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Summary

Kant’s main work on teleology is contained in the Critique of the Power of Judgment (1790), especially in the second of its two main parts, “Critique of the Teleological Power of Judgment”. Most of this material is dedicated to analyzing judgment of complex systems as teleological by nature (rather than design) – and arguing that, although we can never have theoretical knowledge that anything in nature is teleological, such judgment is nonetheless necessary and beneficial for us. Kant also connects his analysis and these conclusions with his positions on religion and morality.

Key works

Responses to Kant’s treatment of teleology are especially prominent in post-Kantian German philosophy. For example, Hegel emphasizes in his Science of Logic (1812-1816) the importance of Kant’s analysis of natural teleology, but argues that we can have knowledge of real natural teleology. For comprehensive references, see the excellent online Ginsborg 2008. Some representative and important recent works are as follows: On teleology and biology, two especially important recent interpretations are Ginsborg’s (especially Ginsborg 2004) and McLaughlin’s (McLAUGHLIN 1990). On our supposed need for teleological judgment of nature, see Guyer 1990 and Ginsborg 1990. On the place of this material within the project of the third Critique, see Zuckert 2007. On the connection to morality and religion, see Guyer 2000

Introductions 1. Ginsborg 2006 2. Ginsborg 2008
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  1. Kant's Retributive Theory of Remorse, and a Non-Retributive Kantian Alternative.Benjamin Vilhauer - manuscript
    Kant’s account of the pain of remorse involves a hybrid justification based on self-retribution, but constrained by forward-looking principles which say that we must channel remorse into improvement, and moderate its pain to avoid damaging our rational agency. Kant’s corpus also offers material for a revisionist but textually-grounded alternative account based on wrongdoers’ sympathy for the pain they cause. This account is based on the value of care, and has forward-looking constraints much like Kant’s own account. Drawing on both Kant’s (...)
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  2. Two Conceptions of Kantian Autonomy.Seniye Tilev - 2021 - In The Court of Reason: Proceedings of the 13th International Kant Congress.
    How to interpret autonomy plays a crucial role that leads to different readings in Kant’s moral metaphysics, philosophy of religion and moral psychology. In this paper I argue for a two-layered conception of autonomy with varying degrees of justification for each: autonomy as a capacity and autonomy as a paragon-like paradigm. I argue that all healthy rational humans possess the inalienable capacity of autonomy, i. e. share the universal ground for the communicability of objective basic moral principles. This initial understanding (...)
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  3. The Shape of the Kantian Mind.T. A. Pendlebury - forthcoming - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research.
    Kant's readers have disagreed about whether, according to his account of cognition, concepts, representations of the understanding, are involved in intuitions, representations of sensibility. But proponents of the affirmative 'conceptualist' answer and those of the negative 'non-conceptualist' answer have alike presupposed that such involvement should be construed in a particular way: i.e., as the involvement of particular concepts in particular exercises of sensibility. I argue, on the contrary, that it should not be: that though, for Kant, no concepts are applied (...)
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  4. Ian Proops, The Fiery Test of Critique: A Reading of Kant’s Dialectic. [REVIEW]Aaron Wells - forthcoming - Philosophical Quarterly.
  5. “Reason's Sympathy” and Others' Ends in Kant.Benjamin Vilhauer - forthcoming - European Journal of Philosophy.
    Kant’s notion of (what I will call) rational sympathy solves a problem about how we can voluntarily fulfill our imperfect duty to adopt those ends of others which have value only because they have been set by rational agents, ends which I will refer to as merely permissible ends (MPEs). Others’ MPEs are individuated in terms of their own concepts of their MPEs, and we can only adopt their MPEs in terms of their concepts, since to adopt them in terms (...)
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  6. Kant, Schelling and the Organization of Matter.Dalia Nassar - 2021 - In Gerad Gentry (ed.), Kantian Legacies in German Idealism. Routledge.
    Over the last two decades there has been a significant increase of interest in Schelling’s philosophy, and in particular his philosophy of nature. However, even the most generous of Schelling’s interpreters are confused by one of Schelling’s key theses: his view that nature as a whole (including non-living nature) is “organized,” and his related rejection of the hard-and-fast distinction between living and non-living. My aim is to offer an explanation of these two related points. Given that Schelling regards all of (...)
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  7. Paula Órdenes and Anna Pickhan (Eds), Teleologische Reflexion in Kants Philosophie, Wiesbaden: Springer, 2019 Pp. Ix + 302 ISBN 9783658236939 (Pbk) €39.99. [REVIEW]Anton Kabeshkin - 2020 - Kantian Review 25 (3):508-513.
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  8. Michel Chaouli, Thinking with Kant's Critique of Judgment Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2017 Pp. 315ISBN 9780674971363 (Hbk) $44.56. [REVIEW]Moran Godess-Riccitelli - 2020 - Kantian Review 25 (2):313-317.
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  9. Analogical Reflection as a Source for the Science of Life: Kant and the Possibility of the Biological Sciences.Dalia Nassar - 2016 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 2016 (58):57-66.
    In contrast to the previously widespread view that Kant's work was largely in dialogue with the physical sciences, recent scholarship has highlighted Kant's interest in and contributions to the life sciences. Scholars are now investigating the extent to which Kant appealed to and incorporated insights from the life sciences and considering the ways he may have contributed to a new conception of living beings. The scholarship remains, however, divided in its interest: historians of science are concerned with the content of (...)
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  10. Is Intuitive Teleological Reasoning Promiscuous?Johan De Smedt & Helen De Cruz - 2020 - In William Gibson, Dan O'brien & Marius Turda (eds.), Teleology and Modernity. Abingdon and New York: Routledge. pp. 185-202.
    Humans have a tendency to reason teleologically. This tendency is more pronounced under time pressure, in people with little formal schooling and in patients with Alzheimer’s. This has led some cognitive scientists of religion, notably Kelemen, to call intuitive teleological reasoning promiscuous, by which they mean teleology is applied to domains where it is unwarranted. We examine these claims using Kant’s idea of the transcendental illusion in the first Critique and his views on the regulative function of teleological reasoning in (...)
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  11. Rudolf Langthaler: Kant über den Glauben und die „Selbsterhaltung der Vernunft“. Sein Weg von der „Kritik“ zur „eigentlichen Metaphysik“ - und darüber hinaus. 398 Seiten. Freiburg/München, Alber 2018; ISBN 978-3-49548985-7. [REVIEW]Robert Theis - 2019 - Kant-Studien 110 (3):519-525.
  12. The Oxford Handbook of Kant.Andrew Stephenson & Anil Gomes (eds.) - forthcoming - Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
  13. Kant on Human Progress and Global Inequality.Fausto Corvino - 2019 - Revista Portuguesa de Filosofia 75 (1):477-512.
    In this article I discuss whether from Kant’s philosophy we can determine a moral duty to deal with global inequality, a problem that in Kant’s time was inexistent since it is a modern trend resulting from the industrial revolution. In doing this, I consider three main issues related to Kant’s thought and partially re-developed by contemporary authors: the individual moral duty to collaborate with nature’s purposiveness, which is aimed at attaining perpetual peace through humans fully developing their capacities, the normative (...)
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  14. Organisms and the Form of Freedom in Kant's Third Critique.Naomi Fisher - 2019 - European Journal of Philosophy 27 (1):55-74.
    In the second half of the third Critique, Kant develops a new form of judgment peculiar to organisms: teleological judgment. In the Appendix to this text, Kant argues that we must regard the final, unconditioned end of creation as human freedom, due to reason's demand that we regard nature as a system of ends. In this paper, I offer a novel interpretation of this argument, according to which judgments of freedom within nature are possible as instances of teleological judgment. Just (...)
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  15. Kant-Lexikon: Studienausgabe.Stefano Bacin, Georg Mohr, Marcus Willaschek & Jürgen Stolzenberg - 2017 - Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter.
    The Kant-Lexikon is a guide to the philosophical work of Immanuel Kant and incorporates the latest scholarship. This textbook edition presents the most important entries contained in the comprehensive, three-volume lexicon released in 2015.
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  16. Hannah Ginsborg, The Normativity of Nature: Essays on Kant’s Critique of Judgement Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015 Pp. 364 ISBN 9780199547982 £25.00. [REVIEW]Andrew Jones - 2016 - Kantian Review 21 (3):510-516.
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  17. P. Müller, Transzendentale Kritik und moralische Teleologie. Eine Auseinandersetzung mit den zeitgenössischen Transformationen der Transzendentalphilosophie im Hinblick auf Kant. [REVIEW]W. Steinbeck - 1988 - Kant-Studien 79 (1):107.
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  18. Baeumler, Alfred, Kants Kritik der Urteilskraft. Ihre Geschichte und Systematik. [REVIEW]Friedrich Seifert - 1927 - Kant-Studien 32:381.
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  19. Kroner, Zweck Und Gesetz in der Biologie. [REVIEW]Bruno Bauch - 1913 - Kant-Studien 18:527.
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  20. K. Düsing, Die Teleologie in Kants Weltbegriff. [REVIEW]W. Steinbeck - 1972 - Kant-Studien 63 (4):511.
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  21. H. Mertens, Kommentar Zur Ersten Einleitung in Kants Kritik der Urteilskraft. [REVIEW] E. Sandberg - 1979 - Kant-Studien 70 (1):89.
  22. Eine Neuausgabe von Stadlers Schrift über Kants Teleologie.Emil Lorenz - 1912 - Kant-Studien 17:159.
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  23. W. Bartuschat, Zum Systematischen Ort von Kants Kritik der Urteilskraft. [REVIEW]K. Düsing - 1974 - Kant-Studien 65 (2):222.
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  24. A. W. Wood , Self and Nature in Kant's Philosophy. [REVIEW]C. A. Van Kirk - 1989 - Kant-Studien 80 (3):362.
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  25. A. Model, Metaphysik Und Reflektierende Urteilskraft Bei Kant. [REVIEW]W. Steinbeck - 1989 - Kant-Studien 80 (3):360.
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  26. Menzer, Paul, Kants Lehre von der Entwickelung in Natur Und Geschichte. [REVIEW] E. Von Aster - 1911 - Kant-Studien 16:448.
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  27. Kant, Universal Natural History and Theory of the Heavens, tr. S. L. Jaki.H. L. Wilson - 1987 - Kant-Studien 78 (1):119.
  28. Kant, Universal Natural History and Theory of the Heavens.M. Kleinschnieder - 1974 - Kant-Studien 65 (3):321.
  29. I. Hermann, Kant Teleologiája. [REVIEW] E. Lengyel - 1975 - Kant-Studien 66 (2):266.
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  30. J. D. McFarland, Kant's Concept of Teleology. [REVIEW]L. Funderburk - 1971 - Kant-Studien 62 (1):137.
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  31. Kants Kritik der Urteilskraft in ihrer Beziehung zu den beiden anderen Kritiken und zu den nachkantischen Systemen.A. Dorner - 1900 - Kant-Studien 4:248.
  32. K. Kuypers, Kants Kunsttherorie Und Die Einheit der Kritik der Urteilskraft. [REVIEW]W. Steinbeck - 1973 - Kant-Studien 64 (4):515.
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  33. Th. Auxter, Kant's Moral Teleology. [REVIEW]A. Broadie - 1984 - Kant-Studien 75 (4):500.
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  34. Kant’s Principle of The Formal Finality of Nature and Its Role in Experience.Iris Fry - 1989 - International Philosophical Quarterly 29 (1):67-76.
  35. The Cambridge Companion to Kant. Edited by Paul Guyer. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press. Pp. Xii, 482. 1992. ISBN 0-521-36587-2 , 0-521-36768-9. £15.99 . - A Kant Dictionary. By H. Caygill. Oxford, Blackwell Publishers, £15.99 1995. ISBN 063-117-535-0. £15.99. [REVIEW]Kimberley Hutchings - 1998 - Kantian Review 2:157-160.
  36. The Wolffian Roots of Kant's Teleology.H. Van den Berg - unknown
  37. Is Hypothetical Reason a Precursor to Reflective Judgment?Suma Rajiva - 2006 - Kant-Studien 97 (1):114-126.
    Introduction Kant develops a positive though regulative role for reason toward the end of the Dialectic of the Critique of Pure Reason, particularly in the Appendix to the Dialectic. In the opening section, “The Regulative Employment of the Ideas of Pure Reason”, he provides us with an account of how these ideas can unify the understanding in its employment, although only regulatively. Part of this account includes a discussion of the hypothetical use of reason, in which one inspects a group (...)
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  38. The Role of Synthesis in the Critique of Judgment.Rudolf A. Makkreel - 1989 - Proceedings of the Sixth International Kant Congress 2 (2):345-355.
  39. Art, Nature and Purposiveness in Kant's Aesthetic Theory.Theodore Gracyk - 1995 - Proceedings of the Eighth International Kant Congress 2:499-507.
  40. The Antinomy of Teleological Judgment and the Concept of an Intuitive Intellect.Kevin Thompson - 1995 - Proceedings of the Eighth International Kant Congress 2:445-452.
  41. Kant.Patricia Kitcher, Philip Kitcher & Ralph C. S. Walker - 1980 - Philosophical Review 89 (2):282.
  42. The Philosopher as Legislator: Kant on History.Katerina Deligiorgi - 2017 - In .
    History plays an important part internally to the Kantian architectonic. In what follows, I argue that Kant’s conception of history as a unified whole presents distinctive features that are illuminating about the critical and moral commitments of his philosophy, and also conversely, that his conception of philosophy makes specific demands that his philosophical history aims to fulfill. The argument is structured around four questions, each of which I take in turn: Why does Kant believe it important that history be seen (...)
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  43. Kant's Third Critique: The Project of Unification.Sebastian Gardner - 2016 - Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 78:161-185.
    This paper offers a synoptic view of Kant's Critique of the Power of Judgement and its reception by the German Idealists. I begin by sketching Kant's conception of how its several parts fit together, and emphasize the way in which the specifically moral motivation of Kant's project of unification of Freedom and Nature distances it from our contemporary philosophical concerns. For the German Idealists, by contrast, the CPJ's conception of the opposition of Freedom and Nature as defining the overarching task (...)
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  44. A Commentary on Kant's Critique of Judgement.H. W. Cassirer - 1938 - Routledge.
    First published in 1938. The aim of this book is to expound Kant’s _Critique of Judgement _by interpreting all the details in the light of what Kant himself declares to be his fundamental problem. _A Commentary on Kant’s Critique of Judgement _provides an excellent introduction to Kant’s third critique, and will be of interest to students of philosophy.
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  45. Ungerer, Emil, Die Teleologie Kants Und Ihre Bedeutung Für Die Logik der Biologie. [REVIEW]Julius Schultz - 1923 - Kant-Studien 28 (1-2):446.
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  46. I. Hermann, Kant Teleologiája. [REVIEW]Emilia Lengyel - 1975 - Kant-Studien 66 (1-4).
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  47. Enthusiasm: The Kantian Critique of History.Georges Van Den Abbeele (ed.) - 2009 - Stanford University Press.
    _Enthusiasm_ studies what Kant calls a "strong" sense of the sublime, not as an aesthetic feeling but as a form of political judgment rendered not by the active participants in historical events but those who witness them from afar. Lyotard's analysis, preparatory to his work in _The Differend_ and subsequent publications, is a radical rereading of the Kantian "faculties," traditionally understood as functions of the mind, in terms of a philosophy of phrases derived from Lyotard's prior encounters with Wittgenstein's theory (...)
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  48. Kant’s Concept of Natural Purpose and the Reflecting Power of Judgement.Joan Steigerwald - 2006 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 37 (4):712-734.
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  49. Mechanical Explanation of Nature and its Limits in Kant’s Critique of Judgment.Angela Breitenbach - 2006 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 37 (4):694-711.
  50. Kant’s Political Zweckmässigkeit.Dilek Huseyinzadegan - 2015 - Kantian Review 20 (3):421-444.
    While Kants political thought, which downplay or dismiss the role of teleology, I restore Zweckms politics as a theoretically and practically useful material principle, and show that a teleological perspective complements the perspective stipulated by the formal principle of Recht. By means of a systematic reconstruction of what I call ssigkeits political thought.
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