Ideas of Immanuel Kant, by Theme

[German, 1724 - 1804, Born and died at Königsberg, on the Baltic. Professor at the University there.]

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1. Philosophy / A. Wisdom / 1. Nature of Wisdom
Cleverness is shown in knowing what can reasonably be asked
Wisdom is knowing the highest good, and conforming the will to it
Moral self-knowledge is the beginning of all human wisdom
1. Philosophy / D. Nature of Philosophy / 3. Philosophy Defined
What fills me with awe are the starry heavens above me and the moral law within me
1. Philosophy / D. Nature of Philosophy / 5. Aims of Philosophy / e. Philosophy as reason
Reason is only interested in knowledge, actions and hopes
Consistency is the highest obligation of a philosopher
Because there is only one human reason, there can only be one true philosophy from principles
1. Philosophy / D. Nature of Philosophy / 7. Despair over Philosophy
In ordinary life the highest philosophy is no better than common understanding
1. Philosophy / E. Nature of Metaphysics / 1. Nature of Metaphysics
Metaphysics is generating a priori knowledge by intuition and concepts, leading to the synthetic
1. Philosophy / E. Nature of Metaphysics / 2. Possibility of Metaphysics
Metaphysics might do better to match objects to our cognition (and not start with the objects)
You just can't stop metaphysical speculation, in any mature mind
The voyage of reason may go only as far as the coastline of experience reaches
Kant turned metaphysics into epistemology, ignoring Aristotle's 'being qua being' [Macdonald]
1. Philosophy / E. Nature of Metaphysics / 3. Metaphysical Systems
It is still possible to largely accept Kant as a whole (where others must be dismantled) [Gardner]
Human reason considers all knowledge as belonging to a possible system
Reason has two separate objects, morality and freedom, and nature, which ultimately unite
1. Philosophy / E. Nature of Metaphysics / 5. Metaphysics beyond Science
Kant showed that theoretical reason cannot give anwers to speculative metaphysics [Korsgaard]
A priori metaphysics is fond of basic unchanging entities like God, the soul, Forms, atoms… [Fogelin]
A dove cutting through the air, might think it could fly better in airless space (which Plato attempted)
Metaphysics goes beyond the empirical, so doesn't need examples
Metaphysics is just a priori universal principles of physics
1. Philosophy / E. Nature of Metaphysics / 6. Metaphysics as Conceptual
For any subject, its system of non-experiential concepts needs a metaphysics
1. Philosophy / E. Nature of Metaphysics / 7. Against Metaphysics
Kant exposed the illusions of reason in the Transcendental Dialectic [Fraassen]
1. Philosophy / F. Analytic Philosophy / 1. Analysis
Analysis is becoming self-conscious about our concepts
1. Philosophy / F. Analytic Philosophy / 2. Conceptual Analysis
Our reason mostly analyses concepts we already have of objects
Analysis of our concepts is merely a preparation for proper a priori metaphysics
2. Reason / A. Nature of Reason / 1. On Reason
In reason things can only begin if they are voluntary
The boundaries of reason can only be determined a priori
If I know the earth is a sphere, and I am on it, I can work out its area from a small part
Philosophers should not offer multiple proofs - suggesting the weakness of each of them
2. Reason / A. Nature of Reason / 3. Pure Reason
Pure reason deals with concepts in the understanding, not with objects
Reason hates to be limited in its speculations
Pure reason exists outside of time
Pure reason is only concerned with itself because it deals with understandings, not objects
Reason enables the unbounded extension of our rules and intentions
2. Reason / A. Nature of Reason / 4. Aims of Reason
Reason keeps asking why until explanation is complete [Korsgaard]
Religion and legislation can only be respected if they accept free and public examination
All objections are dogmatic (against propositions), or critical (against proofs), or sceptical
The hallmark of rationality is setting itself an end
2. Reason / B. Laws of Thought / 2. Sufficient Reason
The principle of sufficient reason is the ground of possible experience in time
Proof of the principle of sufficient reason cannot be found
2. Reason / C. Styles of Reason / 1. Dialectic
The free dialectic opposition of arguments is an invaluable part of the sceptical method
2. Reason / D. Definition / 2. Aims of Definition
Definitions exhibit the exhaustive concept of a thing within its boundaries
A simplification which is complete constitutes a definition
2. Reason / D. Definition / 12. Against Definition
No a priori concept can be defined
2. Reason / E. Argument / 2. Transcendental Argument
Transcendental ideas require unity of the subject, conditions of appearance, and objects of thought
2. Reason / E. Argument / 3. Analogy
Philosophical examples rarely fit rules properly, and lead to inflexibility
3. Truth / C. Correspondence Truth / 1. Correspondence Truth
We must presuppose that truth is agreement of cognition with its objects
4. Formal Logic / B. Propositional Logic PL / 2. Tools of Propositional Logic / e. Axioms of PL
Philosophy has no axioms, as it is just rational cognition of concepts
5. Theory of Logic / A. Overview of Logic / 1. Overview of Logic
Logic has precise boundaries, and is the formal rules for all thinking
5. Theory of Logic / I. Semantics of Logic / 2. Formal Truth
There must be a general content-free account of truth in the rules of logic
5. Theory of Logic / L. Paradox / 3. Antinomies
The battle of the antinomies is usually won by the attacker, and lost by any defender
6. Mathematics / A. Nature of Mathematics / 1. Mathematics
Mathematics cannot proceed just by the analysis of concepts
6. Mathematics / A. Nature of Mathematics / 2. Geometry
Geometry studies the Euclidean space that dictates how we perceive things [Shapiro]
Geometry rests on our intuition of space
Geometry is not analytic, because a line's being 'straight' is a quality
Geometry would just be an idle game without its connection to our intuition
Geometrical truth comes from a general schema abstracted from a particular object [Burge]
6. Mathematics / A. Nature of Mathematics / 3. Nature of Numbers / a. Numbers
Numbers are formed by addition of units in time
6. Mathematics / A. Nature of Mathematics / 4. Using Numbers / f. Arithmetic
7+5 = 12 is not analytic, because no analysis of 7+5 will reveal the concept of 12
6. Mathematics / A. Nature of Mathematics / 5. The Infinite / c. Potential infinite
Kant only accepts potential infinity, not actual infinity [Brown,JR]
6. Mathematics / B. Foundations for Mathematics / 3. Axioms for Geometry
Euclid's could be the only viable geometry, if rejection of the parallel line postulate doesn't lead to a contradiction [Benardete,JA]
6. Mathematics / B. Foundations for Mathematics / 4. Axioms for Number / a. Axioms for numbers
Kant suggested that arithmetic has no axioms [Shapiro]
Axioms ought to be synthetic a priori propositions
6. Mathematics / C. Sources of Mathematics / 2. Intuition of Mathematics
Kant's intuitions struggle to judge relevance, impossibility and exactness [Kitcher]
Mathematics can only start from an a priori intuition which is not empirical but pure
All necessary mathematical judgements are based on intuitions of space and time
6. Mathematics / C. Sources of Mathematics / 4. Mathematical Empiricism / a. Mathematical empiricism
Maths is a priori, but without its relation to empirical objects it is meaningless
6. Mathematics / C. Sources of Mathematics / 4. Mathematical Empiricism / c. Against mathematical empiricism
Mathematics cannot be empirical because it is necessary, and that has to be a priori
6. Mathematics / C. Sources of Mathematics / 6. Logicism / d. Logicism critique
Kant taught that mathematics is independent of logic, and cannot be grounded in it [Hilbert]
If 7+5=12 is analytic, then an infinity of other ways to reach 12 have to be analytic [Dancy,J]
7. Existence / A. Nature of Existence / 1. Nature of Existence
Saying a thing 'is' adds nothing to it - otherwise if my concept exists, it isn't the same as my concept
7. Existence / D. Theories of Reality / 1. Realism
Kant is read as the phenomena being 'contrained' by the noumenon, or 'free-floating' [Talbot]
7. Existence / D. Theories of Reality / 3. Anti-realism
Without the subject or the senses, space and time vanish, as their appearances disappear
Even the most perfect intuition gets no closer to things in themselves
7. Existence / E. Categories / 1. Categories
Categories are general concepts of objects, which determine the way in which they are experienced
Categories are necessary, so can't be implanted in us to agree with natural laws
7. Existence / E. Categories / 2. Categorisation
Does Kant say the mind imposes categories, or that it restricts us to them? [Rowlands]
8. Modes of Existence / C. Powers and Dispositions / 7. Against Powers
Kant claims causal powers are relational rather than intrinsic [Bayne]
9. Objects / A. Existence of Objects / 1. Physical Objects
Objects in themselves are not known to us at all
The a priori concept of objects in general is the ground of experience
9. Objects / B. Unity of Objects / 2. Substance / a. Substance
A substance could exist as a subject, but not as a mere predicate
9. Objects / B. Unity of Objects / 2. Substance / d. Substance defined
All appearances need substance, as that which persists through change
Substance must exist, as the persisting substratum of the process of change
9. Objects / B. Unity of Objects / 2. Substance / e. Substance critique
The substance, once the predicates are removed, remains unknown to us
9. Objects / E. Objects over Time / 1. Objects over Time
An a priori principle of persistence anticipates all experience
9. Objects / F. Identity among Objects / 7. Indiscernible Objects
The Identity of Indiscernibles is true of concepts with identical properties, but not of particulars [Jolley]
If we ignore differences between water drops, we still distinguish them by their location
10. Modality / A. Necessity / 1. Types of Modality
Modalities do not augment our concepts; they express their relation to cognition
10. Modality / A. Necessity / 7. Natural Necessity
Natural necessity is the unconditioned necessity of appearances
10. Modality / B. Possibility / 1. Possibility
Is the possible greater than the actual, and the actual greater than the necessary?
A concept is logically possible if non-contradictory (but may not be actually possible)
The analytic mark of possibility is that it does not generate a contradiction
That a concept is not self-contradictory does not make what it represents possible
10. Modality / C. Sources of Modality / 1. Sources of Necessity
Necessity cannot be extracted from an empirical proposition
10. Modality / C. Sources of Modality / 4. Necessity from Concepts
Formal experience conditions show what is possible, and general conditions what is necessary
10. Modality / D. Knowledge of Modality / 1. A Priori Necessary
Necessity is always knowable a priori, and what is known a priori is always necessary [Schroeter]
For Kant metaphysics must be necessary, so a priori, so can't be justified by experience [Maudlin]
Maths must be a priori because it is necessary, and that cannot be derived from experience
11. Knowledge Aims / A. Knowledge / 1. Knowledge
Knowledge is threefold: apprehension, reproduction by imagination, recognition by concepts [Bowie]
Knowledge begins with intuitions, moves to concepts, and ends with ideas
11. Knowledge Aims / A. Knowledge / 2. Understanding
Kant showed that the understanding (unlike reason) concerns what is finite and conditioned [Hegel]
Understanding essentially involves singular elements [Burge]
Reason is distinct from understanding, and is the faculty of rules or principles
11. Knowledge Aims / A. Knowledge / 4. Belief / a. Beliefs
Opinion is subjectively and objectively insufficient; belief is subjective but not objective; knowledge is both
11. Knowledge Aims / B. Certain Knowledge / 6. Cogito Critique
'I think therefore I am' is an identity, not an inference (as there is no major premise)
11. Knowledge Aims / C. Knowing Reality / 2. Phenomenalism
There are possible inhabitants of the moon, but they are just possible experiences
11. Knowledge Aims / C. Knowing Reality / 3. Idealism
Objects having to be experiencable is not the same as full idealism [Gardner]
I admit there are bodies outside us
If we disappeared, then all relations of objects, and time and space themselves, disappear too
We cannot know things in themselves, but are confined to appearances
We have proved that bodies are appearances of the outer senses, not things in themselves
11. Knowledge Aims / C. Knowing Reality / 4. Transcendental Idealism
In Kantian idealism, objects fit understanding, not vice versa [Feuerbach]
Kant's idealism is a limited idealism based on the viewpoint of empiricism [Feuerbach]
For Kant experience is either structured like reality, or generates reality's structure [Gardner]
'Transcendental' is not beyond experience, but a prerequisite of experience
'Transcendental' cognition concerns what can be known a priori of its mode
12. Knowledge Sources / A. A Priori Knowledge / 1. Nature of the A Priori
Kant's shift of view enables us to see a priority in terms of mental capacity, not truth and propositions [Burge]
A priori knowledge is limited to objects of possible experience [Jolley]
A priori knowledge occurs absolutely independently of all experience
One sort of a priori knowledge just analyses given concepts, but another ventures further
12. Knowledge Sources / A. A Priori Knowledge / 2. Self-Evidence
Experienceless bodies have space; propertyless bodies have substance; this must be seen a priori
12. Knowledge Sources / A. A Priori Knowledge / 3. Innate Knowledge / a. Innate knowledge
We are equipped with the a priori intuitions needed for the concept of right
12. Knowledge Sources / A. A Priori Knowledge / 4. A Priori as Necessities
Two plus two objects make four objects even if experience is impossible, so Kant is wrong [Russell]
Propositions involving necessity are a priori, and pure a priori if they only derive from other necessities
The apriori is independent of its sources, and marked by necessity and generality [Burge]
A priori knowledge is indispensable for the possibility and certainty of experience
12. Knowledge Sources / A. A Priori Knowledge / 5. A Priori Synthetic
That force and counter-force are equal is necessary, and a priori synthetic
A priori synthetic knowledge is only of appearances, not of things in themselves
That a straight line is the shortest is synthetic, as straight does not imply any quantity
The real problem of pure reason is: how are a priori synthetic judgments possible?
That two lines cannot enclose a space is an intuitive a priori synthetic proposition
Are a priori concepts necessary as a precondition for something to be an object?
7+5=12 is not analytic, because 12 is not contained in 7 or 5 or their combination
We possess synthetic a priori knowledge in our principles which anticipate experience
Kant bases the synthetic a priori on the categories of oneness and manyness [Bowie]
Kant showed that we have a priori knowledge which is not purely analytic [Russell]
We can think of 7 and 5 without 12, but it is still a contradiction to deny 7+5=12 [Ayer]
Seeing that only one parallel can be drawn to a line through a given point is clearly synthetic a priori [Benardete,JA]
The categorical imperative is a practical synthetic a priori proposition
12. Knowledge Sources / A. A Priori Knowledge / 6. A Priori from Reason
Reason contains within itself certain underived concepts and principles
12. Knowledge Sources / A. A Priori Knowledge / 7. A Priori from Convention
If, as Kant says, arithmetic and logic are contributed by us, they could change if we did [Russell]
12. Knowledge Sources / A. A Priori Knowledge / 8. A Priori as Analytic
No analysis of the sum of seven and five will in itself reveal twelve
12. Knowledge Sources / A. A Priori Knowledge / 9. A Priori from Concepts
A priori intuitions can only concern the objects of our senses
With large numbers it is obvious that we could never find the sum by analysing the concepts
For Kant analytic knowledge needs complex concepts, but the a priori can rest on the simple [Coffa]
12. Knowledge Sources / A. A Priori Knowledge / 10. A Priori as Subjective
A priori intuition of objects is only possible by containing the form of my sensibility
A priori the understanding can only anticipate possible experiences
12. Knowledge Sources / B. Perception / 2. Qualities in Perception / b. Primary/secondary
We know the shape of a cone from its concept, but we don't know its colour
12. Knowledge Sources / B. Perception / 2. Qualities in Perception / d. Secondary qualities
I can make no sense of the red experience being similar to the quality in the object
Colours and tastes are not qualities of things, but alterations of the subject
12. Knowledge Sources / B. Perception / 2. Qualities in Perception / e. Primary/secondary critique
I count the primary features of things (as well as the secondary ones) as mere appearances
12. Knowledge Sources / B. Perception / 3. Representation
I can't intuit a present thing in itself, because the properties can't enter my representations
12. Knowledge Sources / B. Perception / 5. Interpretation
Kant says the cognitive and sensory elements in experience can't be separated [Dancy,J]
12. Knowledge Sources / C. Rationalism / 1. Rationalism
We cannot represent objects unless we combine concepts with intuitions
12. Knowledge Sources / D. Empiricism / 4. Pro-Empiricism
For Kant, our conceptual scheme is disastrous when it reaches beyond experience [Fogelin]
Appearance gives truth, as long as it is only used within experience
12. Knowledge Sources / D. Empiricism / 5. Empiricism Critique
Understanding has no intuitions, and senses no thought, so knowledge needs their unity
Sensations are a posteriori, but that they come in degrees is known a priori
12. Knowledge Sources / E. Direct Knowledge / 1. Intuition
Intuition is a representation that depends on the presence of the object
Kantian intuitions are of particulars, and they give immediate knowledge [Shapiro]
13. Knowledge Criteria / A. Justification Problems / 3. Internal or External / b. Pro-externalism
If we knew what we know, we would be astonished
13. Knowledge Criteria / B. Internal Justification / 4. Foundationalism / f. Foundationalism critique
A sufficient but general sign of truth cannot possibly be provided
13. Knowledge Criteria / B. Internal Justification / 5. Coherentism / a. Coherence as justification
Kant says knowledge is when our representations sufficiently conform to our concepts [Critchley]
13. Knowledge Criteria / D. Scepticism / 1. Scepticism
Kant thought he had refuted scepticism, but his critics say he is a sceptic, for rejecting reality [O'Grady]
13. Knowledge Criteria / D. Scepticism / 6. Scepticism Critique
Scepticism is absurd in maths, where there are no hidden false assertions
Scepticism is the euthanasia of pure reason
13. Knowledge Criteria / E. Relativism / 1. Relativism
For Kant, experience is relative to a scheme, but there are no further possible schemes [Fogelin]
14. Science / A. Basis of Science / 6. Falsification
If a proposition implies any false consequences, then it is false
14. Science / D. Explanation / 2. Types of Explanation / j. Explanations by reduction
Science is the reduction of diverse forces and powers to a smaller number that explain them
15. Nature of Minds / A. Nature of Mind / 3. Mental Causation
Freedom and natural necessity do not contradict, as they relate to different conditions
15. Nature of Minds / B. Features of Minds / 1. Consciousness / f. Higher-order thought
Kant thought that consciousness depends on self-consciousness ('apperception') [Crane]
15. Nature of Minds / C. Capacities of Minds / 1. Faculties
Kant's only answer as to how synthetic a priori judgements are possible was that we have a 'faculty'! [Nietzsche]
Judgements which are essentially and strictly universal reveal our faculty of a priori cognition
Reason has logical and transcendental faculties
16. Persons / A. Concept of a Person / 4. Persons as Agents
Within nature man is unimportant, but as moral person he is above any price
16. Persons / B. Nature of the Self / 3. Self as Non-physical
I can express the motion of my body in a single point, but that doesn't mean it is a simple substance
16. Persons / B. Nature of the Self / 4. Presupposition of Self
To some extent we must view ourselves as noumena [Korsgaard]
Representation would be impossible without the 'I think' that accompanies it
16. Persons / B. Nature of the Self / 7. Self and Body / a. Self needs body
We need an account of the self based on rational principles, to avoid materialism
16. Persons / C. Self-Awareness / 2. Knowing the Self
Self-knowledge can only be inner sensation, and thus appearance
16. Persons / C. Self-Awareness / 3. Limits of Introspection
I have no cognition of myself as I am, but only as I appear to myself
16. Persons / D. Continuity of the Self / 2. Mental Continuity / c. Inadequacy of mental continuity
As balls communicate motion, so substances could communicate consciousness, but not retain identity
I can only determine my existence in time via external things
16. Persons / D. Continuity of the Self / 3. Reference of 'I'
For Kant the self is a purely formal idea, not a substance [Lockwood]
16. Persons / D. Continuity of the Self / 7. Self and Thinking
Mental representations would not be mine if they did not belong to a unified self-consciousness
16. Persons / F. Free Will / 1. Nature of Free Will
We must assume an absolute causal spontaneity beginning from itself
Free will is a kind of causality which works independently of other causes
16. Persons / F. Free Will / 2. Sources of Free Will
The manifest will in the world of phenomena has to conform to the laws of nature
We shall never be able to comprehend how freedom is possible
16. Persons / F. Free Will / 4. For Free Will
We must be free, because we can act against our strongest desires [Korsgaard]
If there is a first beginning, there can be other sequences initiated from nothing
We cannot conceive of reason as being externally controlled
16. Persons / F. Free Will / 5. Against Free Will
Kant made the political will into a pure self-determined "free" will [Marx/Engels]
17. Mind and Body / A. Mind-Body Dualism / 1. Dualism
Soul and body connect physically, or by harmony, or by assistance
17. Mind and Body / A. Mind-Body Dualism / 8. Dualism of Mind Critique
Our concept of an incorporeal nature is merely negative
Neither materialism nor spiritualism can reveal the separate existence of the soul
18. Thought / A. Modes of Thought / 1. Thought
A pure concept of the understanding can never become an image
18. Thought / A. Modes of Thought / 6. Rationality
Kantian 'intuition' is the bridge between pure reason and its application to sense experiences [Friend]
18. Thought / B. Mechanics of Thought / 2. Categories of Understanding
Kant says we can describe the categories of thought, but Hegel claims to deduce them [Meillassoux]
Four categories of concept: Quantity, Quality, Relation and Modality
The categories are objectively valid, because they make experience possible
Categories are concepts that prescribe laws a priori to appearances
18. Thought / D. Concepts / 1. Concepts / a. Nature of concepts
Either experience creates concepts, or concepts make experience possible
Reason generates no concepts, but frees them from their link to experience in the understanding
All human cognition is through concepts
Thoughts without content are empty, intuitions without concepts are blind
18. Thought / D. Concepts / 2. Origin of Concepts / a. Origin of concepts
Some concepts can be made a priori, which are general thoughts of objects, like quantity or cause
18. Thought / D. Concepts / 4. Structure of Concepts / b. Analysis of concepts
Kant implies that concepts have analysable parts [Shapiro]
19. Language / E. Analyticity / 1. Analytic Propositions
Analytic judgements say clearly what was in the concept of the subject
Non-subject/predicate tautologies won't fit Kant's definition of analyticity [Shapiro]
How can bachelor 'contain' unmarried man? Are all analytic truths in subject-predicate form? [Miller,A]
Analytic judgement rests on contradiction, since the predicate cannot be denied of the subject
If the predicate is contained in the subject of a judgement, it is analytic; otherwise synthetic
Analytic judgements clarify, by analysing the subject into its component predicates
20. Action / B. Preliminaries of Action / 2. Willed Action / a. Will to Act
Can pure reason determine the will, or are empirical conditions relevant?
The will is the faculty of purposes, which guide desires according to principles
20. Action / C. Motives for Action / 3. Acting on Reason / a. Practical reason
The sole objects of practical reason are the good and the evil
General rules of action also need a judgement about when to apply them
21. Aesthetics / A. Aesthetic Experience / 1. Aesthetics
Kant gave form and status to aesthetics, and Hegel gave it content [Scruton]
21. Aesthetics / A. Aesthetic Experience / 2. Aesthetic Attitude
The aesthetic attitude is a matter of disinterestedness [Wollheim]
Only rational beings can experience beauty [Scruton]
21. Aesthetics / A. Aesthetic Experience / 3. Taste
With respect to the senses, taste is an entirely personal matter
When we judge beauty, it isn't just personal; we judge on behalf of everybody
Saying everyone has their own taste destroys the very idea of taste
21. Aesthetics / A. Aesthetic Experience / 4. Beauty
Kant saw beauty as a sort of disinterested pleasure, which has become separate from the good [Taylor,C]
Beauty is only judged in pure contemplation, and not with something else at stake
21. Aesthetics / A. Aesthetic Experience / 6. The Sublime
The sublime is a moral experience [Gardner]
21. Aesthetics / C. Artistic Issues / 5. Objectivism in Art
Aesthetic values are not objectively valid, but we must treat them as if they are [Scruton]
The judgement of beauty is not cognitive, but relates, via imagination, to pleasurable feelings
22. Metaethics / A. Value / 1. Nature of Value / a. Nature of value
Kant focuses exclusively on human values, and neglects cultural and personal values [Kekes]
22. Metaethics / A. Value / 1. Nature of Value / b. Fact and value
We cannot derive moral laws from experience, as it is the mother of illusion
22. Metaethics / A. Value / 1. Nature of Value / d. Subjective value
Our rational choices confer value, arising from the sense that we ourselves are important [Korsgaard]
Values are created by human choices, and are not some intrinsic quality, out there [Berlin]
22. Metaethics / A. Value / 1. Nature of Value / f. Ultimate value
Kant may rate two things as finally valuable: having a good will, and deserving happiness [Orsi]
The good will is unconditionally good, because it is the only possible source of value [Korsgaard]
Good or evil cannot be a thing, but only a maxim of action, making the person good or evil
What is contemplated must have a higher value than contemplation [Korsgaard]
Only a good will can give man's being, and hence the world, a final purpose
The love of man is required in order to present the world as a beautiful and perfect moral whole
All morality directs the will to love of others' ends, and respect for others' rights
22. Metaethics / A. Value / 2. Values / a. Normativity
We only understand what exists, and can find no sign of what ought to be in nature
22. Metaethics / A. Value / 2. Values / c. Altruism
Reverence is awareness of a value which demolishes my self-love
We may claim noble motives, but we cannot penetrate our secret impulses
22. Metaethics / A. Value / 2. Values / d. Love
The duty of love is to makes the ends of others one's own
22. Metaethics / B. The Good / 1. Goodness / g. Consequentialism
The good of an action is in the mind of the doer, not the consequences
A good will is not good because of what it achieves
Morality involves duty and respect for law, not love of the outcome
22. Metaethics / B. The Good / 2. Happiness / a. Nature of happiness
Our happiness is all that matters, not as a sensation, but as satisfaction with our whole existence
Happiness is the condition of a rational being for whom everything goes as they wish
22. Metaethics / B. The Good / 2. Happiness / c. Value of happiness
Morality is not about making ourselves happy, but about being worthy of happiness
Duty does not aim at an end, but gives rise to universal happiness as aim of the will
22. Metaethics / C. Ethics Foundations / 1. Nature of Ethics / a. Preconditions for ethics
Without God, creation and free will, morality would be empty
Duty is impossible without prior moral feeling, conscience, love and self-respect
22. Metaethics / C. Ethics Foundations / 2. Source of Ethics / b. Rational ethics
Kant united religion and philosophy, by basing obedience to law on reason instead of faith [Taylor,R]
The categorical imperative says nothing about what our activities and ends should be [MacIntyre]
Only human reason can confer value on our choices [Korsgaard]
22. Metaethics / C. Ethics Foundations / 2. Source of Ethics / h. Expressivism
People cannot come to morality through feeling, because morality must not be sensuous
Moral principles do not involve feelings
22. Metaethics / C. Ethics Foundations / 2. Source of Ethics / j. Ethics by convention
We must only value what others find acceptable [Korsgaard]
23. Ethics / B. Contract Ethics / 2. Golden Rule
The 'golden rule' cannot be a universal law as it implies no duties
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 1. Virtue Theory / a. Nature of virtue
Virtue lets a rational being make universal law, and share in the kingdom of ends
The highest worth for human beings lies in dispositions, not just actions
Virtue is the supreme state of our pursuit of happiness, and so is supreme good
A duty of virtue is a duty which is also an end
Virtue is strong maxims for duty
The supreme principle of virtue is to find universal laws for ends
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 1. Virtue Theory / d. Virtue theory critique
Kant thinks virtue becomes passive, and hence morally unaccountable [Annas]
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 2. Elements of Virtue Theory / c. Motivation for virtue
Moral law is holy, and the best we can do is achieve virtue through respect for the law
We are obliged to show the social virtues, but at least they make a virtuous disposition fashionable
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 2. Elements of Virtue Theory / d. Teaching virtue
If virtue becomes a habit, that is a loss of the freedom needed for adopting maxims
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 2. Elements of Virtue Theory / f. The Mean
How do we distinguish a mean? The extremes can involve quite different maxims
If virtue is the mean between vices, then virtue is just the vanishing of vice
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 2. Elements of Virtue Theory / j. Unity of virtue
There is one principle of virtues; the virtues are distinguished by their objects
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 3. Virtues / f. Compassion
Generosity and pity are vices, because they falsely imply one person's superiority to another [Berlin]
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 3. Virtues / h. Respect
Kantian respect is for humanity and reason (not from love or sympathy or solidarity) [Sandel]
We can love without respect, and show respect without love
Respect is limiting our self-esteem by attending to the human dignity of other persons
Disrespect is using a person as a mere means to my own ends
Love urges us to get closer to people, but respect to keep our distance
Respect is purely negative (of not exalting oneself over others), and is thus a duty of Right
We must respect the humanity even in a vicious criminal
23. Ethics / D. Deontological Ethics / 1. Deontology
If 'maxims' are deeper underlying intentions, Kant can be read as a virtue theorist [Statman]
Kant follows Rousseau in defining freedom and morality in terms of each other [Taylor,C]
We can ask how rational goodness is, but also why is rationality good [Putnam]
Other causes can produce nice results, so morality must consist in the law, found only in rational beings
The only purely good thing is a good will
The will is good if its universalised maxim is never in conflict with itself
It is basic that moral actions must be done from duty
23. Ethics / D. Deontological Ethics / 2. Duty
A categorical imperative sees an action as necessary purely for its own sake
There are no imperatives for a holy will, as the will is in harmony with moral law
Kant was happy with 'good will', even if it had no result [Marx/Engels]
Kant has to attribute high moral worth to some deeply unattractive human lives [Graham]
Kantian duty seems to imply conformism with authority [MacIntyre]
Men are subject to laws which are both self-made and universal
Telling the truth from duty is quite different from doing so to avoid inconvenience
Dutiful actions are judged not by purpose, but by the maxim followed
It can't be a duty to strive after the impossible
23. Ethics / D. Deontological Ethics / 3. Universalisability
Almost any precept can be consistently universalized [MacIntyre]
No one would lend money unless a universal law made it secure, even after death
Universality determines the will, and hence extends self-love into altruism
23. Ethics / D. Deontological Ethics / 4. Categorical Imperative
The categorical imperative smells of cruelty [Nietzsche]
The intuition behind the categorical imperative is that one ought not to make an exception of oneself [Finlayson]
Universalising a maxim needs to first stipulate the right description for the action [Anscombe]
Why couldn't all rational beings accept outrageously immoral rules of conduct? [Mill]
Act as if your maxim were to become a universal law of nature
Suicide, false promises, neglected talent, and lack of charity all involve contradictions of principle [PG]
Act according to a maxim you can will as a universal law
If lying were the universal law it would make promises impossible
The categorical imperative will not suggest maxims suitable for testing [MacIntyre]
I can universalize a selfish maxim, if it is expressed in a way that only applies to me [MacIntyre]
23. Ethics / D. Deontological Ethics / 5. Persons as Ends
Always treat humanity as an end and never as a means only
Rational beings necessarily conceive their own existence as an end in itself
Everyone (even God) must treat rational beings as ends in themselves, and not just as means
23. Ethics / D. Deontological Ethics / 6. Motivation for Duty
Moral blame is based on reason, since a reason is a cause which should have been followed
Moral laws are commands, which must involve promises and threats, which only God could provide
For Kant, even a person who lacks all sympathy for others still has a motive for benevolence [Hursthouse]
Only a good will makes us worthy of happiness
If we are required to give moral thought the highest priority, this gives morality no content [Williams,B]
If Kant lives by self-administered laws, this is as feeble as self-administered punishments [Kierkegaard]
The function of reason is to produce a good will
Actions where people spread happiness because they enjoy it have no genuine moral worth
Our inclinations are not innately desirable; in fact most rational beings would like to be rid of them
A holy will is incapable of any maxims which conflict with the moral law
Reason cannot solve the problem of why a law should motivate the will
The will's motive is the absolute law itself, and moral feeling is receptivity to law
23. Ethics / F. Existentialism / 5. Existence-Essence
For Kant, essence is mental and a mere idea, and existence is the senses and mere appearance [Feuerbach]
24. Applied Ethics / B. Moral Rights / 3. Animal Rights
Non-rational beings only have a relative value, as means rather than as ends
Men can only have duties to those who qualify as persons
Cruelty to animals is bad because it dulls our empathy for pain in humans
24. Applied Ethics / C. Death Issues / 4. Suicide
The maxim for suicide is committed to the value of life, and is thus contradictory
A permanent natural order could not universalise a rule permitting suicide
25. Society / A. State of Nature / 1. A People / a. Human distinctiveness
Man is both social, and unsociable
Humans are distinguished from animals by their capacity to set themselves any sort of end
25. Society / A. State of Nature / 1. A People / b. The natural life
The state of nature always involves the threat of war
25. Society / A. State of Nature / 4. Natural Rights / a. Natural rights
Rational beings have a right to share in the end of an action, not just be part of the means
There can be no restraints on freedom if reason does not reveal some basic rights
A power-based state of nature may not be unjust, but there is no justice without competent judges
25. Society / A. State of Nature / 4. Natural Rights / b. Alienating rights
In the contract people lose their rights, but immediately regain them, in the new commonwealth
25. Society / B. The State / 2. State Legitimacy / d. Social contract
Personal contracts are for some end, but a civil state contract involves a duty to share
There must be a unanimous contract that citizens accept majority decisions
A contract is theoretical, but it can guide rulers to make laws which the whole people will accept
Kant made the social contract international and cosmopolitan [Oksala]
25. Society / B. The State / 2. State Legitimacy / e. General will
A law is unjust if the whole people could not possibly agree to it
The a priori general will of a people shows what is right
25. Society / B. The State / 3. Constitutions
Each nation should, from self-interest, join an international security constitution
A constitution must always be improved when necessary
25. Society / B. The State / 4. Citizenship
A citizen must control his own life, and possess property or an important skill
25. Society / B. The State / 5. Leaders / a. Autocracy
Monarchs have the highest power; autocrats have complete power
25. Society / B. The State / 5. Leaders / d. Elites
Hereditary nobility has not been earned, and probably won't be earned
25. Society / B. The State / 8. Religion in Society
The church has a political role, by offering a supreme power over people
25. Society / C. Social Justice / 1. Social Justice
The highest ideal of social progress is a universal cosmopolitan existence
Human life is pointless without justice
25. Society / C. Social Justice / 2. Social Freedom / c. Free speech
The existence of reason depends on the freedom of citizens to agree, doubt and veto ideas
Enlightenment requires the free use of reason in the public realm
25. Society / C. Social Justice / 2. Social Freedom / d. Free market
Kant is the father of the notion of exploitation as an evil [Berlin]
25. Society / C. Social Justice / 3. Social Equality / c. Legal equality
Equality is where you cannot impose a legal obligation you yourself wouldn't endure
Equality is not being bound in ways you cannot bind others
25. Society / C. Social Justice / 3. Social Equality / d. Economic equality
Citizens can rise to any rank that talent, effort and luck can achieve
25. Society / C. Social Justice / 4. Legal Rights / a. Basis of rights
There are political and inter-national rights, but also universal cosmopolitan rights
There is now a growing universal community, and violations of rights are felt everywhere
25. Society / C. Social Justice / 4. Legal Rights / b. Inalienable rights
You can't make a contract renouncing your right to make contracts!
25. Society / C. Social Justice / 4. Legal Rights / c. Property rights
If someone has largely made something, then they own it
25. Society / C. Social Justice / 5. Right to Punish / a. Right to punish
Justice asserts the death penalty for murder, from a priori laws
25. Society / C. Social Justice / 5. Right to Punish / b. Retribution for crime
Retributive punishment is better than being sent to hospital for your crimes [Berlin]
Violation of rights deserves punishment, which is vengeance, rather than restitution
25. Society / D. Political Doctrines / 6. Liberalism
An obvious idea is a constitution based on maximum mutual freedom for citizens
Our aim is a constitution which combines maximum freedom with strong restraint
The vitality of business needs maximum freedom (while avoiding harm to others)
A lawful civil state must embody freedom, equality and independence for its members
Actions are right if the maxim respects universal mutual freedoms
25. Society / D. Political Doctrines / 13. Feminism
Women have no role in politics
25. Society / E. State Functions / 1. The Law / b. Natural law
Kant completed Grotius's project of a non-religious basis for natural law [Scruton]
25. Society / E. State Functions / 5. War
The people (who have to fight) and not the head of state should declare a war
Hiring soldiers is to use them as instruments, ignoring their personal rights
Some trust in the enemy is needed during wartime, or peace would be impossible
26. Natural Theory / A. Speculations on Nature / 1. Nature
Kant identifies nature with the scientific picture of it as the realm of law [McDowell]
26. Natural Theory / A. Speculations on Nature / 2. Natural Purpose / b. Limited purposes
Reason must assume as necessary that everything in a living organism has a proportionate purpose
Without men creation would be in vain, and without final purpose
26. Natural Theory / A. Speculations on Nature / 7. Later Matter Theories / c. Matter as extension
Extension and impenetrability together make the concept of matter
26. Natural Theory / C. Causation / 8. Particular Causation / b. Causal relata
A ball denting a pillow seems like simultaneous cause and effect, though time identifies which is cause
26. Natural Theory / C. Causation / 9. General Causation / a. Constant conjunction
Appearances give rules of what usually happens, but cause involves necessity
26. Natural Theory / C. Causation / 9. General Causation / b. Nomological causation
The concept of causality entails laws; random causality is a contradiction [Korsgaard]
We judge causation by relating events together by some law of nature [Mares]
Experience is only possible because we subject appearances to causal laws
26. Natural Theory / C. Causation / 9. General Causation / d. Causal necessity
Causation obviously involves necessity, so it cannot just be frequent association
26. Natural Theory / D. Laws of Nature / 8. Scientific Essentialism / b. Scientific necessity
For Kant the laws must be necessary, because contingency would destroy representation [Meillassoux]
Kant fails to prove the necessity of laws, because his reasoning about chance is over-ambitious [Meillassoux]
27. Natural Reality / C. Space-Time / 1. Space / b. Space
Space must have three dimensions, because only three lines can meet at right angles
We can't learn of space through experience; experience of space needs its representation
Space is an a priori necessary basic intuition, as we cannot imagine its absence
27. Natural Reality / C. Space-Time / 2. Time / a. Time
That times cannot be simultaneous is synthetic, so it is known by intuition, not analysis
The three modes of time are persistence, succession and simultaneity
If time involved succession, we must think of another time in which succession occurs
27. Natural Reality / C. Space-Time / 2. Time / j. Time as subjective
One can never imagine appearances without time, so it is given a priori
27. Natural Reality / C. Space-Time / 3. Space-Time
If all empirical sensation of bodies is removed, space and time are still left
If space and time exist absolutely, we must assume to existence of two pointless non-entities
28. God / A. Divine Nature / 6. Divine Morality / b. Euthyphro question
We don't accept duties as coming from God, but assume they are divine because they are duties
We can only know we should obey God if we already have moral standards for judging God [MacIntyre]
We judge God to be good by a priori standards of moral perfection
Obligation does not rest on the existence of God, but on the autonomy of reason
28. God / B. Proving God / 1. Proof of God
Only three proofs of God: the physico-theological (evidence), the cosmological (existence), the ontological (a priori)
28. God / B. Proving God / 2. Proofs of Reason / b. Ontological Proof critique
Kant never denied that 'exist' could be a predicate - only that it didn't enlarge concepts [Fitting/Mendelsohn]
Existence is merely derived from the word 'is' (rather than being a predicate) [Orenstein]
Modern logic says (with Kant) that existence is not a predicate, because it has been reclassified as a quantifier [Benardete,JA]
If 'this exists' is analytic, either the thing is a thought, or you have presupposed its existence
Is "This thing exists" analytic or synthetic?
If an existential proposition is synthetic, you must be able to cancel its predicate without contradiction
Being is not a real predicate, that adds something to a concept
You add nothing to the concept of God or coins if you say they exist
28. God / B. Proving God / 2. Proofs of Reason / c. Moral Argument
God is not proved by reason, but is a postulate of moral thinking [Davies,B]
We have to postulate something outside nature which makes happiness coincide with morality
Belief in justice requires belief in a place for justice (heaven), a time (eternity), and a cause (God) [PG]
28. God / B. Proving God / 3. Proofs of Evidence / a. Cosmological Proof
If you prove God cosmologically, by a regress in the sequences of causes, you can't abandon causes at the end
To know if this world must have been created by God, we would need to know all other possible worlds
28. God / B. Proving God / 3. Proofs of Evidence / c. Teleological Proof critique
Using God to explain nature is referring to something inconceivable to explain what is in front of you
From our limited knowledge we can infer great virtues in God, but not ultimate ones
28. God / C. Attitudes to God / 4. God Reflects Humanity
In all naturalistic concepts of God, if you remove the human qualities there is nothing left