Descartes began with the mind as the organ of reason and focused on the process of rationalizing British empiricists took the second step in the turn, demonstrating the importance of experience and the limits of reasonKant’s is the final step Critical analysis of what kind of knowledge we actually have And how the mind interacts with impressions and perceptionsKant wanted to prove that there is an objective world external to usand that our minds can interact with it Because our minds have the capacity for a priori knowledge we can know certain things about experience because they line up with innate ideas
Kant turned to an analysis (or critique) of how knowledge is possible. He posited an underlying structure imposed by the mind on the sensations and perceptions it encounters.Transcendental idealism claims that knowledge is theresult of the interaction between the mind andsensation. Experience is shaped, or structured, by special regulative ideas called categories. Kant suggested that instead of mind having to conform to what can be known, what can be known must conform to the mind.
Like colored glasses,experience is filtered by thecategories of our minds.Space, time, causality, etc. We understand experiences based on these categories because our minds are set up to work this way.
The phenomenal realm is what we perceive The noumenal realm is objective, comprised of things-in-themselvesWhat is the point of the phenomenal/noumenal duality?First, it explains the limits of our understanding He refutes the empiricist position that we simply cannot know anything through reason We can know a great deal of things, even if it’s not everythingSecond, this distinction is important for his moral philosophy Important that there be a level of objective reality behind, or beyond, what we experience Proposed transcendental ideas as the things that bridge this gap These would be a priori, not ideas derived from experience “Triggered” by experience They can validate and unify our experiences
Kant notes that very few people consistently think of their own moral judgments as mere matters of custom or taste, as Hume would have us believe. Whether we actually live up to our moral judgments or not, we think of them as concerned with how people ought to behave. Just as we cannot think or experience without assuming the principle of cause and effect, Kant thought we cannot function without a sense of duty.
It is important to note that Kant conceives of the good will as a component of rationality, the only thing which is “good in itself.” Kant argues that “ought implies can” – by which he means it must be possible for human beings to live up to their moral obligations (since circumstances can prevent us from doing the good we want to do). Thus, Kant reasons, I must not be judged on the consequences of what I actually do, but on my reasons. Put another way, morality is a matter of motives. Intentions are what matters. As Kant himself said, “Morality is not properly the doctrine of how we should make ourselves happy, but how we should become worthy of happiness.”
Inclinations are unreliable and inconstant, and so not what morality should be based on. Inclinations are not produced by reason. Animals act from inclination, not from will. In contrast to inclinations, acts of will reflect autonomy, the capacity to choose clearly and freely for ourselves. Autonomy, or the ability to choose, is commonly understood as a requirement for moral responsibility. Kant says, “Duty is the necessity of acting from respect for the moral law.” Duty does not serve our desires and preferences, but, rather, overpowers them. Such moral duty cannot be based on what an individual wants to do, what he or she likes or doesn’t like, or whether or not the individual cares about the people involved.
Imperatives are forms of speech that commandsomeone, or tell them what to do. Kant distinguishestwo types of imperatives: hypothetical and categorical.Hypothetical imperative: a practical necessity whichserves as a means to some purpose. Hypothetical imperatives tell us what to do under specific, variable conditions. They take the form, “If this, then do that.” Any time we settle upon some purpose or goal, we reason how to achieve it. Subjective to our situation.
Categorical imperatives tells us what to do in order forour act to have moral worth. The categorical imperative is universally binding on all rational creatures, and this alone can guide the good will (which summons our powers to obey such an imperative). “I am never to act otherwise than so that I could also will that my maxim should become a universal law” (First formulation) We should act in such a way that we would want the motivating principle of our action to become a universal law.
Kant believed that as conscious, rational creatures, weeach possess intrinsic worth, a special moral dignity thatalways deserves respect. In other words, we are more than mere objects to be used to further this or that end.Kant formulates the categorical imperative around theconcept of dignity – sometimes referred to as thepractical imperative. “Act in such a way that you always treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of another, never merely as a means but always at the same time as an end” (Second formulation)
Strengths: Universality Reason Respect for personsProblems: Reason Motives alone Conflicts of interest
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