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Symposium Practical reason, desire and the will in Kantian moral philosophy
31 May 2013 @ 09:30 - 17:15|
Invitation symposium Practical reason, desire and the will in Kantian moral philosophy
Practical reason is a core concept in Kantian moral philosophy. The hypothetical imperatives (of instrumental reason and prudence), and the categorical imperative (of morality) are requirements of reason. There is controversy, however, on the precise roles of reason, desire and the will in the justification of these requirements, and in acting (or the failure to act) on them.
Does moral wrongdoing involve intellectual failure or rather clearheaded, willful badness? Does the principle of instrumental reason depend on the categorical imperative, or can it stand alone? Can substantive moral duties be justified on the basis of pure reason, or does inclination (or unmotivated desire) play an essential role?
The symposium will be followed by the public defense of Frederike Kaldewaij’s dissertation The animal in morality: Justifying duties to animals in Kantian moral philosophy.
Date: Friday 31 May 2013
Location: Belle van Zuylenzaal, Academiegebouw, Universiteit Utrecht, Domplein 29, Utrecht.
Registration: required but free of charge. Please send an email to Frederike.Kaldewaij@phil.uu.nl
9.30 Welcome, with coffee and tea
10.15 Dr. Jens Timmermann (University of St. Andrews and WWU Münster), Incorporating Incentives and Practical Irrationality
11.30 Prof.dr. Klaus Steigleder (Ruhr-Universität Bochum), The Self-Sufficiency of Instrumental Reason. A Defense of Kant’s Theory of Hypothetical Imperatives
13.45 Drs. Frederike Kaldewaij (Universiteit Utrecht), The Animal in Morality: on Reason and Desire in Kantian Moral Philosophy
15.00 General discussion
15.30 Coffee and tea
The public defense of Frederike Kaldewaij’s dissertation will take place in the Senaatszaal (in the same building, Academiegebouw), from 16.15.
Jens Timmermann, Incorporating Incentives and Practical Irrationality
Somewhat surprisingly, scholars rarely directly address the question of what, according to Kant, happens when human beings act contrary to reason. Implicitly, however, Kantians in North America (e.g. A. Reath, Chr. Korsgaard) commit themselves to the thesis that Kant was an intellectualist, i.e. that rational failure is a weakness of the intellect rather than the result of an act of will. If so, it is difficult to make room for clearheaded practical irrationality and, a fortiori, moral responsibility. This line of interpretation seems to have been sparked off by a certain reading of Henry Allison’s “Incorporation Thesis”, to the effect that whenever we let an incentive determine our willing we take it to be a reason, and the resulting action to be justified. In this paper I intend to show that while intellectualism may have its place in the prudential sphere there is overwhelming textual and philosophical evidence that Kant was not an intellectualist in the moral sphere. Moral wrong-doing is likely to be clearheaded, wilful badness.
Klaus Steigleder, The Self-Sufficiency of Instrumental Reason. A Defense of Kant’s Theory of Hypothetical Imperatives
It is widely held that the standards of instrumental rationality are beyond any doubt, while claims of more comprehensive or higher forms of rationality or reasonableness are dubious. To this some philosophers have recently reacted with the claim that instrumental rationality cannot stand alone, but presupposes a higher form of rationality. There could be no hypothetical imperative without a categorical imperative. In my paper I would like to contradict this claim and to explain and defend Kant’s theory of hypothetical imperatives as an important part of his theory of practical norms. I will especially try to show that the theory does not presuppose any practical principle, as for instance a principle called “The Hypothetical Imperative”. The gist of Kant’s theory is that instrumental rationality could be self-sufficient. This is why the justification of moral norms is so difficult. The challenge of instrumental rationality persists.
Frederike Kaldewaij, The animal in morality: on reason and desire in Kantian moral philosophy
My dissertation deals with the respective roles of reason and desire (or inclination) in Kantian moral philosophy. Reason clearly plays an important role in the Kantian view of the nature and justification of moral duty. Acting on categorical duties is rationally required irrespective of whether doing so is in line with one’s unmotivated desires, or in one’s interest. I argue, however, that substantive duties to others cannot be justified on the basis of pure reason. Certain Kantian authors (e.g. Korsgaard, Gewirth, Apel, Darwall) have proposed (something that comes close to) a transcendental argument for categorical duties, designed to to show that moral agents cannot rationally deny having certain moral duties. I defend the claim that unmotivated desires play a more important role in these arguments than has been traditionally recognized. If these arguments are valid, we must recognize such desires (or one’s overall subjective good) as the basis for reasons for action, and for moral duties to others, provided that there are no overriding countervailing reasons. Otherwise reason does not prescribe actions (that are not merely indirect duties), and therefore cannot be practical. It follows from this that these arguments justify duties not only to practically rational beings, but also to beings that lack these capacities, but are capable of purposive behavior on the basis of desire (or a nonlinguistic equivalent). This means that we must reconsider the view that direct duties to animals cannot be justified in Kantian moral philosophy.
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