Throughout his life, Kant was concerned with questions about empirical psychology. He aimed to develop an empirical account of human beings, and his lectures and writings on the topic are recognizable today as properly 'psychological' treatments of human thought and behavior. In this book Patrick R. Frierson uses close analysis of relevant texts, including unpublished lectures and notes, to study Kant's account. He shows in detail how Kant explains human action, choice, and thought in empirical terms, and how a better (...) understanding of Kant's psychology can shed light on major concepts in his philosophy, including the moral law, moral responsibility, weakness of will, and cognitive error. Frierson also applies Kant's accounts of mental illness to contemporary philosophical issues. His book will interest students and scholars of Kant, the history of psychology, philosophy of psychology, and philosophy of action. (shrink)
This book offers a comprehensive account of Kant's theory of freedom and his moral anthropology. The point of departure is the apparent conflict between three claims to which Kant is committed: that human beings are transcendentally free, that moral anthropology studies the empirical influences on human beings, and that more anthropology is morally relevant. Frierson shows why this conflict is only apparent. He draws on Kant's transcendental idealism and his theory of the will and describes how empirical influences can affect (...) the empirical expression of one's will in a way that is morally significant but still consistent with Kant's concept of freedom. As a work which integrates Kant's anthropology with his philosophy as a whole, this book will be an unusually important source of study for all Kant scholars and advanced students of Kant. (shrink)
This paper lays out the moral theory of philosopher and educator Maria Montessori. Based on a moral epistemology wherein moral concepts are grounded in a well-cultivated moral sense, Montessori develops a threefold account of moral life. She starts with an account of character as an ideal of individual self-perfection through concentrated attention on effortful work. She shows how respect for others grows from and supplements individual character, and she further develops a notion of social solidarity that goes beyond cooperation toward (...) shared agency. Partly because she attends to children's ethical lives, Montessori highlights how character, respect, and solidarity all appear first as prereflective, embodied orientations of agency. Full moral virtue takes up prereflective orientations reflectively and extends them through moral concepts. Overall, Montessori's ethic improves on features similar to some in Nietzschean, Kantian, Hegelian, or Aristotelian ethical theories while situating these within a developmental and perfectionist ethics. (shrink)
In recent years, several philosophers have used “situationist” findings in social psychology to criticize character-based ethical theories. After showing how these criticisms apply, prima facie, to Kant’s moral theory, I lay out a Kantian response to them. Kant admits the empirical reality of situation-dependence in human actions but articulates a conception of “ought implies can” that vindicates his character-based moral theory in the face of rarity of character. Moreover, he provides an interpretive framework for the situation-dependence of human motivation in (...) terms of humans’ “propensity to evil.” He also provides a framework for highlighting empirical bases for moral hope, a framework that makes it possible to see lack of character as something human beings can overcome. And he outlines a “moral anthropology” that develops something akin to what Mark Alfano calls “moral technologies,” but in Kant’s case, these technologies focus on cultivating character as such rather than merely good behavioral outcomes. (shrink)
In the first Critique, Kant says, “[A]ll the actions of a human being are determined in accord with the order of nature,” adding that “if we could investigate all the appearances . . . there would be no human action we could not predict with certainty.” Most Kantian treatments of human action discuss action from a practical perspective, according to which human beings are transcendentally free, and thus do not sufficiently lay out this Kant’s empirical, causal description of human action. (...) Drawing on Kant’s lectures in empirical psychology and his anthropological writings, this paper offers a clear and detailed elucidation of Kant’s empirical account of human action. After explaining the connection between cognitions, feelings, desires, and actions, I show how the lower faculty of desire is governed by various instincts, inclinations, and propensities, and how the higher faculty of desire is governed by (empirical) character. I also discuss how character and inclinations arise from natural human propensities combined with other empirical causes. By looking at both Kant’s faculty psychology and his account of predispositions, I lay out an overall Kantian framework for explaining any kind of human action. (shrink)
In his Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals , Kant explains that ethics, like physics, ‘will have its empirical part, but it will also have a rational part, … though here [in ethics] the empirical part might be given the special name practical anthropology’ . In the Groundwork, Kant suggests that anthropology, or the ‘power of judgment sharpened by experience’, has two roles, ‘to distinguish in what cases [moral laws] are applicable’ and ‘to gain for [moral laws] access to the (...) human will’ . Twelve years later, the first function, of applying the categorical imperative to specifically human situations, is incorporated into Kant's Metaphysics of Morals. (shrink)
Patrick Frierson - Learning to Love: From Egoism to Generosity in Descartes - Journal of the History of Philosophy 40:3 Journal of the History of Philosophy 40.3 313-338 Learning to Love: From Egoism to Generosity in Descartes Patrick R. Frierson The whole of philosophy is like a tree. The roots are metaphysics, the trunk is physics, and the branches emerging from the trunk are all the other sciences, which may be reduced to three principal ones, namely medicine, mechanics, and morals. (...) Descartes is well known for his metaphysics and physics, the roots and trunk of his philosophical project. But Descartes's morals are generally neglected, partly because they are so difficult to find. He does not dedicate a major published work to morality. His most direct comments on it are in letters to Princess Elizabeth and Pierre Chanut. The published work that most touches on moral issues is The Passions of the Soul, which is primarily a treatise on the relationship between mind and body. As a result of this lack of primary sources , there have been only a few significant studies of Descartes's moral philosophy in French, and only two major works devoted to it in English. This neglect of Descartes's ethics is unfortunate, not least since ethical concerns sometimes influence his work in other areas. This.. (shrink)
Philosophers, anthropologists and biologists have long puzzled over the question of human nature. It is also a question that Kant thought about deeply and returned to in many of his writings. In this lucid and wide-ranging introduction to Kant’s philosophy of human nature - which is essential for understanding his thought as a whole - Patrick R. Frierson assesses Kant’s theories and examines his critics. He begins by explaining how Kant articulates three ways of addressing the question ‘what is the (...) human being?’: the transcendental, the empirical, and the pragmatic. He then considers some of the great theorists of human nature who wrestle with Kant’s views, such as Hegel, Marx, Darwin, Nietzsche, and Freud; contemporary thinkers such as E.O.Wilson and Daniel Dennett, who have sought biological explanations of human nature; Thomas Kuhn, Michel Foucault, and Clifford Geertz, who emphasize the diversity of human beings in different times and places; and existentialist philosophers such as Sartre and Heidegger. He argues that whilst these approaches challenge and enrich Kant’s views in significant ways, all suffer from serious weaknesses that Kant’s anthropology can address. Taking a core insight of Kant’s - that human beings are fundamentally free but finite - he argues that it is the existentialists, particularly Sartre, who are the most direct heirs of his transcendental anthropology. The final part of the book is an extremely helpful overview of the work of contemporary philosophers, particularly Christine Korsgaard and Jürgen Habermas. Patrick R. Frierson explains how these philosophers engage with questions of naturalism, historicism, and existentialism while developing Kantian conceptions of the human being. Including chapter summaries and annotated further reading, What is the Human Being? is an outstanding introduction to some fundamental aspects of Kant’s thought and a judicious assessment of leading theories of human nature. It is essential reading for all students of Kant and the philosophy of human nature, as well as those in related disciplines such as anthropology, politics and sociology. (shrink)
This article draws on Martha Nussbaum's distinction between basic, internal, and external capacities to better specify possible locations for children's ‘incapacity’ for autonomy. I then examine Maria Montessori's work on what she calls ‘normalization’, which involves a release of children's capacities for autonomy and self-governance made possible by being provided with the right kind of environment. Using Montessori, I argue that, in contrast to many ordinary and philosophical assumptions, children's incapacities for autonomy are best understood as consequences of an absence (...) of external conditions necessary for children to exercise capacities they already have internally, rather than intrinsic limitations based on their stage of life. In a closing section, I show how Montessori proposes a model wherein both children and adults have autonomy, power, and responsibility, but over different spheres, and suggest implications of these differences for who has responsibility for establishing the conditions under which children can flourish. (shrink)
As J. Baird Callicott has argued, Adam Smith's moral theory is a philosophical ancestor of recent work in environmental ethics. However, Smith's "all important emotion of sympathy" (Callicott, 2001, p. 209) seems incapable of extension to entities that lack emotions with which one can sympathize. Drawing on the distinctive account of sympathy developed in Smith's Theory of Moral Sentiments, as well as his account of anthropomorphizing nature in "History of Astronomy and Physics," I show that sympathy with non-sentient nature is (...) possible within a Smithian ethics. This provides the possibility of extending sympathy, and thereby benevolence and justice, to nature. (shrink)
This paper lays out the epistemology of Maria Montessori . I start with what I call Montessori's ‘interested empiricism’, her empiricist emphasis on the foundational role of the senses combined with her insistence that all cognition is infused with ‘interest’. I then discuss the unconscious. Partly because of her emphasis on early childhood, Montessori puts great emphasis on unconscious cognitive processes and develops a conceptual vocabulary to make sense of the continuity between conscious and unconscious processes. The final sections turn (...) to two brief but important applications of this general epistemic framework, the importance of ‘meditation’ as an epistemic practice and Montessori's accounts of epistemic virtues. (shrink)
In the Metaphysics of Morals, Kant explains that moral anthropology studies the “subjective conditions in human nature that help or hinder [people] in fulfilling the laws of a metaphysics of morals” and insists that such anthropology “cannot be dispensed with” (6:217).1 But it is often difficult to find clear evidence of this sort of anthropology in Kant’s own works. in this paper, i discuss Kant’s account of character as an example of Kantian moral anthropology.
In “Kant and Degrees of Responsibility,” Joe Saunders claims that “Degrees of responsibility are important for both our moral and legal practices” and argues that “transcendental idealism precludes Kant from vindicating these judgments [about degrees of responsibility]” ; thus, we have reasons to reject Kant’s transcendental idealism. In this paper, I show how Kant’s transcendental idealism can accommodate and provide a metaphysical account for degrees of responsibility. Whether this “vindicates” such judgments depends upon how much one expects a philosophical account (...) to do; I defend modesty there while admitting a reasonable desire for reflection on how we can and should make such judgments. Finally, I raise the question of just how important judgments of moral responsibility are. Rather than looking to metaphysics to figure out how to vindicate judgments about degrees of responsibility, I suggest we look to the practical purposes such judgments serve. (shrink)
This paper elucidates the core principles of Maria Montessori's metaphysics. Her attention to embryological, evolutionary, and educational development led to her teleological metaphysics of life. Individual organisms are governed by internally driven, perfectionist, discontinuous teleology. And this individual teleology is integrated into a holistic, ecological context whereby individuals' striving towards perfection works for the increased ordered complexity of the systems of which they are parts. Moreover, Montessori extends this metaphysics of life to include nonliving components of nature, such that atoms, (...) planets, and inorganic molecules are governed by the same general teleological structure. (shrink)
Patrick R. Frierson - Character and Evil in Kant's Moral Anthropology - Journal of the History of Philosophy 44:4 Journal of the History of Philosophy 44.4 623-634 Muse Search Journals This Journal Contents Character and Evil in Kant's Moral Anthropology Patrick Frierson In the Metaphysics of Morals, Kant explains that moral anthropology studies the "subjective conditions in human nature that help or hinder [people] in fulfilling the laws of a metaphysics of morals" and insists that such anthropology "cannot be dispensed (...) with". But it is often difficult to find clear evidence of this sort of anthropology in Kant's own works. In this paper, I discuss Kant's account of character as an example of Kantian moral anthropology. Kant's account of character is one of the most important parts of his Anthropology from a Pragmatic Point of View. Kant describes the character of the person, in particular, as the "distinguishing mark of the human being as a rational being endowed with freedom" and says that character "indicates what the human being is prepared to make of himself". Recently, Kant commentators have gone even further. G. Felicitas Munzel, for example, claims that character is "the systematic link between the moral, aesthetic, and anthropological elements of Kant's works." This paper will not investigate the full richness of Kant's account of character. Instead, I focus on one particular problem that arises in Kant's discussion of... (shrink)
Adam Smith is not an environmentalist, but he articulated an ethical theory that is increasingly recognized as a fruitful source of environmental ethics. In the context of this theory, Smith illustrates in a particularly valuable way the role that anthropocentric, utilitarian metastandards can play in defending nonanthropocentric, nonutilitarian ethical standpoints. There are four roles that an anthropocentricmetastandard can play in defending an ecocentric ethical standpoint such as Aldo Leopold’s land ethic. First, this metastandard helps reconcile ecocentrism with theodicy, either of (...) the religious sort—showing that God is good—or of the evolutionary sort—showing that ecocentrism is consistent with human ethical dispositions as evolved through a process of natural selection. Second, using anthropocentrism as a metastandard helps reconcile our moral interest in human welfare with a thoroughly ecocentric standpoint. Third, defending ecocentrism by appeal to an anthropocentric metastandard provides a way of swaying die-hard anthropocentrists to adopt a more ecocentric perspective without showing disrespect to nature in the process. Finally, the systematic quasi-ecological connection between ecocentrism as an ethical standard and anthropocentrism as a metastandard has a beauty of its own that can provide additional motive to adhere to ecocentric ethical norms. (shrink)
This paper shows how Maria Montessori's thought can enrich contemporary virtue epistemology. After a short overview of her ‘interested empiricist’ epistemological framework, I discuss four representative intellectual virtues: sensory acuity, physical dexterity, intellectual love, and intellectual humility. Throughout, I show how Montessori bridges the divide between reliabilist and responsibilist approaches to the virtues and how her particular treatments of virtues offer distinctive and compelling alternatives to contemporary accounts. For instance, she emphasizes how sensory acuity is a virtue for which one (...) can be responsible, highlights the embodied nature of cognition through a focus on physical dexterity, interprets intellectual love as a way of loving the world rather than as a love that takes knowledge as its object, and presents an alternative account of intellectual humility to contemporary emphases on the interpersonal dimensions of this virtue. (shrink)
Through philosophical analysis of Montessori’s critiques of psychology, I aim to show the enduring relevance of those critiques. Maria Montessori sees experimental psychology as fundamental to philosophy and pedagogy, but she objects to the experimental psychology of her day in four ways: as disconnected from practice, as myopic, as based excessively on methods from physical sciences, and—most fundamentally—as offering detailed examinations of human beings (particularly children) under abnormal conditions. In place of these prevailing norms, Montessori suggests a model of the (...) teacher-scientist in a specially prepared environment, who can engage in sustained and impassioned observation of “normalized” children. Drawing from a variety of texts and recently published lectures, this article lays out Montessori’s philosophy of experimental psychology and briefly discusses its relevance today. (shrink)
This paper explains the empirical markers by which Kant thinks that one can identify moral responsibility. After explaining the problem of discerning such markers within a Kantian framework, I briefly explain Kant’s empirical psychology. I then argue that Kant’s empirical markers for moral responsibility—linked to higher faculties of cognition—are not sufficient conditions for moral responsibility, primarily because they are empirical characteristics subject to natural laws. Next, I argue that these markers are not necessary conditions of moral responsibility. Given Kant’s transcendental (...) idealism, even an entity that lacks these markers could be free and morally responsible, although as a matter of fact Kant thinks that none are. Given that they are neither necessary nor sufficient conditions, I discuss the status of Kant’s claim that higher faculties are empirical markers of moral responsibility. Drawing on connections between Kant’s ethical theory and ‘common rational cognition’, I suggest that Kant’s theory of empirical markers can be traced to ordinary common sense beliefs about responsibility. This suggestion helps explain both why empirical markers are important and what the limits of empirical psychology are within Kant’s account of moral responsibility.Keywords: Immanuel Kant; Moral responsibility; Freedom; Empirical psychology; Transcendental idealism; Reason; Common sense; Anthropology. (shrink)
For Kant, cosmopolitan ethical community is a necessary response to humans’ radical evil. To be cosmopolitan, this community must not depend on particular historical religions. But Kant’s defense of ethical community uses Christian concepts such as providence and divine mercy. This paper explores two ways—one more liberal and the other more religious—to relate the theological commitments underlying ethical cosmopolitanism with the non-dogmatic nature of Kantian religion.
As J. Baird Callicott has argued, Adam Smith’s moral theory is a philosophical ancestor of recent work in environmental ethics. However, Smith’s “all important emotion of sympathy” (Callicott 2001: 209) seems incapable of extension to entities that lack emotions with which one can sympathize. Drawing on the distinctive account of sympathy developed in Smith’s Theory of Moral Sentiments , as well as his account of anthropomorphizing nature in “History of Astronomy and Physics,” I show that sympathy with non-sentient nature is (...) possible within a Smithian ethics. This provides the possibility of extending sympathy, and thereby benevolence and justice, to nature. (shrink)
Both neokantian moral theorists and Kant scholars have begun to incorporate Kant's moral anthropology. The result has been kantian moral theory that pays attention to character, virtue, and the richness of human life, and that takes seriously Kant's own conception of the importance for ethics of moral anthropology. But there is an apparent conflict between Kant's anthropological insights into empirical helps and hindrances to developing moral character and his insistence that transcendental freedom is a condition of the possibility of moral (...) responsibility. ;This problem was originally raised in Schleiermacher's review of Kant's published Anthropology, and hence I call it "Schleiermacher's dilemma." As Schleiermacher points out, Kant's account of freedom implies a fundamental priority of freedom. Free choices can be ultimate grounds of events in the world, but one cannot similarly consider events in the world ultimate grounds of choice. At the same time, Kant's anthropology is both empirical and morally significant. His anthropological accounts of politeness, emotions, and character are all accounts of empirical influences that help or hinder having a good will. ;Contemporary kantian moral theorists have not sufficiently addressed this tension. Some offer promising possibilities for moral anthropology, but either fail to recognize the full moral significance of empirical influences or sacrifice Kant's theory of freedom. My dissertation fills this gap. I reconcile Kant's moral anthropology to his theory of freedom by clearly articulating Kant's notion of a free will "in revolution" against evil. By making clear the relationship between this will and its appearance in the world, an appearance that takes the form of a struggle against evil, I argue that promoting empirical aids to moral "progress" expresses a good will. This preserves the priority of freedom over empirical influences without undermining the moral significance of those influences. I show how this "expression" model of moral anthropology applies to cases of interpersonal moral influence, and I show how far Kant can allow for such influence. Finally, I compare Kant's ethics with Schleiermacher's soft determinist moral theory to show both the limitations and the strengths of Kant's conception of moral anthropology. (shrink)
This volume collects Kant's most important ethical and anthropological writings from the 1760s, before he developed his critical philosophy. The materials presented here range from the Observations, one of Kant's most elegantly written and immediately popular texts, to the accompanying Remarks which Kant wrote in his personal copy of the Observations and which are translated here in their entirety for the first time. This edition also includes little-known essays as well as personal notes and fragments that reveal the emergence of (...) Kant's complex philosophical ideas. Those familiar with Kant's later works will discover a Kant interested in the 'beauty' as well as the 'dignity' of humanity, in human diversity as well as the universality of morals, and in practical concerns rather than abstract philosophizing. Readers will be able to see Kant's development from the Observations through the Remarks towards the moral philosophy that eventually made him famous. (shrink)
This article offers an explanation and analysis of Kant’s philosophy of religion. It starts with Kant’s criticisms of the ontological, cosmological, and physico-teleological arguments for the existence of God from the ’Critique of Pure Reason’. It then explains Kant’s moral arguments in the ’Critique of Practical Reason’ for the existence and nature of God and for humans’ personal immorality. Finally, it lays out the argument for the necessity of grace from Kant’s ’Religion within the Boundaries of Mere Reaso.'.
Frederick Beiser continues to unfold the German philosophical tradition, refusing to let a static and narrowly construed canon of "big names" obscure important philosophical debates in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Germany. Weltschmerz focuses on the pessimism controversy, the debate over "the thesis that life is not worth living, that nothingness is better than being, or that it is worse to be than not be".The most important philosopher in the book is Arthur Schopenhauer. Chapters 1–4 are devoted to Schopenhauer's legacy, metaphysics, pessimism, (...) and "the illusion of redemption." Chapter 1 lays out important information about Schopenhauer's central role in German philosophy in the latter half of the... (shrink)
The Naked Self is a great book. It is good Kierkegaard scholarship and an excellent model of bringing history of philosophy to bear on contemporary metaphysics. After a stage-setting introduction, the book has eight main chapters and a conclusion including questions and answers from an imagined interlocutor. Stokes takes the reader from how “Kierkegaard’s phenomenology of self-experience may… be a useful resource for neo-Lockean metaphysics” to a sustained defense that “Kierkegaard himself is playing a different, and altogether more interesting, game”.Stokes’s (...) boldness is evident in his title, which remains mysterious until late in the book. Stokes draws on two key passages... (shrink)
This paper explores the relationship between empirical psychology, transcendental critique, and phenomenology in Kant’s discussion of respect for the moral law, particularly as that is found in the Critique of Practical Reason. I first offer an empirical-psychological reading of moral respect, in the context of which I distinguish transcendental and empirical perspectives on moral action and defend H. J. Paton’s claim that moral motivation can be seen from two points of view, where “from one point of view, [respect] is the (...) cause of our action, but from another point of view the moral law is its ground.” Then, after a discussion of a distinction between first- and second-order transcendental/practical perspectives where reasons for action are first-order practical judgments while the conditions of possibility for those reasons’ authority are expressed in second-order judgments, I turn to a third kind of perspective: the properly phenomenological one. I explain the general notion of Kantian phenomenology with an example of the experience of time from Kant’s Anthropology before applying this to a phenomenological reading of the discussion of respect in the Critique of Practical Reason. I end by noting that on my account, in contrast to that of Jeanine Grenberg, the distinctive phenomenology of respect is not systematically important for grounding claims in moral philosophy. (shrink)
In 1773, Kant cancelled a course in theoretical physics – due to lack of enrollment – and taught “Anthropology” in its place. From that time, Kant taught Anthropology every winter semester until he retired in 1796. The anthropology course was one of two courses in “Weltkenntnis” that Kant taught every year. The other, physical geography, was taught in the Summer semester. When he retired, Kant compiled the notes from his anthropology lecture course into Anthropologie in pragmatischer Hinsicht, the last publication (...) before his death in 1804. The book was meant both as a “Handbuch” (7:122) and as a popular work, that could “von jedermann selbst von der Dame bey der Toilette gelesen warden” (25: 856-7, cf. 25: 1213). 2000 copies of this work were published in its first printing, more that any of Kant’s previous works (cf. Brandt 1999), and the book was reviewed at least 11 times within two years of its publication, including a now famous review by Friedrich Schleiermacher (initially published in the Athaeneaum, reprinted in Vörlander 1980). (shrink)
A wealthy eccentric bought a house in a neighborhood I know. Â The house was surrounded by a beautiful display of grass, plants, and flowers, and it was shaded by a huge old avocado tree.Â But the grass required cutting, the flowers needed tending, and the man wanted more sun.Â So he cut the whole lot down and covered the yard with asphalt.Â After all it was his property and he was not fond of plants. (Hill 1983: 98).
In recent years, philosophers and psychologists have criticized character- or virtue-based normative theories on the basis that human behavior and cognition depend more on situation than on traits of character. This set of criticisms, which initially aimed at broadly Aristotelian virtue theories in ethics, has expanded to target a wide range of approaches in both ethics and, recently, epistemology. In this essay, I draw on the works of Maria Montessori to defend her conception of character and particularly of intellectual virtue (...) in the light of situationist objections. I start with an overview of the situationist challenge before turning to some reasons to think that Montessori’s virtue epistemology might be susceptible to it. I then offer a brief discussion of Montessori’s approach to character. After laying out two ways that Montessori, like recent conservative defenses of virtue epistemology, deflates the significance of situationist findings, I show some ways that Montessori’s virtue epistemology resembles so-called “accommodationist” responses to situationism. (shrink)
Angaben zur Person Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) was born in the Calvinist city-state of Geneva on June 28, 1712. The epoch-making moment” in Rousseau’s life came in 1749, when he fell across the question of the Academy of Dijon which gave rise to my first writing” OC I, 1135). The question was “Whether the restoration of the Sciences and Arts has contributed to the purification of morals.” Rousseau’s answer to that question – a decisive No – was his Discourse on the (...) Origin of the Arts and Sciences , which won the prize for that year and set off firestorms in Europe with a ringing moral indictment of the Enlightenment. In succeeding years, Rousseau published several works, most notably his second Discourse (on inequality, 1755), his novel Julie (1760), his treatise on education Emile, 1762), the Social Contract (1762), and a series of more minor works (including important letters on theatre and on providence). (shrink)