Kantianism

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Kantianism is the philosophy of Immanuel Kant, a German philosopher born in Königsberg, Prussia (now Kaliningrad, Russia). The term Kantianism or Kantian is sometimes also used to describe contemporary positions in philosophy of mind, epistemology, and ethics.

Immanuel Kant Prussian philosopher

Immanuel Kant was an influential German philosopher in the Age of Enlightenment. In his doctrine of transcendental idealism, he argued that space, time, and causation are mere sensibilities; "things-in-themselves" exist, but their nature is unknowable. In his view, the mind shapes and structures experience, with all human experience sharing certain structural features. He drew a parallel to the Copernican revolution in his proposition that worldly objects can be intuited a priori ('beforehand'), and that intuition is therefore independent from objective reality. Kant believed that reason is the source of morality, and that aesthetics arise from a faculty of disinterested judgment. Kant's views continue to have a major influence on contemporary philosophy, especially the fields of epistemology, ethics, political theory, and post-modern aesthetics.

Germans are a Germanic ethnic group native to Central Europe, who share a common German ancestry, culture and history. German is the shared mother tongue of a substantial majority of ethnic Germans.

Königsberg capital city in Prussia

Königsberg is the name for the historic Prussian city that is now Kaliningrad, Russia. Originally a Sambian or Old Prussian settlement, it then belonged to the State of the Teutonic Order, the Duchy of Prussia, the Kingdom of Prussia, the German Empire, the Weimar Republic, and Nazi Germany. After being largely destroyed in World War II by Allied bombing and the Red Army, it was annexed by the Soviet Union and its surviving inhabitants forcibly expelled. Thereafter, the city was renamed Kaliningrad. Few traces of the former Königsberg remain today.

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Ethics

Kantian ethics are deontological, revolving entirely around duty rather than emotions or end goals. All actions are performed in accordance with some underlying maxim or principle, which are vastly different from each other; it is according to this that the moral worth of any action is judged. Kant's ethics are founded on his view of rationality as the ultimate good and his belief that all people are fundamentally rational beings. This led to the most important part of Kant's ethics, the formulation of the categorical imperative, which is the criterion for whether a maxim is good or bad.

Kantian ethics Ethical theory of Immanuel Kant

Kantian ethics refers to a deontological ethical theory ascribed to the German philosopher Immanuel Kant. The theory, developed as a result of Enlightenment rationalism, is based on the view that the only intrinsically good thing is a good will; an action can only be good if its maxim – the principle behind it – is duty to the moral law. Central to Kant's construction of the moral law is the categorical imperative, which acts on all people, regardless of their interests or desires. Kant formulated the categorical imperative in various ways. His principle of universalizability requires that, for an action to be permissible, it must be possible to apply it to all people without a contradiction occurring. If a contradiction occurs the act violates Aristotle's "Non-contradiction" concept which states that just actions cannot lead to contradictions. Kant's formulation of humanity, the second section of the Categorical Imperative, states that as an end in itself humans are required never to treat others merely as a means to an end, but always, additionally, as ends in themselves. The formulation of autonomy concludes that rational agents are bound to the moral law by their own will, while Kant's concept of the Kingdom of Ends requires that people act as if the principles of their actions establish a law for a hypothetical kingdom. Kant also distinguished between perfect and imperfect duties. A perfect duty, such as the duty not to lie, always holds true; an imperfect duty, such as the duty to give to charity, can be made flexible and applied in particular time and place.

A maxim is a concise expression of a fundamental moral rule or principle, whether considered as objective or subjective contingent on one's philosophy. A maxim is often pedagogical and motivates specific actions. The Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy defines it as:

Generally any simple and memorable rule or guide for living; for example, 'neither a borrower nor a lender be'. Tennyson speaks of 'a little hoard of maxims preaching down a daughter's heart, and maxims have generally been associated with a 'folksy' or 'copy-book' approach to morality.

Categorical imperative concept of Kantian philosophy

The categorical imperative is the central philosophical concept in the deontological moral philosophy of Immanuel Kant. Introduced in Kant's 1785 Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, it may be defined as a way of evaluating motivations for action.

Simply put, this criterion amounts to a thought experiment: to attempt to universalize the maxim (by imagining a world where all people necessarily acted in this way in the relevant circumstances) and then see if the maxim and its associated action would still be conceivable in such a world. For instance, holding the maxim kill anyone who annoys you and applying it universally would result in self termination. Thus holding this maxim is irrational as it ends up being impossible to hold it.

Thought experiment considering hypothesis, theory, or principle for the purpose of thinking through its consequences

A thought experiment considers a hypothesis, theory, or principle for the purpose of thinking through its consequences.

Universalizing a maxim (statement) leads to it being valid, or to one of two contradictions — a contradiction in conception (where the maxim, when universalized, is no longer a viable means to the end) or a contradiction in will (where the will of a person contradicts what the universalization of the maxim implies). The first type leads to a "perfect duty", and the second leads to an "imperfect duty".

Kant's ethics focus, then, only on the maxim that underlies actions, and judges these to be good or bad solely on how they conform to reason. Kant showed that many of our common sense views of what is good or bad conform to his system, but denied that any action performed for reasons other than rational actions can be good (saving someone who is drowning simply out of a great pity for them is not a morally good act). Kant also denied that the consequences of an act in any way contribute to the moral worth of that act, his reasoning being (highly simplified for brevity) that the physical world is outside our full control, and thus we cannot be held accountable for the events that occur in it.

The Formulations of the Categorical Imperative:

  1. Act only according to that maxim whereby you can, at the same time, will that it should become a universal law. [1]
  2. Act in such a way that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, never merely as a means to an end, but always at the same time as an end. [2]
  3. Therefore, every rational being must so act as if he were, through his maxim, always a legislating member in the universal kingdom of ends. [3]

Political philosophy

In political philosophy, Kant has had wide and increasing influence with major political philosophers of the late twentieth century. For example, John Rawls [4] [5] drew heavily on his inspiration in setting out the basis for a liberal view of political institutions.[ clarification needed ] The nature of Rawls' use of Kant has engendered serious controversy [ clarification needed ] but has demonstrated the vitality of Kantian considerations across a wider range of questions than was once thought plausible.

Political philosophy sub-discipline of philosophy and political science

Political philosophy, also known as political theory, is the study of topics such as politics, liberty, justice, property, rights, law, and the enforcement of laws by authority: what they are, if they are needed, what makes a government legitimate, what rights and freedoms it should protect, what form it should take, what the law is, and what duties citizens owe to a legitimate government, if any, and when it may be legitimately overthrown, if ever.

John Rawls American political philosopher

John Bordley Rawls was an American moral and political philosopher in the liberal tradition. Rawls received both the Schock Prize for Logic and Philosophy and the National Humanities Medal in 1999, the latter presented by President Bill Clinton, in recognition of how Rawls's work "helped a whole generation of learned Americans revive their faith in democracy itself."

Liberalism is a political and moral philosophy based on liberty, consent of the governed, and equality before the law. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but they generally support limited government, individual rights, capitalism, democracy, secularism, gender equality, racial equality, internationalism, freedom of speech, freedom of the press and freedom of religion. Yellow is the political colour most commonly associated with liberalism.

See also

Adaptive representation is an extension by Francis Heylighen to Kant's theory of knowledge.

Neo-Kantianism

In late modern continental philosophy, neo-Kantianism was a revival of the 18th-century philosophy of Immanuel Kant. More specifically, it was influenced by Arthur Schopenhauer's critique of the Kantian philosophy in his work The World as Will and Representation (1818), as well as by other post-Kantian philosophers such as Jakob Friedrich Fries and Johann Friedrich Herbart.

Related Research Articles

Normative ethics is the study of ethical action. It is the branch of philosophical ethics that investigates the set of questions that arise when considering how one ought to act, morally speaking.

Various approaches of Value theory examine how, why, and to what degree humans value things; whether the object or subject of valuing is a person, idea, object, or anything else.

<i>Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals</i> philosophical tract by Immanuel Kant

Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals is the first of Immanuel Kant's mature works on moral philosophy and remains one of the most influential in the field. Kant conceives his investigation as a work of foundational ethics—one that clears the ground for future research by explaining the core concepts and principles of moral theory and showing that they are normative for rational agents. Kant aspires to nothing less than this: to lay bare the fundamental principle of morality and show that it applies to us. In the text, Kant provides a groundbreaking argument that the rightness of an action is determined by the character of the principle that a person chooses to act upon. Kant thus stands in stark contrast to the moral sense theories and teleological moral theories that dominated moral philosophy at the time he was writing. Central to the work is the role of what Kant refers to as the categorical imperative, the concept that one must act only according to that precept which he or she would will to become a universal law.

Hypothetical imperative Kantian philosophical concept; antonym of categorical imperative

A hypothetical imperative is originally introduced in the philosophical writings of Immanuel Kant. This sort of imperative is contrasted with a categorical imperative.

In moral philosophy, deontological ethics or deontology is the normative ethical theory that the morality of an action should be based on whether that action itself is right or wrong under a series of rules, rather than based on the consequences of the action.

<i>Critique of Pure Reason</i> 1781 book by Immanuel Kant

The Critique of Pure Reason is a book by the German philosopher Immanuel Kant, in which the author seeks to determine the limits and scope of metaphysics. Also referred to as Kant's "First Critique", it was followed by the Critique of Practical Reason (1788) and the Critique of Judgment (1790). In the preface to the first edition, Kant explains that by a "critique of pure reason" he means a critique "of the faculty of reason in general, in respect of all knowledge after which it may strive independently of all experience" and that he aims to reach a decision about "the possibility or impossibility of metaphysics".

<i>Critique of Judgment</i> 1790 book by Immanuel Kant

The Critique of Judgment, also translated as the Critique of the Power of Judgment, is a 1790 book by the German philosopher Immanuel Kant. Sometimes referred to as the "third critique," the Critique of Judgment follows the Critique of Pure Reason (1781) and the Critique of Practical Reason (1788).

Universal prescriptivism is the meta-ethical view which claims that, rather than expressing propositions, ethical sentences function similarly to imperatives which are universalizable—whoever makes a moral judgment is committed to the same judgment in any situation where the same relevant facts obtain.

The concept of universalizability was set out by the 18th-century German philosopher Immanuel Kant as part of his work Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals. It is part of the first formulation of his categorical imperative, which states that the only morally acceptable maxims of our actions are those that could rationally be willed to be universal law.

Kingdom of Ends

The Kingdom of Ends is a thought experiment centered on the moral philosophy of Immanuel Kant. Kant introduced the concept in his Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals (4:439). The thought experiment proposes a world in which all human beings are treated as ends, not as mere means to an end for other people.

<i>The Metaphysics of Morals</i> 1797 work of political and moral philosophy by Immanuel Kant

The Metaphysics of Morals is a 1797 work of political and moral philosophy by Immanuel Kant.

Moral rationalism, also called ethical rationalism, is a view in meta-ethics according to which moral principles are knowable a priori, by reason alone. Some prominent figures in the history of philosophy who have defended moral rationalism are Plato and Immanuel Kant. Perhaps the most prominent figure in the history of philosophy who has rejected moral rationalism is David Hume. Recent philosophers who have defended moral rationalism include Richard Hare, Christine Korsgaard, Alan Gewirth, and Michael Smith.

Objectivity is a philosophical concept of being true independently from individual subjectivity caused by perception, emotions, or imagination. A proposition is considered to have objective truth when its truth conditions are met without bias caused by a sentient subject. Scientific objectivity refers to the ability to judge without partiality or external influence, sometimes used synonymously with neutrality.

Allen W. Wood academic

Allen William Wood is an American philosopher specializing in the work of Immanuel Kant and German Idealism, with particular interests in ethics and social philosophy. He is the Ruth Norman Halls professor of philosophy at Indiana University and has held professorships and visiting appointments at numerous universities in the United States and Europe. In addition to popularising and clarifying the ethical thought of Immanuel Kant, Wood has also mounted arguments against the validity of 'trolley problems' in moral philosophy.

Axiological ethics

Axiological ethics is concerned with the values which we hold our ethical standards and theories up to. It questions what, if any, basis exists for such values. Through doing so, it explores the justification for our values, and examines if there is any beyond arbitrary preference. While axiological ethics can be considered a subfield within the branch of ethics, it also draws in thought from other fields of philosophy, such as epistemology and value theory.

References

  1. Kant, Immanuel (1993). Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals. Translated by James W. Ellington (3rd ed.). Hackett. p. 30. ISBN   0-87220-166-X.
  2. Kant, Immanuel (1993). Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals. Translated by James W. Ellington (3rd ed.). Hackett. p. 36. ISBN   0-87220-166-X.
  3. Kant, Immanuel (1993). Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals. Translated by James W. Ellington (3rd ed.). Hackett. p. 43. ISBN   0-87220-166-X.
  4. Thomas, Domjahn. "John Rawls and Immanuel Kant - A Comparison (seminar paper, 2006)" . Retrieved 14 August 2019.
  5. Vadim, Chaly (June 2015). "An Interpretation of Rawls' "Kantian Interpretation"". CON-TEXTOS KANTIANOS. International Journal of Philosophy (1): 142–155. doi:10.5281/zenodo.18510 . Retrieved 14 August 2019.

Bibliography

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