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Kant’s moral argument for faith in God aims not at converting unbelievers but at offering those who believe a reason for principled assent to the existence of God on moral grounds. It is based on a rational connection between purposive action and assent that applies not only to religious belief but to many other purposes as well, such as what Royce called “loyalty to a lost cause.” The argument in the Critique of Pure Reason differs significantly from its presentation in later works. Kantian moral faith is in tension with Cliffordian evidentialism but not inconsistent with it, and the two together constitute the doxastic virtue lying between the twin vices of uncritical credulity and stubborn incredulity; together they enable us to avoid the complacencies of both despairing resignation and overconfidence.
This chapter examines the sentence in the Critique of Practical Reason in which Immanuel Kant explicitly discusses the Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals and its relation to the new book. In a surprising reversal towards the end of the deduction section of the Critique of Practical Reason, Kant tells one that the 'vainly sought deduction of the moral principle' is replaced by another deduction, namely the deduction of freedom. Kant never quite identifies freedom and the fact of reason, which is the awareness of the authority of the moral law. He returns to the role of morality as the ratio cognoscendi of freedom and accords the support freedom receives from these quarters the status of a deduction. In a striking note from the Duisburg papers, Kant explicitly turns to the task of a 'critique of practical reason'.
This chapter focuses on the meaning and the importance of the 'fact of reason' in the second Critique of Practical Reason. When he introduces the 'fact of reason', he refers to an alleged consciousness of the fundamental law of pure practical reason, which he also calls consciousness of the moral law. The chapter situates the occurrence of the terminology of a Factum der Vernunft in its argumentative context and provides an interpretation. By the end of the eighteenth century, then, 'factum' could mean either 'deed' or 'fact'. The proper way of reading the expression 'fact of reason' does not yet tells one how successful Kant's use of it is in his argument. Virtually all authors who discuss the fact of reason do so in terms of morality. They introduce the 'consciousness' that Kant calls a fact of reason as the 'consciousness of the moral law' or 'moral consciousness'.
The Doctrine of Method of Pure Practical Reason shows how carefully Immanuel Kant avoids being constrained by the pattern of the first Critique of Practical Reason. It has the important function of connecting the philosophical inquiry to its outcome in the life of moral subjects. Kant had given no special emphasis to this transition before the Critique. Kant announces that, in order to give proof of 'receptivity' to morality, he make use of 'observations anyone can make'. This experimental approach starts from an even lower level than one might expect, because it refers to 'conversation in mixed companies'. The function of the Doctrine of the Method, then, proves to belong to the very core of the project of the Critique, and provides an important key to the correct understanding of the work.
Immanuel Kant seeks to establish in the Critique of Practical Reason 'that there is pure practical reason'. The aim of the Critique of Practical Reason is inverse compared with the aim of the Critique of Pure Reason: Whereas the first Critique is supposed to show that one cannot apply pure reason constitutively in a speculative sense, the second Critique is supposed to substantiate the view that objections against the practical constitutive application of pure reason put forward by the empiricists and sceptics are vacuous. In the preface to the Critique of Practical Reason, Kant comments on a few objections that have been raised against his critical philosophy in general, as well as against his foundation of moral philosophy in particular, since 1781. In the Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, Kant distinguishes between the 'critique of pure speculative reason' and the 'Critique of Pure Practical Reason'.
Immanuel Kant's argument in Section III of Groundwork is a metaphysical argument that the moral law is the causal law of the noumenal self immediately raises several objections, three of which are discussed in this chapter. Kant addresses these three questions in his works on the foundations of morality subsequent to the Groundwork, that is, the Critique of Practical Reason and Religion Within the Boundaries of Mere Reason. Kant addresses the first two of these questions in the Critique, but he did not address third question there nor modify his position in any way that would resolve the third question. He addresses the third question only in the Religion, although not so much by retracting the argument that gives rise to it, as by skirting it. The chapter describes Kant's explanation of how his theory of freedom is to be reconciled with his thoroughly deterministic theory of experience.
In the Critique of Practical Reason, Immanuel Kant identifies the relevant dialectic as the consequence of reason's attempt to discover the absolute totality of conditions governing a given condition, and not, as he had in the Groundwork, as a conflict between the law of reason and the maxims based on wishes and inclinations. In order to assess Kant's arguments, one should first remind us of the particular error of the ancients to which Kant refers in the second chapter of the 'Analytic' of pure practical reason. According to Kant, the Greek thinkers made the mistake of identifying the concept of the morally good with the concept of the highest good and therefore with an object which they intended afterwards to make the determining ground of the will in the moral law. Transcendental idealism appeared to be the only way of resolving the problem of the antinomies.
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