Politics and Metaphysics in Kant

Politics and Metaphysics in Kant

Sorin Baiasu
Sami Pihlström
Howard Williams
Copyright Date: 2011
Edition: 1
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    Politics and Metaphysics in Kant
    Book Description:

    The past three decades have witnessed the emergence of several Kantian theories. Both the critical reaction to consequentialism inspired by Rawlsian constructivism and the universalism of more recent theories informed by Habermasian discourse ethics trace their main sources of inspiration back to Kant's writings.

    eISBN: 978-0-7083-2378-6
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Abbreviations and References to Kant’s Works
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. 1 Metaphysics and Politics in the Wake of Kant: The Project of a Critical Practical Philosophy
    (pp. 1-27)
    Sorin Baiasu, Sami Pihlström and Howard Williams

    The past three decades have witnessed the emergence, at the forefront of political thought, of several Kantian theories. Both the critical reaction to consequentialism inspired by Rawlsian constructivism and the universalism of more recent theories informed by Habermasian discourse ethics, for instance, trace their main sources of inspiration back to Kant’s writings. Yet much of what is Kantian in contemporary theory is formulated with more or less strict caveats concerning Kant’s metaphysics. These range from radical claims that theories of justice must be political, not metaphysical, to more cautious calls for replacing Kant’s metaphysics with a less demanding ontology, such...

  5. 2 Kant’s Moral Constructivism and Rational Justification
    (pp. 28-46)
    Kenneth R. Westphal

    Inevitably, my paper is a fragment of a much larger project; here I can only sketch briefly the context within which I hope to highlight a very important feature of Kant’s constructivist method for identifying and justifying basic norms: uniquely, it resolves the Pyrrhonian Dilemma of the Criterion.

    Pyrrhonian Scepticism and the Dilemma of the Criterion have haunted philosophy, implicitly or explicitly, from Pyrrho to the present day. The modern natural law tradition within which Kant worked was no exception. Although Grotius is among the few who explicitly cite Sextus’ Dilemma of the Criterion, the twin problems of enabling and...

  6. 3 • Political, not Metaphysical, yet Kantian? A Defence of Rawls
    (pp. 47-70)
    Alyssa R. Bernstein

    Katrin Flikschuh asserts in her recent book,Kant and Modern Political Philosophy[KMPP] (2000),¹ that the assimilation of Kant into mainstream Anglo-American liberalism ‘is due almost entirely’ to John Rawls’s book,A Theory of Justice[TJ] (1999);² but while giving Rawls credit for this, she also holds him to blame for the ‘rejection of metaphysics’ by contemporary liberal political philosophers, which has impaired their theorizing, she contends, by making it not only un-Kantian but also incoherent (KMPP: 2–6, 13). Flikschuh attributes to Rawls the position that metaphysics ‘can be relegated to the domain of persons’ private beliefs’ and that...

  7. 4 On the Conditions of Discourse and Being: Kantian, Wittgensteinian and Levinasian Perspectives on the Relation between Metaphysics and Ethics
    (pp. 71-96)
    Sami Pihlström

    Metaphysics is usually regarded as the most general inquiry into the structures of reality, ‘Being qua Being’ – as a ‘category theory’ in a realist, Aristotelian spirit.¹ Traditionally, metaphysics and ethics have been seen as two distinct areas of philosophy, metaphysics being the primary one. What I propose here is a rethinking of the relation between metaphysics and ethics. More than anyone else, it was Kant who paved the way for the kind of rethinking I will sketch. From a Kantian perspective, metaphysics cannot be practised as an inquiry into the worldan sich; yet there is room for acritical...

  8. 5 One Community or Many? From Logic to Juridical Law via Metaphysics
    (pp. 97-114)
    Lucas Thorpe

    There are, I believe, at least five ‘core’ notions of community in Kant’s mature work that are all modelled on the category of community, introduced as the third category of relation in the firstCritique. In the Third Analogy and theMetaphysical Foundations of Natural Science,Kant develops an account of physical interaction. In his pre-critical writings and the cosmology sections of his metaphysics lectures he provides an analysis of the metaphysical idea of a ‘World’ understood as a community of individuals in interaction. In his ethical works we find the ideal of a realm of ends understood to be...

  9. 6 Kant’s Rechtslehre and Ideas of Reason
    (pp. 115-133)
    Tatiana Patrone

    Since Kant is notoriously interested in bringing his philosophical system into anarchitectonicunity, the project of relating his political philosophy to his metaphysics promises to be rewarding. The Preface and the Introduction toThe Metaphysics of Moralsbridge Kant’s political doctrine and the practical part of his corpus; throughoutRechtslehrewe find numerous references to Kant’s accounts of reason, freedom and morality; even where explicit references are missing, Kant’s terminology and arguments bear resemblance to his critical works. Of the many respects in which Kant’s philosophy of right can be related to his critical doctrine, I will discuss one....

  10. 7 Practical Agency, Teleology and System in Kant’s Architectonic of Pure Reason
    (pp. 134-151)
    Lea Ypi

    The section on the Architectonic of Pure Reason has until recently been among the least read parts of Kant’s firstCritique.¹ Historically, those few authors that thought it worth commenting on these pages seem to agree with Schopenhauer’s early judgement that their presence in theCritique of Pure Reasonis due more to Kant’s ‘Liebe für architektonische Simmetrie’² than it adds anything worth exploring to the rest of this major work. This paper tries to show that, far from being of ‘slight scientific importance’ or merely satisfying an interest for ‘the personality of Kant’,³ the Architectonic of Pure Reason is...

  11. 8 What a Kantian Can Know A Priori: An Argument for Moral Cognitivism
    (pp. 152-173)
    Katerina Deligiorgi

    From a meta-ethical perspective, the Kantian position appears straightforwardly cognitivist: the moral law is a genuine piece of knowledge.¹ However, speaking of moral knowledge sounds un-Kantian. For Kant, epistemic questions concern mainly the domain of ‘theoretical knowledge’, which is restricted to putative objects of experience. Moral questions are ‘practical’ and arise within the domain of practical reason. The former address what is, the latter what ought to be.² In pressing this distinction, Kant explicitly contrasts knowledge and practice. When, for instance, he discusses the ideas of freedom, God and immortality, he explains that these ‘are not in any way necessary...

  12. 9 Metaphysics and Moral Judgement
    (pp. 174-195)
    Sorin Baiasu

    Nowadays, Kantians seem to make little progress in the attempt to offer guidance for our decisions concerning right and wrong. Every time some principle of moral judgement is suggested, Kantian ethical theories seem happy to accept that ‘there is much more tinkering we can do’, and they seem to embrace, rather than try to avoid, a ‘permanent fix-it situation’.¹

    I think the main reason for the proliferation of this approach is that commentators misidentify the source or nature of moral normativity. This is, I think, a consequence of the current tendency in much ethical and political theory to avoid metaphysics...

  13. 10 ‘Intelligible Facts’: Toward a Constructivist Account of Action and Responsibility
    (pp. 196-214)
    Garrath Williams

    Fifty years ago, one writer on responsibility made the famous claim that ‘we are all Kantians now’.¹ This chapter argues that facts about who did what and who is responsible for what can best be analysed using terms familiar from Kant’s philosophy – as ‘intelligible’ or ‘noumenal’ realities. For paid-up Kantians, this is a matter of course: the questions would be how to cash out this claim, and how it relates to the metaphysical commitments of Kantian theory. For the rest of us, however, it would be truer to say that ‘we are all naturalists now’ – at least in a broad...

  14. 11 Metaphysical and not just Political
    (pp. 215-234)
    Howard Williams

    This chapter examines Kant’s method in political philosophy. It looks closely at the understanding of metaphysics the method presupposes and the use to which a legitimate metaphysics is put in Kant. The role of a priori principles in political philosophy will accordingly be considered and I will seek to express Kant’s use of these terms in a contemporary idiom accessible to philosophers in the twenty-first century. Although there will be some comparison with the ideas of Rawls and Habermas, the emphasis will be primarily upon reappraising Kant’s critical approach to political theory. I illustrate this approach with reference to Kant’s...

  15. 12 Cosmopolitan Right: State and System in Kant’s Political Theory
    (pp. 235-249)
    Sharon Anderson-Gold

    It may seem strange to entertain a relationship between political theory and metaphysics since metaphysics is concerned with universal rational principles while politics appears to be composed of particular actions that may have little to do with ‘reason’. But in so far as politics claims to be aimed at ‘right action’, it depends upon a theory of right. Justice, in so far as it provides a universal criterion of right action, cannot take its bearings from positive law since this varies in particular times and places. Therefore, if there is a universal criterion of right action its sources must be...

  16. 13 The Metaphysics of International Law: Kant’s ‘Unjust Enemy’ and the Limitation of Self-Authorization
    (pp. 250-270)
    Oliver Eberl

    Kant envisioned a scheme of international security that would help particularly small and weak nations to abandon the collective insecurity of the state of nature, where nations may fight one another just because they feel threatened or insulted. Instead, Kant sought to spell out the conditions for a perpetual peace among nations by introducing an epistemic authority. Such an authority would be an ordinary court. But in the absence of a regular court this authority could be substituted with an arbitrational court. Especially when the legal basis for the judgement is not positive law laid down by a united will...

  17. Index
    (pp. 271-280)