highest good. Through this sharpened conceptual content, we acquire the resources to withstand theoretical skepticism about our moral vocation.
The metaphysical “Law of Continuity of Alterations” (“LCA”) says that whenever an object alters from one state to another, it passes through a continuum of intermediate states. Kant treated LCA as a transcendental law of understanding. The primary purpose of the paper is to reconstruct and evaluate Kant’s three arguments for LCA. All three are found to be inadequate. However, a secondary goal of the paper is to show that LCA would have more naturally been construed as a regulative principle of reason (rather than a law of understanding). I conclude with some remarks about how this could work.
In Chapter 8 I will expand on three components of the revisionary Kantian conception: its recourse to a specific type of practical reason for legal obligation (intersubjective reasons), its inclusion of mandatory force in defining what can count as legal obligation, and its Kantian underpinnings
In Chapter 7, by building on the positions defended in my critiques of the social practice account, the interpretivist account, the conventionalist reason account, and the exclusionary reason account, I will put forward an entirely different conception of legal obligation. This conception, which is alternative to any other existing theory, I will call the ‘revisionary Kantian conception’ of legal obligation. The revisionary Kantian conception embodies both the features constitutive of the general concept of obligation simpliciter and the views on legal obligation theorized in contemporary legal philosophy, on which it seeks to improve. So, by combining the claims defended in the positive in defining a concept of obligation with the claims made in the negative in rebutting the main contemporary theories of legal obligation, one gets the materials out of which to construct an alternative theoretical account of legal obligation. The resulting theory of legal obligation I present as the revisionary Kantian conception can be summarized thus: legal obligation is a reason for carrying out certain courses of conduct, a reason engendered by the law and stating that such conduct is required as a matter of intersubjective considerations.
The impact of David Hume’s philosophy on modern philosophy in general and on Scottish philosophy in particular is closely conncected to his scepticism. The paper provides a detailed account of his exposition of the different meanings of scepticism in An Enquiry concerning Human Understanding, discusses some aspects of Hume’s epistemological scepticism in the Treatise of Human Nature that cannot be found in the Enquiry, reconstructs the basic elements of Thomas Reid s critique of Hume’s scepticism as well as Reid’s concept of common sense, and finally compares the positions of Hume and Reid. Although both Reid and Hume were engaged in what they took to be the ‘anatomy’ or ‘geography’ of the human mind, there were decisive differences between them, in particular concerning their concepts of ‘common sense’.
In the period 1770-1830 the progressive dissolution of the antithesis between religious inwardness and Enlightenment critique gave rise to historically unparalleled creativity in German literature and thought. This is also the age in which human subjectivity was decisively redefined by critical and then post-critical Idealism in German philosophy. Between 1770 and 1830 the twin heritages of rationalism in German Idealist philosophy and Pietism in the beginnings of modern biblical criticism came together. In so doing, both decisively affected the vocabulary of German literature and its function as a mode of cultural critique in late eighteenth and early nineteenth-century Germany. The development in German writing from the literature of Empfindsamkeit (Sentimentality) and Sturm und Drang (Storm and Stress) to Romanticism reflects the evolution of a specifically literary idea of inwardness which variously expresses and challenges theological and political constructions of the subject.
The Romans had a difficult relationship with the kind of luxury and excess that we think of as indicators of moral and social decadence. But in many ways they revelled in such luxury. Readily accepting the financial rewards of empire, they spent huge sums on their own benefits. Whether in the colossal public games in the amphitheatre and the circus, in the opulent imperial bath complexes, or in extravagant private villas, Romans of all social levels delighted in the very best that life was thought to offer. Chapter 1 examines how far the evidence supports this somewhat melodramatic view of Rome by looking at the ways in which luxury spread in the Roman world. It also looks at the ways this growth in luxury compelled the Romans to create new concepts to understand the phenomenon. Luxury was almost never seen as a simple index of increased wealth. Rather, it raised all manner of moral issues among Rome’s ruling classes, many of which long outlived the end of the Roman empire itself.
In the middle of the eighteenth century, the German rationalist philosopher Alexander Gottlieb Baumgarten originated the ‘science’ of aesthetics as a means of analysing sensuous responses to art and nature. By the end of the century, in his Critique of Judgment (1790), Immanuel Kant demonstrated that aesthetic preferences or judgments of taste operated outside the realm of reason but could nonetheless be subjected to categorical treatment. The relationship between this aesthetic tradition and decadence is an intimate and complex one. Both the stock figure of the aesthete and the aestheticism of ‘art for art’s sake’ are classic decadent tropes with obvious sources in figures such as Théophile Gautier, Walter Pater, and Joris-Karl Huysmans. Yet the connections between aesthetics and decadence are more conflicted than might first appear: historically, aesthetics has served both as a site for the theorization of decadence and as the basis of an attempt to limit it, as in the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. The purpose of this chapter is to examine these intricate ties.
The argument of this chapter proceeds in the form of constructive criticism of Charles Travis’s recent work on perception. Travis has presented a powerful argument against the idea that perception, as such, provides us with true-or-false representations of the world. The representationalist view, Travis argues, fails to respect the fundamental Fregean distinction between "the conceptual" and "the nonconceptual." According to Travis, what perception presents us with is nonconceptual; hence, perception is indeterminate as far as representational content goes. Travis argues that determinate representational content, on the other hand, is only created when things are judged to be some particular way or another. In this chapter, Avner Baz finds himself in substantial agreement with Travis, but argues that something important also goes missing in the latter’s account, namely what Baz calls "the phenomenal world"; that is, the world as perceived and responded toprior to becoming the object of true or false judgments. In particular, Baz shows how Travis consistently represses the phenomenal world in his account of perception whenever he attempts to explain the perception of what Wittgenstein calls "aspects"; for any respectable account of the perception of such aspects, Baz argues, ought to bring the phenomenal world into view.
I argue that Kant’s mature political philosophy entails the provisionality thesis. The provisionality thesis asserts that in a world like ours, populated with beings sufficiently like us, acquired rights (rights to external objects of choice, including property, sovereignty and territory) are necessarily provisional. I motivate the standard view, which restricts the notion of provisional right to the state of nature and the transition from the state of nature to the civil condition. I then provide two textual arguments against it. I conclude by reflecting on the normative implications of the provisionality thesis, arguing that they are more modest than has been formerly appreciated.