List of things I have read/watched and would like to discuss with people when they have also read/watched it. If you have any further recommendations, hit me up. Counting things that I have read/watched starting 2019 (with the exception of a few things).
With most major, older works of philosophy, we usually do not read the book front to cover as they cover a wide array of topics. So some I have not read in their entirety.
Interacting with Animals: A Kantian Account
I will call goodness in this sense the “natural good.” It is because there are beings for whom things are naturally good or bad, I believe, that there is such a thing as “good” and “bad” in what I will call the “objective” or “normative” sense –the sense that is morally significant, the sense that gives us reasons. The beings who share this condition are the animals, and you and I are among them. And that gives rise to a moral question. How should we treat the others?
The Activity of Reason
A venerable tradition holds that the difference between human beings and the other animals is that human beings are rational animals, that is, animals with reason. In the philosophical tradition, reason is often identified as the active capacity or power of the mind. This identification is implicit in the contrasts generally made between reason and sensation or perception, in the theoretical realm; and between reason and passion or desire, in the practical realm. It is also explicit in the work of some of our major philosophers: in Kant’s association of reason with the mind’s spontaneity, and in Aristotle’s doctrine of the active intellect or nous, for example. Putting these two ideas together—that reason is what distinguishes us from the other animals, and that reason is some special way the active dimension of the mind—we get the thesis that the human mind is active in some way that the minds of the other animals are not, and that this activity is the essence of rationality. My project in this paper is to articulate and defend that idea. I will offer an account of why the human mind is different from the minds of the other animals, and suggest a way of characterizing the activity of reason. Although my aim is to present a view that I find compelling rather than to argue against alternative views, I do wish to contrast my view with two other views that have currency on the contemporary scene. First, there is the view that particular substantive reasons are the primary locus and source of normativity, a view I will call “substantive realism” about reasons. According to this view, the work of reason is to recognize and respond to these reasons. So reason as conceived by this view is a receptive rather than a purely active faculty. Second, there is the resulting view that rationality is something different from reason. I will begin by discussing some worries I have about these views, some possible problems which I think can be traced to their failure to do justice to the activity of reason.
Creating the Kingdom of Ends
Christine Korsgaard has become one of the leading interpreters of Kant’s moral philosophy. She is identified with a small group of philosophers who are intent on producing a version of Kant’s moral philosophy that is at once sensitive to its historical roots while revealing its particular relevance to contemporary problems. She rejects the traditional picture of Kant’s ethics as a cold vision of the moral life which emphasises duty at the expense of love and value. Rather, Kant’s work is seen as providing a resource for addressing not only the metaphysics of morals, but also for tackling practical questions about personal relations, politics, and everyday human interaction. This collection contains some of the finest current work on Kant’s ethics and will command the attention of all those involved in teaching and studying moral theory.
Normativity, Necessity, and the Synthetic a priori
If I understand him correctly, Derek Parfit’s views place us, philosophically speaking, in a very small box. According to Parfit, normativity is an irreducible non-natural property that is independent of the human mind. That is to say, there are normative truths - truths about what we ought to do and to want, or about reasons for doing and wanting things. The truths in question are synthetic a priori truths, and accessible to us only by some sort of rational intuition. Parfit supposes that if we are to preserve the irreducibility of the normative, this is just about all we can say, at least until we bring in some actual intuitions to supply the story with some content.
Korsgaard argues that human beings are not more important than the other animals, that our moral nature does not make us superior to the other animals, and that our unique capacities do not make us better off than the other animals. She criticizes the “marginal cases” argument and advances a new view of moral standing as attaching to the atemporal subjects of lives. She criticizes Kant’s own view that our duties to animals are indirect, and offers a non-utilitarian account of the relation between pleasure and the good. She also addresses a number of directly practical questions: whether we have the right to eat animals, experiment on them, make them work for us and fight in our wars, and keep them as pets; and how to understand the wrong that we do when we cause a species to go extinct.
Christine M. Korsgaard presents a compelling new view of humans’ moral relationships to the other animals. She defends the claim that we are obligated to treat all sentient beings as what Kant called “ends-in-themselves”. Drawing on a theory of the good derived from Aristotle, she offers an explanation of why animals are the sorts of beings for whom things can be good or bad. She then turns to Kant’s argument for the value of humanity to show that rationality commits us to claiming the standing of ends-in-ourselves, in two senses. Kant argued that as autonomous beings, we claim to be ends-in-ourselves when we claim the standing to make laws for ourselves and each other. Korsgaard argues that as beings who have a good, we also claim to be ends-in-ourselves when we take the things that are good for us to be good absolutely and so worthy of pursuit. The first claim commits us to joining with other autonomous beings in relations of moral reciprocity. The second claim commits us to treating the good of every sentient creature as something of absolute importance.
Kant and Lying to the Murderer at the Door … One More Time: Kant’s Legal Philosophy and Lies to Murderers and Nazis
Kant’s example of lying to the murderer at the door has been a cherished source of scorn for thinkers with little sympathy for Kant’s philosophy and a source of deep puzzlement for those more favorably inclined. The problem is that Kant seems to say that it is always wrong to lie—even to a murderer asking for the whereabouts of his victim—and that if one does lie and despite one’s good intentions the lie leads to the murderer’s capture of the victim, then the liar is partially responsible for the killing of the victim. If this is correct, then Kant’s account seems not only to require us to respect the murderer more than the victim, but also that somehow we can be responsible for the consequences of another’s wrongdoing. After World War II our spontaneous, negative reaction to this appar- ently absurd line of argument is made even starker by replacing the murderer at the door with a Nazi officer looking for Jews hidden in people’s homes. Does Kant really mean to say that people hiding Jews in their homes should have told the truth to the Nazis, and that if they did lie, they became co-responsible for the heinous acts committed against those Jews who, like Anne Frank, were caught anyway? Because this is clearly what Kant argues, the critics continue, his dis- cussion of lying to the murderer brings out the true, dark side not only of Kant’s universalistic moral theory but also of Kant himself. We get the gloomy picture of a stubborn, old academic who refuses to see the inhumane consequences of his theory, and instead grotesquely defends the inhumane by turning it into an a priori, moral command.
In this paper, I argue that Kant’s discussion of lying to the murderer at the door has been seriously misinterpreted. My suggestion is that this is primarily a result of the fact that the Doctrine of Right with its conception of rightful, external freedom has been given insufficient attention in Kant interpretation. It is in the Doctrine of Right that Kant discusses rightful interaction in the empirical world. Hence it is in this work we find many of the arguments needed not only to understand his analysis of lying to the murderer in “On a Supposed Right to Lie from Philanthropy,” but also to analyze the added complexity the Nazi officer brings to the example. When we interpret lying to the murderer in light of Kant’s discussion in the Doctrine of Right, we can make sense of why lying to the murderer, although a wrong, is not to wrong the murderer, why we become responsible for the bad consequences of the lie, and finally why lying is to do wrong in general. The account of rightful freedom provided in the Doctrine of Right also makes it possible to see why replacing the murderer with a Nazi officer adds philosophical complexity rather than just one more reason to reject Kant’s view. The introduction of the Nazi officer requires us to consider the role of a public authority in ensuring rightful relations in general and what happens to the analysis of lying when rightful interactions as a matter of fact are no longer possible. We will see that the only time doing wrong in general by lying is legally punishable is when we lie to or as a representative of the public authority. The Nazis, however, did not represent a public authority on Kant’s view and conse- quently there is no duty to abstain from lying to Nazis. Two further strengths of Kant’s account, I propose in the final sections of the paper, lie in its ability to critique how European legal systems aimed to deal with the Nazis after the war was over and in its contribution to our understanding of the experiences of war heroes.
Sex, Love, and Gender - A Kantian Theory
Sex, Love, and Gender is the first volume to present a comprehensive philosophical theory that brings together all of Kant’s practical philosophy — found across his works on ethics, justice, anthropology, history, and religion — and provide a critique of emotionally healthy and morally permissible sexual, loving, gendered being. By rethinking Kant’s work on human nature and making space for sex, love, and gender within his moral accounts of freedom, the book shows how, despite his austere and even anti-sex, cisist, sexist, and heterosexist reputation, Kant’s writings on happiness and virtue (Part I) and right (Part II) in fact yield fertile philosophical ground on which we can explore specific contemporary issues such as abortion, sexual orientation, sexual or gendered identity, marriage, trade in sexual services, and sex- or gender-based oppression. Indeed, Kant’s philosophy provides us with resources to appreciate and value the diversity of human ways of loving and the existential importance of our embodied, social selves. Structured on a thematic basis, with introductions to assist those new to Kant’s philosophy, this book will be a valuable resource for anyone who cares about these issues and wants to make sense of them.
Justice as Freedom
Presents an overview of current intreperative traditions of Kant’s philosophy of right. Argues that the Lockean and Hobbesian interpretations fall short of Kant’s aim, which is more republican or in line with Rousseau.
How do we care well for a human being: ourselves or another? Non-Kantian scholars rarely identify the philosophy of Kant as a particularly useful resource with which to understand the full complexity of human care. Kant’s philosophy is often taken to presuppose that a philosophical analysis of good human life needs to attend only to how autonomous, rational agents—sprung up like mushrooms out of nowhere, without a childhood, never sick, always independent—ought to act respectfully, and how they can be forced to interact rightfully. Questions involving aspects of human life captured by what Eva Kittay aptly phrased “the fact of dependency” (1999) —such as our vulnerable, fragile, and embodied social natures, asymmetrical care relations, and deep systemic injustices—are therefore commonly thought to be beyond the grasp of Kant and of Kantian philosophy. Against this historically prominent understanding of Kant’s practical philosophy, below I engage and draw upon recent Kant scholarship which shows both the inadequacy of such rationalist readings and the fruitfulness of using Kant’s practical philosophy to enhance our understanding of human care relations. After situating my approach in the existing, relevant secondary literature on Kant’s human agent, I explore key features of Kant’s accounts of human nature and the highest good. I pay special attention to his proposal that our human nature comprises reflective and unreflective aspects and patterns that we (ought to) strive to develop, transform, and integrate in wise ways through our faculty of desire. In addition, I emphasize the dangers that our ineradicable propensity to do bad things (evil) poses for our projects of self- and other- care. I proceed by outlining how Kant’s account of moral (ethical and legal) responsibility for self and others is developed through his theories of freedom, that is, through his theory of virtue (virtuous internal freedom with its account of perfect and imperfect duties) and his theory of right (rightful external freedom with its account of innate, private, and public right).
Kant and Moral Responsibility for Animals
Varden defends Kant’s position that we do not have moral responsibilities “to” animals. However, the way we treat animals can result in genuine moral failures. Addtionally, there may be other value, existential value, in the way we value animals.
Force and Freedom - Arthur Ripstein
Perversity of the Heart - David Sussman
For Badness’ Sake - David Sussman
Kant’s Racism - Lucy Allais
Black Radical Kantianism - Charles W. Mills
Kant’s Cosmopolitan Patriotism - Pauline Kleingeld
Hospitality’s Downfall: Kant, Cosmopolitanism, and Refugees - Adam Knowles
Kant and Cosmopolitanism - Pauline Kleingeld
Kant’s Retributivism - Done E. Scheid
Does Kant Have a Theory of Punishment? - Jeffrie G. Murphy
Kant on Punishment: A Coherent Mix of Deterrence and Retribution? - Thomas E. Hill, Jr.
What Kant would have said in the refugee crisis - Peter Niesen
In September 2015, while discussing the impact of the short-lived opening of its territorial borders to refugees, intellectual Germany was briefly enthralled by a debate on Kant’s Toward Perpetual Peace. While large numbers of migrants were making their way to Germany, and some German and Central European politicians voiced increasing skepticism about their claims, the philosopher Byung-Chul Han defended their universal right to residence based on Kant’s notion of hospitality. Kant held, Han argued, that every foreigner has a right to stay (Bleiberecht) in another country — according to Kant, he may remain there and not be treated with hostility “’as long as he behaves peaceably where he is’”. Han derives this interpretation from Kant’s alleged view that “no one has ‘more right than another to be on a place on earth’”.1 Of course, Han’s last quotation from Perpetual Peace leaves out the modifier “originally” in “no one originally had more right than another to be on a place on earth” and thus transforms a ground of past entitlement — the idea of a “possession in common of the earth’s surface” (8: 358)2 — into a present day prescription. Han’s selective quotation also eclipses the qualification Kant introduced, between the two passages quoted, on the right to hospitality. Kant states that what the new arrivals can claim, based on the argument of original common ownership, “is not the right to be a guest … but the right to visit” (8: 358).
Kant’s Theory of the State - Jeremy Waldron
Immanuel Kant’s theory of what we owe to the state presents an important alternative to traditional consent-based, utilitarian, and fairness-based ac- counts. On the consent-based approach, we are obligated to the state be- cause we have consented to its authority; its authority is supposed to be based on a choice we made between two morally permissible alternatives (give one’s consent to, or withhold one’s consent from state authority). On Kant’s theory, however, withholding one’s consent is impermissible. Ac- cording to the utilitarian approach, the state’s claim on us is based on the benefits it provides for others; and on the fairness approach, its claim on us is based on the moral unacceptability of our accepting these benefits with- out contributing our fair share to their provision. On Kant’s theory, how- ever, the state’s claim on us has to do not with any benefits that we receive, but with a change in the moral quality—indeed, the moral legitimacy—of certain actions of ours when they are performed under the auspices of a framework of positive law. His, therefore, is a challenging and unconven- tional theory of what we owe to the state, and it requires careful explication. The first step in such an explication is to figure out exactly what the state is, according to Kant, and to see whether his conception of the state differs from the conception that is used in political philosophy and social theory generally.
Kant and Liberal Internationalism - Michael W. Doyle
What difference do liberal principles and institutions make to the conduct of the foreign affairs of liberal states? A thicket of conflicting judgments suggests that the legacies of liberalism have not been clearly appreciated. On the one hand, for many citizens of liberal states, liberal principles and institutions have so fully absorbed domestic politics that their influence on foreign affairs tends to be either perceived as exaggerated or overlooked altogether. Liberalism becomes either unselfconsciously patriotic or inher- ently ‘‘peace-loving.’’ On the other hand, for many scholars and diplomats, relations among independent states appear to differ so significantly from domestic politics that the influences of liberal principles and domestic lib- eral institutions are either denied or denigrated. They judge that interna- tional relations are governed by perceptions of national security and the balance of power. Liberal principles and institutions, when they do intrude, confuse and disrupt the pursuit of balance-of-power politics. Although liberalism is misinterpreted from both these points of view, a crucial aspect of the liberal legacy is captured by each. Liberalism is a dis- tinct ideology and set of institutions that have shaped the perceptions of and capacities for foreign relations of political societies that range from social welfare or social democratic to laissez-faire. Liberalism defines much of the content of the liberal patriot’s nationalism. It does appear to disrupt the pursuit of balance-of-power politics. Thus its foreign relations cannot be adequately explained (or prescribed) by a sole reliance on the balance of power. But liberalism is not inherently ‘‘peace-loving,’’ nor is it consis- tently restrained or peaceful in intent. Furthermore, liberal practice may reduce the probability that states will successfully exercise the consis- tent restraint and peaceful intentions that world peace may well require in the nuclear age. Yet the peaceful intent and restraint that liberalism does manifest in limited aspects of its foreign affairs announces the pos- sibility of a world peace this side of the grave or of world conquest. Liberals have created something considerably more stable than a troubled peace constantly threatening an outbreak of war. They have strengthened the prospects for a world peace established by the steady expansion of a sepa- rate peace among liberal societies. This essay highlights the differences between liberal practice toward other liberal societies and liberal practice toward nonliberal societies. It argues that liberalism has achieved extraordinary success in the first and, yet, has contributed to exceptional confusion in the second. Appreciating these liberal legacies calls, first, for another look at one of the greatest of liberal philosophers, Immanuel Kant, for he is a source of insight, policy, and hope.
Kant’s Philosophy of History - Allen W. Wood
Kant’s writings on human history appear at first glance to constitute only a small part of his literary output and to have only marginal significance for his philosophy. Unlike some other great modern philosophers, such as Leib- niz, Hume, and Hegel, Kant was not himself a historian, not even a very well read historian of philosophy. The essays devoted chiefly to the philoso- phy of history consist in a few brief occasional pieces, such as ‘‘Idea for a Universal History from a Cosmopolitan Perspective’’ (1784) and ‘‘Conjec- tural Beginning of Human History’’ (1786), plus some parts of other essays, such as the one about the common saying on theory and practice (1794) or the Contest of the Faculties (1798). But if we look more closely at some of his most important works, we begin to see that views about history, even quite distinctively Kantian views, play a major role in their arguments and even in their very conception.
A Kantian Look at Climate Change - Casey Rentmeester
Kant has been dead for over 200 years (he lived from 1724 to 1804), but there are many ways in which he was way ahead of his time. His conception of nature is considered by scientists to be “the essence of modern models,” he predicted something akin to the United Nations with his idea of a “League of Nations,” and he thought that universes “exist along a larger oscillating chain of Big Bangs and Big Crunches,” thereby anticipating the most recent cosmological theory of “The Big Bounce.” Moreover, he was one of the first philosophers to lament the ecological destruction that he witnessed happening around him. In his Critique of Judgment, Kant bemoans the destruction of the pine forests near his hometown of Königsberg.
Unifying the Categorical Imperative - Marcus Arvan
This paper demonstrates something that Immanuel Kant notoriously claimed to be possible, but which Kant scholars today widely believe to be impossible: unification of all three formulations of the Categorical Imperative. §1 of this paper provides an intuitive reading of Kant’s theory of practical reason and morality according to which the threeiii formulations of the Categorical Imperative (the Universal Law Formulation, the Humanity Formulation, and the Kingdom of Ends Formulation) are identical. §2 then provides clear textual support for each premise in a formal argument for this Unifying Interpretation.
False Negatives of the Categorical Imperative- Richard McCarty
The categorical imperative can be construed as a universalization test for moral permissibility. False negatives of the categorical imperative would be maxims failing this test, despite the permissibility of their actions; maxims like: ‘I’ll withdraw all my savings on April 15th’. Examples of purported false negatives familiar from the literature can be grouped into three general categories, and dispatched by applying category-specific methods for proper formulation of their maxims, or for proper testing. Methods for reformulating failing maxims, such as the addition of appro- priate conditional clauses, do not generate false-positive counterexamples in other instances.