Kantian: Wikis

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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.

Contents

Ethics

Kant's ethics are deontological, revolving entirely around duty rather than emotional feelings or end goals. All actions are performed in accordance with some underlying maxim or principle; 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.

Simply put, this criterion amounts to a thought experiment: to attempt to universalize the maxim (imagine 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 a world which would soon be devoid of people and without anyone left to kill. Thus holding this maxim is irrational as it ends up being impossible to hold it.

Universalizing a maxim 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 Formulation Rule of Kantianism:

  1. Act only according to that maxim by which you can at the same time will that it would become a universal law.
  2. Act so that you always treat others as an end, and never as a means to an end only.

Teleology

In teleology, Kant's positions were neglected for many years because in the minds of many scientists they were associated with vitalist views of evolution. Their gradual rehabilitation recently is evident in teleonomy which bears a number of features, such as the description of organisms, that are reminiscent of the Kantian conception of final causes as essentially recursive in nature. The gist of Kant's position is that even though we cannot know whether there are final causes in nature, we are constrained by the peculiar nature of the human understanding to view organisms teleologically. Thus, teleology is a necessary principle for the study of organisms, but it is only a regulative principle, with no ontological implications.

Political philosophy

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

Bibliography

  • Henry Allison (2004) Kant's transcendental Idealism (Yale University Press)
  • Thomas Auxter (1982) Kant's Moral Teleology (Mercer University Press)
  • Lewis White Beck (1960) A Commentary on Kant's Critique of Practical Reason (University of Chicago Press)
  • R. Beiner and W.J. Booth (eds.) (1993) Kant and Political Philosophy (Yale University Press)
  • Gary Banham (2000) Kant and the Ends of Aesthetics (Macmillan)
  • Gary Banham (2000) "Teleology, Transcendental Reflection and Artificial Life" Tekhnehma: Journal of Philosophy and Technology Number 6.
  • Gary Banham (2003) Kant's Practical Philosophy: From Critique to Doctrine (Palgrave Macmillan)
  • Gary Banham (2006) Kant's Transcendental Imagination (Palgrave Macmillan)
  • Howard Caygill (1989) Art of Judgment (Blackwell)
  • Howard Caygill (1995) A Kant Dictionary (Blackwell)
  • Mary Gregor (1963) Laws of Freedom: A Study of Kant's Method of Applying the Categorical Imperative in the Metaphysik Der Sitten (Basil Blackwell)
  • Stephen Palmquist (1993), Kant's System of Perspectives (University Press of America)
  • Stephen Palmquist (2000), Kant's Critical Religion (Ashgate)
  • John Rawls (2000) Lectures on the History of Moral Philosophy (Harvard University Press)

See also

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Wiktionary

Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

Contents

English

Alternative spellings

Etymology

From Kant + -ian

Adjective

Kantian (comparative more Kantian, superlative most Kantian)

Positive
Kantian

Comparative
more Kantian

Superlative
most Kantian

  1. (philosophy) Of, pertaining to, or resembling the philosophical views of Immanuel Kant (1724-1804).
    • 1964, James M. Edie, "Transcendental Phenomenology and Existentialism," Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, vol. 25, no. 1 (Sep.), p. 59,
      Gurwitsch's notion of the perceptual noema as a completely idealized phenomenon is more Kantian than Husserlian.

Synonyms

  • Kantianist
  • Kantist (archaic)

Derived terms

Coordinate terms

Noun

Singular
Kantian

Plural
Kantians

Kantian (plural Kantians)

  1. (philosophy) A person who subscribes to philosophical views associated with Immanuel Kant.

Anagrams


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