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Kant claims that Aristotle’s logic is complete. He defends this claim from the nature of a strictly scientific logic, and rejects as futile the attempts by some modern philosophers at extending it. I analyse what it means for Kant to regard Aristotle’s (formal) logic as complete, explain the historical and philosophical considerations that commit him to proving the completeness claim and sketch the proof based on materials from his logic corpus. The proof will turn out to be an integral part of Kant’s larger reform of formal logic in response to a foundational crisis facing it.
In ‘On the Supposed Right to Lie from Philanthropy’, Kant defends a position that cannot be salvaged. The essay is nonetheless important because it helps us understand his philosophy of law and, more specifically, his interpretation of the social contract. Kant considers truthfulness a strict legal duty because it is the necessary condition for the juridical state. As attested by Kant’s rejection of Beccaria’s arguments against the death penalty, not even the right to life has such strict unconditional status. Within the juridical state, established by the social contract, the (single) innate right to freedom is transformed into a bundle of merely positive rights, including the right to life. Understanding the reason for the rejection of ‘the right to lie from philanthropy’ thus helps us understand the, in a sense, ‘positivist’ character of Kant’s legal philosophy. In conclusion, some suggestions are made to bring his position closer to our common moral understanding.
In his applied moral philosophy, Kant formulates the parents’ duty to make their child happy. I argue that, for Kant, this duty is an ad hoc attempt at compensating for the parental guilt of having brought a person into the condition of existence – and hence also having created her need for happiness – on their own initiative. I argue that Kant’s considerations regarding parental duties and human reproduction in general imply arguments for an ethically justified anti-natalism, but that this position is abolished in his teleology for meta-ethical reasons.
Kant’s most canonical argument against suicide, the universal law argument, is widely dismissed. This paper attempts to save it, showing that a suicide maxim, universalized, undermines all bases for practical law, resisting both the non-negotiable value of free rational willing and the ordinary array of sensuous commitments that inform prudential incentives. Suicide therefore undermines moral law-governed community as a whole, threatening ‘savage disorder’. In pursuing this argument, I propose a non-teleological and non-theoretical nature – a ‘practical nature’ or moral law governed whole – the realization of which morality demands.
The two standard interpretations of Kant’s view of the relationship between external freedom and public law make one of the terms a means for the production of the other: either public law is justified as a means to external freedom, or external freedom is justified as a means for producing a system of public law. This article defends an alternative, constitutive interpretation: public law is justified because it is partly constitutive of external freedom. The constitutive view requires conceiving of external freedom in a novel, second-personal way, that is, as an irreducibly relational norm.
Many commentators have failed to identify the important issues at the heart of the debate between Habermas and Rawls. This is partly because they give undue attention to differences between Rawls’s original position and Habermas’s principle (U), neither of which is germane to the actual dispute. The dispute is at bottom about how best to conceive of democratic legitimacy. Rawls indicates where the dividing issues lie when he objects that Habermas’s account of democratic legitimacy is comprehensive and his is confined to the political. But his argument is vitiated by a threefold ambiguity in what he means by ‘comprehensive doctrine’. Tidying up this ambiguity helps reveal that the dispute turns on the way in which morality relates to political legitimacy. Although Habermas calls his conception of legitimate law ‘morally freestanding’, and as such distinguishes it from Kantian and natural law accounts of legitimacy, it is not as freestanding from morality as he likes to present it. Habermas’s mature theory contains conflicting claims about the relation between morality and democratic legitimacy. So there is at least one important sense in which Rawls’s charge of comprehensiveness is made to stick against Habermas’s conception of democratic legitimacy, and remains unanswered.
Andrew Chignell and Omri Boehm have recently argued that Kant’s pre-Critical proof for the existence of God entails a Spinozistic conception of God and hence substance monism. The basis for this reading is the assumption common in the literature that God grounds possibilities by exemplifying them. In this article I take issue with this assumption and argue for an alternative Leibnizian reading, according to which possibilities are grounded in essences united in God’s mind (later also described as Platonic ideas intuited by God). I show that this view about the distinction between God’s cognition of essences as the ground of possibility and the actual world is not only explicitly stated by Kant, but is also consistent with his metaphysical picture of teleology in nature and causality during the pre-Critical period. Finally, I suggest that the distinction between the conceptual order of essences embodied in the idea of God and the order of the objects of experience plays a role in the transition into the Critical system, where it is transformed into the distinction between the intelligible and the sensible worlds.
Tamar Schapiro has offered an important new ‘Kantian’ account of inclination and motivation, one that expands and refines Christine Korsgaard’s view. In this article I argue that Kant’s own view differs significantly from Schapiro’s. Above all, Kant thinks of inclinations as dispositions, not occurrent desires; and he does not believe that they stem directly from a non-rational source, as she argues. Schapiro’s ‘Kantian’ view rests on a much sharper distinction between the rational and non-rational parts of the soul. In the process of explaining these (and other) differences, I argue that Kant’s own view is in some respects philosophically superior to Schapiro’s.
This article discusses the concept of publicity in Kant’s moral philosophy. Insofar as the concepts of ‘public’ and ‘private’ can describe our relations with others, they can be considered to be moral concepts. I argue that we can find in Kant a moral duty not to keep our maxims of action private, or secret. Whereas Korsgaard argues that sometimes in the face of evil it is permissible to sidestep the moral law, I argue that it is rather through publicity that we can deal with evil in the non-ideal world. Moreover, by being open with our maxims, moral progress is possible.
I endorse Allais’s ‘moderate metaphysical’ approach to transcendental idealism, but find tension between her concept of ‘manifest reality’ and her relational interpretation of the doctrine. And I think her reconstruction of Kant’s argument for transcendental idealism fails to block the famous ‘missing alternative’ objection, although in my view Kant’s fundamental argument for the position was intended precisely to block such an objection.
Lucy Allais’s Manifest Reality presents a systematic discussion of the role that Kant assigns to concepts in making knowledge of objects possible. In this paper, I ascribe to Allais a version of non-conceptualism, according to which knowledge is a ‘hybrid’ or loose unity of concept and intuition; concept relates to intuition as form relates to matter in an artefact. I will show how this view has trouble accommodating the distinction between knowledge and accidentally true belief, and how it leads to objectionable forms of idealism.
Lucy Allais’s anti-phenomenalist interpretation of transcendental idealism is incomplete in two ways. First of all, like some phenomenalists, she is committed to denying the coherence of claims of numerical identity of appearances and things in themselves. Secondly, she fails to explain adequately what grounds the actuality of appearances. This opens the door to a phenomenalist understanding of appearances.
There is a tension at the heart of Lucy Allais’s new account of Kant’s transcendental idealism. The problem arises from her use of two incompatible theories in contemporary philosophy – relationalism about perception, or naïve realism, and relationalism about colour, or more generally relationalism about any such perceptual property. The problem is that the former requires a more robust form of realism about the properties of the objects of perception than can be accommodated in the partially idealistic framework of the latter. On Allais’s interpretation, Kant’s notorious attempt to balance realism and idealism remains unstable.