Tuesday, September 2, Idealism

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1 Idealism

2 Enlightenment Puzzle How do these fit into a scientific picture of the world? Norms Necessity Universality Mind

3 Idealism The dominant 19th-century response: often today called anti-realism Everything is mind-dependent The world is a projection or construction of the mind Opposes Realism: Some things are independent of mind

4 Immanuel Kant

5 Copernicus

6

7

8 Kant s Copernican Revolution Do our concepts revolve around objects? (as realists think) Or do the objects revolve around our concepts?

9 Knowledge > Objects It has hitherto been assumed that our knowledge must conform to the objects; but all attempts to ascertain anything about these objects a priori, by means of concepts, and thus to extend the range of our knowledge, have been rendered abortive by this assumption. Let us then make the experiment whether we may not be more successful in metaphysics, if we assume that the objects must conform to our knowledge.

10 Kant & Copernicus We may make the same experiment with regard to the intuition of objects. If the intuition must conform to the nature of the objects, I do not see how we can know anything of them a priori. If, on the other hand, the object conforms to the nature of our faculty of intuition, I can then easily conceive the possibility of such an a priori knowledge.

11 Kant s Copernican Revolution Rationalists: universality and necessity require synthetic a priori knowledge knowledge of the world independent of experience Hume: source not in the world but in us Kant: source is within us but it is reason, not custom or habit

12 Laws of the Understanding Before objects, are given to me, that is, a priori, I must presuppose in myself laws of the understanding which are expressed in concepts a priori. To these concepts, then, all the objects of experience must necessarily conform.

13 Limits of Knowledge... we only know in things a priori that which we ourselves place in them. Laws that govern realm of experience are in us the laws of the understanding So, we can know things only as experienced by us not as they are in themselves

14 Phenomena Phenomena: appearances, objects as we perceive them Categories apply to them A priori principles apply to them We can know them with universality and necessity

15 Noumena Noumena: things-in-themselves, unconditioned by our cognitive faculties Categories don t apply to them A priori principles don t apply to them We can t know them at all

16 Kant s Ethics

17 Constructivism We construct norms, just as we construct the world of appearances, the manifest image They come from our nature as rational beings, who use practical reason to decide what to do So, they are universal and necessary

18 Categorical Imperative s Core There is one and only one thing good without qualification: a good will Categorical imperatives are unqualified, applying to anyone in any situation whatever They are appropriate only to unqualified goods So there s only one categorical imperative: Have a good will

19 Formula of Universal Law Act only according to that maxim by which you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law. (G 421; 39) Act on the basis of principle Don t make an exception for yourself

20 Formula of the Law of Nature Act as though the maxim of your action were by your will to become a universal law of nature. (G 421; 39)

21 Formula of Humanity Act so that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or in that of another, always as an end and never as a means only. (G 429; 47) Respect people Don t use them

22 Valuable in itself? Is there something that all rational beings, qua rational, value?

23 Rational Nature The ground of this principle is: rational nature exists as an end in itself. (G 4:428) Our rational nature is what gives us dignity

24

25 Formula of Humanity The practical imperative will therefore be the following: So act that you use humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, always at the same time as an end, never merely as a means. (G 4:429)

26 FH, Informally Respect people Don t use them Respect humanity

27 What Does This Mean? What does it mean to use someone merely as a means?

28 Formula of Autonomy The will of every rational being [must be seen] as making universal law. (G 431; 49) Follow the rules you establish for everyone

29 Formula of the Kingdom of Ends The rational being must regard himself always as legislative in a realm of ends. (G 434; 52) Act as if everyone were going to follow your example

30 Formula of Autonomy Universality + Ends:...the third practical principle of the will, as supreme condition of its harmony with universal practical reason, the idea of the will of every rational being as a will giving universal law. (G 4:431)

31 Giving the Law to Oneself In accordance with this principle all maxims are repudiated that are inconsistent with the will's own giving of universal law. Hence the will is not merely subject to the law but subject to it in such a way that it must be viewed as also giving the law to itself and just because of this as first subject to the law (of which it can regard itself as the author). (G 4:431; my emphasis)

32 Formula of Autonomy...the idea of the will of every rational being as a will giving universal law. (G 4:432)

33 Autonomy I will therefore call this basic principle the principle of the autonomy of the will in contrast with every other, which I accordingly count as heteronomy. (G 4:433)

34 Heteronomy Having your will constrained by something else Finding the ground of duty in your own or someone else s interests Examples?

35 Autonomy Having your will constrained only by its own universal rules Finding the ground of duty not in interests but in your own will

36 Enlightenment Rules and formulas, those mechanical aids to the rational use, or rather misuse, of his natural gifts, are the shackles of a permanent immaturity. Whoever threw them off would still make only an uncertain leap over the smallest ditch, since he is unaccustomed to this kind of free movement... But that the public should enlighten itself is more likely; indeed, if it is only allowed freedom, enlightenment is almost inevitable.

37 Enlightenment For even among the entrenched guardians of the great masses a few will always think for themselves, a few who, after having themselves thrown off the yoke of immaturity, will spread the spirit of a rational appreciation for both their own worth and for each person's calling to think for himself.

38 Enlightenment Nothing is required for this enlightenment, however, except freedom; and the freedom in question is the least harmful of all, namely, the freedom to use reason publicly in all matters.

39 G. W. F. Hegel

40 Hegel Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel ( ) was perhaps the last great philosophical system builder. His distinctively dynamic form of idealism set the stage for other nineteenth-century Western philosophers. Hegel, like Kant, is an idealist: Everything depends on mind. The world as we know it is something we construct.

41 Critique of Kant Noumena (things-in-themselves) play no role in Kantʼs system. The pure concepts of the understanding do not apply to them. So, they do not fall under the categories.

42 Critique of Kant We cannot say that things-in-themselves, in combination with our cognitive faculties, cause things to appear as they do, for causation is one of the categories. We cannot even officially say that thingsin-themselves exist!

43 Hegel s Philosophy of Mind Understanding This is a triangle Concept Appearance Sensibility Thing in itself

44 The Self The same reasoning applies to the self For Kant, my body is part of the world of appearance, governed by physical laws But I the transcendental unity of apperception, the noumenal self am free! Hegel: This division makes no sense get rid of the noumenal self

45 Historicism Kant maintained that we could have universal and necessary knowledge of the world by uncovering the laws of the understanding. To give us universal and necessary knowledge, those laws must be constant; they must be the same for each person, in all times and circumstances. Why, however, should we expect human beings to construct the world in the same way, at all times and places, in all circumstances, in all cultures?

46 Historicism Hegel contends that the way in which we construct the world develops systematically over time. Philosophy, like other aspects of human thought, thus varies with historical circumstances. Philosophy is its own time raised to the level of thought.

47 Social Character of Thought Hegel sees human thought as essentially social. The social and historical context of thought is crucial. We learn our language, which provides our basic categories of thought, from other people, at a particular time, in the context of a particular society. What Kant and other rationalists take as stemming from our nature as knowers Hegel sees as reflecting a specific social background.

48 Myth of the Given Hegel rejects what he refers to as immediacy, the sharp divide in Kant and the empiricists between sensibility and understanding between perception and conceptual knowledge. Hegel denies that we can distinguish any given, preconceptual portion of our experience. The concepts we have shape the way we perceive the world.

49 Absolute Spirit Hegel tells the story of Spirit or Mind (in German, Geist), which progresses through a variety of stages to reach Absolute Knowledge.

50 Dynamic Principles This is not to say that philosophy cannot express any universal or necessary truths. What stays constant across historical circumstances are not a priori propositions or innate concepts but the set of dynamic principles governing the development of our ways of constructing the world.

51 Dynamic Principles Hegel finds some universal and necessary truths. But they are high-level, dynamic principles governing the development of thought. The best known is the thesis-antithesissynthesis pattern.

52 Hegel s Historicism Theories about theories (absolute) Theories about the world (relative)

53 Hegel s Logic Thesis Antithesis Synthesis

54 Thesis People adopt a certain way of looking at and thinking about the world (the thesis). Because it is only partially correct, over time people encounter contrary evidence, counterexamples, anomalies, and contradictions.

55 Antithesis Inspired by these, they shift to a new and contrary way of looking at and thinking about things (the antithesis). That too is only a partial truth, however, so it also gradually confronts contrary evidence, counterexamples, anomalies, and contradictions.

56 Synthesis The conflict between thesis and antithesis is eventually transcended in a synthesis that draws elements from both while transforming the way people see and think. That becomes a new thesis, and the process begins again.

57 Norms We construct norms They are relative to a historical period and social context They express the World Spirit in its current state of development But they progress toward the Absolute Whatever is, is right!

58 Charles Sanders Peirce ( )

59 Pragmatism Charles Sanders Peirce develops the pragmatic theory of truth. Principle of pragmatism: There is no difference in meaning without a difference in practice.

60 Pragmatism Meaning depends entirely on practice To get clear about the meanings of our terms and thoughts, we need to be clear about their practical antecedents and effects

61 Scientific Inquiry Thought aims at truth. Not all practice does But scientific inquiry aims at truth It aims in particular at stable belief: beliefs that will not have to be given up in the face of further information

62 Defining truth The correspondence theorist defines scientific activity as that activity that aims at the truth Peirce defines the truth is that at which scientific activity aims

63 Peirce on Truth The opinion which is fated to be ultimately agreed to by all who investigate, is what we mean by the truth, and the object represented in this opinion is the real.

64 Limit of scientific inquiry Truth, then, is a kind of coherence (or, as Peirce prefers to call it, concordance) with the ideal limit of scientific inquiry The truth is what we all eventually are bound to agree on

65 Belief Revision Science is a process of belief revision When we encounter new information and update our beliefs, we keep some, reject others, and add new ones Truth is what works in that context of belief revision Truth is that on which our process of belief revision stabilizes

66 Utilitarianism Another option is to construct norms on the basis of experience Maximize good increase pleasure, decrease pain

67 Jeremy Bentham Principle of utility: Maximize good... the greatest happiness of the whole community, ought to be the end or object of pursuit.... The right and proper end of government in every political community, is the greatest happiness of all the individuals of which it is composed, say, in other words, the greatest happiness of the greatest number.

68 Bentham s Principle By the principle of utility is meant that principle which approves or disapproves of every action whatsoever, according to the tendency it appears to have to augment or diminish the happiness of the party whose interest is in question: or, what is the same thing in other words to promote or to oppose that happiness.

69 John Stuart Mill ( ) The creed which accepts as the foundation of morals, Utility, or the Greatest Happiness Principle, holds that actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness.

70 Consequences Consequentialism: an act s value depends on its consequences (effects on the amount of good) Universalism: everyone s good counts equally

71 Motives, intentions, etc. Utilitarians treat what comes before the act as relevant, but only because of consequences: 1. An intention is good if it tends to lead to good actions. 2. A motive is good if it tends to lead to good intentions. 3. A character trait is good if it tends to lead to good motives. 4. A person is good if he/she tends to have good character traits. 5. A society is good if it tends to have good people.

72 Intrinsic good Maximize what? Utilitarians need a theory of basic or intrinsic good Moral good = maximizing basic good Basic good =?

73 Hedonism Intrinsic good: Happiness What is happiness?

74 Happiness Bentham & Mill: pleasure and the absence of pain Hedonism: pleasure and pain are the only sources of value

75 Bentham s Utilitarianism A good act increases the balance of pleasure over pain in the community A bad act decreases it The best acts maximize the balance of pleasure over pain

76 Bentham s Utilitarianism We must consider, not just ourselves, but everyone affected Individualism: effect on community is sum of affects on members

77 Moral Calculus People affected A B... Z Total Pleasure Pain Difference P(A) L(A) B(A) P(B) L(B) B(B) P(Z) L(Z) B(Z) P L B

78 Carlyle s Objection Thomas Carlyle: Pig philosophy! Utilitarianism: good = feeling good

79 Mill s 1830s response The goal is to maximize the good for mankind as a species This has two implications: I can best do that by promoting my own good; we are all best off when each tends his own I have reason to develop my capacities, my talents, and my intellect; they produce benefits for mankind, not just for me

80 Qualities of pleasures Mill: pleasures differ in quality as well as quantity It is better to be a human being dissatisfied than a pig satisfied. We are capable of better pleasures than pigs are

81 Judging Quality Which pleasures are higher? See what the competent judges prefer Who is competent to judge? Those with experience of both Intellectual > social > sensual

82 Bentham v. Mill Bentham agrees that pleasures differ in quality: In regard to well-being, quality as well as quantity requires to be taken into account. He has an entire chapter on kinds of pleasures

83 Bentham v. Mill But Bentham thinks you are the most competent judge of quality for you: Quantity depends upon general sensibility, sensibility to pleasure and pain in general; quality upon particular sensibility: upon a man's being more sensible to pleasure or pain from this or that source, than to ditto from this or that other.

84 Bentham on Liberty I can know quality for me by reflection But I can judge qualities for others only by what they say and do So, each can judge best for him/herself: every man is a better judge of what is conducive to his own wellbeing than any other man can be.

85 Mill on Liberty Harm principle: The only justification for restricting liberty is harm to others Self-regarding actions: sphere of liberty We ought to be free to do what we please so long as we don t violate someone else s rights

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