Themes in Kant's Metaphysics and Ethics

Themes in Kant's Metaphysics and Ethics

Arthur Melnick
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Themes in Kant's Metaphysics and Ethics
    Book Description:

    Intended for those interested in Kant's contribution to philosophy, this volume provides an overview of Kant's arguments concerning central issues in metaphysics and ethics.

    eISBN: 978-0-8132-1629-4
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. vii-x)

    This work is a collection of ten essays on Kant’s theoretical philosophy and three essays on his practical philosophy. All of the essays have been written expressly to be read independently of the others. Together, however, the first ten essays I believe constitute a unified and fairly comprehensive account of Kant’s views in the first Critique. Most of the essays attempt to set out Kant’s own views. Two of them (Essays 5 and 13), however, are reconstructions of Kant-like positions, while one (Essay 10) aims to reject one of Kant’s doctrines.

    The first two essays set out Kant’s theory of...

    • 1. The Consistency of Kant’s Theory of Space and Time
      (pp. 3-20)

      In the Aesthetic Kant holds that space and time are given in pure intuition. In the Transcendental Deduction he holds that they are due to a synthesis of the transcendental imagination. Since a synthesis is a putting together, this seems to contradict the view of the Aesthetic that space and time are simply given. At least, in both these sections, Kant holds that space and time are pure manifolds. However, in the Analogies he holds a “dynamical” conception of space and time, according to which objects (appearances) “determine for one another their position” (A200, B245, p. 226).¹ This apparently relational...

    • 2. Kant vs. Lambert and Trendelenburg on the Ideality of Time
      (pp. 21-32)

      Kant’s thesis that space and time are transcendentally ideal can be fruitfully understood, I claim, on the model of constructivism in the philosophy of mathematics. Just as numbers are not objective (Platonic) realities but exist in and through procedures or constructions such as counting, so too space and time are not objective (absolute or relational) realities but exist in and through “flowing” procedures or constructions. In this essay I develop and use this model to answer the longstanding objections of Lambert and Trendelenburg against Kant’s views, thereby showing the fruitfulness of pursuing this model.

      In Section 7 of the Aesthetic...

    • 3. Apperception and the Premise of Kant’s Transcendental Deduction
      (pp. 35-46)

      Kant’s Transcendental Deduction is supposed to provide a method for establishing the applicability of pure concepts to all cognizable reality. The premise of this method, then, must itself be such as to pertain to all cognizable reality and so, a fortiori, to all varieties of experience and consciousness as well as all varieties of objects and states of affairs. Now, a principle that is the basis of all cognition of reality whatsoever will pertain to all cognizable reality, and so be a suitable premise. My contention is that this basis is that the unity of apperception relates to the transcendental...

    • 4. Categories, Logical Functions, and Schemata in Kant
      (pp. 47-68)

      In the first edition Transcendental Deduction of the categories Kant does not mention the logical functions of judgment. In the second edition (the B edition), the Deduction can be said to be dominated by the logical functions of judgment. A transcendental deduction supplies a method for showing that pure concepts can have applicability. My contention is that the two deductions constitute exactly the same method, and so are the exact same deduction.¹ The difference between them, rather, is in the characterization of the pure concepts that the method is supposed to be a method for. The categories of the A...

    • 5. A Modified Version of Kant’s Theory of Cognition
      (pp. 69-92)

      Kant has a theory of cognition in which all thoughts or cognitions are rules for empirical reacting in the course of spatially and temporally constructing. These rules function as representations of our situation in relation to all the ways in which it is proper to interact with reality. Kant’s theory is fundamentally different from accounts of representation that involve reference to objects by uniquely individuating descriptions, or by causal (information) chains, or by a combination of both. In the first part of this essay I set out Kant’s theory of cognition in his own terms. In the second part I...

    • 6. Kant’s Proofs of Substance and Causation
      (pp. 95-124)

      Kant’s views on the nature of causation and substance do not depend on any compromise between or any combination of rationalism and empiricism, but on what he calls a “third thing,” the pure intuition of time, which is completely missing in both rationalism and empiricism.

      For Kant the empiricist position on causation fails to establish the necessary connection between events, that one event “arises out of” or “emerges” from another. Besides constant conjunction in experience Kant grants the empiricist “empirical” universality through induction (A91, B124, pp. 124–25),¹ or completely universal generalization. This universality, however, only implies that all events...

    • 7. Kant’s Refutation of Idealism in the B Edition
      (pp. 125-144)

      The Refutation of Idealism in the B edition attempts to show that if I know that I am now in a conscious state, then I must also be immediately aware of objects in space outside me. The argument proceeds in two steps, each of which concerns the reality of time. First, to know that I am now in a conscious state entails that the present time exists, and the present can only exist as emerging from the past. Second, the reality of the past entails the existence of objects outside me that are intuitable, or that I can be immediately...

    • 8. Kant on Things in Themselves
      (pp. 147-163)

      Understanding Kant’s doctrine of things in themselves involves understanding three claims he makes. First, we do not cognize things in themselves. Second, they are not in space and time, and third, the categories do not apply to them. These claims, I contend, are utterly central to Kant’s entire theory of cognition in the Critique and cannot be discarded without discarding the Critique itself. In the first section of this essay I shall clarify and defend Kant’s claims. In the second section I shall discuss variations in Kant’s thinking regarding these claims that are evident in certain passages of the text....

    • 9. Kant’s Proof of Transcendental Idealism in the First Antinomy
      (pp. 164-184)

      Kant thinks the Antinomies establish transcendental idealism as against an opposing view that he calls transcendental realism. The idealist holds that the world “is only to be met with in the regressive synthesis itself,” while the realist views the field of appearance “as a thing given in and by itself prior to all regress” (A505, B533, p. 448).¹ It is not that the realist holds that there is no regressive synthesis. Rather, he holds there is also the sensible world standing against the synthesis waiting to be met with by the synthesis. The idealist, by contrast, holds that the world...

    • 10. Macroscopic Facts, Quantum Mechanics, and Metaphysical Realism
      (pp. 185-202)

      There is a plausible way of understanding quantum mechanics according to which reality has quantum-mechanical structure whether or not quantum phenomena are conceptualizable. Further, reality’s having that structure determines or produces macroscopic facts. If so, then such macroscopic facts arise from or are determined by a reality that is independent of conceptualization. Thus, although macroscopic facts are conceptualizable, they do not owe their reality to being conceptualizable. In this understanding of quantum mechanics, then, macroscopic facts are real apart from any intrinsic relation to conceptualization, and so are metaphysically real. This has negative implications for Kant’s Copernican revolution, according to...

    • 11. Reason, Freedom, and Determinism in the Third Antinomy
      (pp. 205-228)

      In Kant’s view, genuine practical reasoning cannot be causally determined. Practical reasoning is open-ended in the sense that there is never a fixed stock of reasons that are definitive or conclusive as to how to live, and so as to what to do. For such open-ended reasoning to be efficacious, its concrete realization cannot be fixed or determined. Rather, only free, undetermined choice can close off practical reason without violating its open-ended nature. The dependence of practical reasoning on free choice leads Kant to the view that practical reasoning cannot be identical to any natural (and hence, for him, determined)...

    • 12. Kant’s Formulations of the Categorical Imperative
      (pp. 229-248)

      Kant’s second formulation of the categorical imperative commands respect for rational agents as ends in themselves. Korsgaard has interpreted this as commanding respect for rationality as the source of the value of our goals in life. She says, “But the distinctive feature of humanity as such is simply the capacity to take a rational interest in something: to decide under the influence of reason that something is desirable, that it is worthy of pursuit or realization, that it is deemed to be important or valuable not because it contributes to survival or instinctual satisfaction, but as an end for its...

    • 13. The Rational Justification of Morality
      (pp. 249-268)

      Kant attempted to derive morality from our nature as rational beings, rationality signifying for Kant universality, which was the form of moral law. Korsgaard has modified this Kantian program by making rationality the source of our goals and morality a matter of respecting or valuing our goals by respecting our rational nature as such.¹ Supposedly a derivation from our rational nature would explain why it is that morality matters or that we should be moral. Even if it might promote the satisfaction of our goals to behave contrary to morality, it would be irrational to do so. If one is...

  9. Bibliography
    (pp. 269-272)
  10. Index
    (pp. 273-275)