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The Philosophy of Immanuel Kant Essay (Critical Writing)


Explain the problem that the chapter called Schematism is supposed to solve

In the chapter on schematism, Kant attempts to solve the problem of the ability of persons to ensure categories show significance and sense (Kant Exam 2 Notes Problem I). He explores the possibility and ability of a priori concepts to apply to intuitions and suggests that forms of judgment construct thoughts, the same way forms of intuition construct perceptual experience. Kant puts content into the hypothetical form, thereby becoming a judgment of cause and effect. Hence the form represents causal meaning (Schematism Problem I). Kant also solves the problem of the possibility and ability of a priori concepts to apply to intuitions by suggesting that a person’s thoughts about something which is intuited have a priori concepts because it is implicit in the form content (Kant Exam 2 Notes Problem I). He explores the reason behind the thought that categories depict objective validity.

Because of the perception that humans think in forms which express categories, Kant explores why the resulting thoughts are correct. He explores this problem by suggesting that subjective judgments’ presupposition of objective judgment doesn’t show that category informed thoughts must have objective applications (Wattles sec. III). However, this doesn’t show that the Cartesian is wrong in thinking that epistemological problems arise for objective judgments, which do not arise for subjective judgment. Kant also explores how a priori concepts apply to intuition (Schematism Problems II) This is a transcendental deduction which argues that content implicit in the form of thought that is objectively valid but does not depict how a concept of such content could match an intuition; hence the content of the concept is not given in the intuition (Wattles sec. II). Besides, Kant discovers but does not solve a crucial problem about representation. According to Kant, a concept has to depict homogeneity with the representation of the object for instance the concept of a plate as empirical depicts homogeneity with the geometrical concept of a circle, hence roundness which is thought in the later can be intuited in the former (Schematism Problem III). Therefore Kant perceives a priori concepts as heterogeneous from empirical intuitions. This is possible because a person can intuit roundness but cannot intuit causality.

State the first two forms of the categorical imperative and explain why Kant takes them to be equivalent

The first formulation, otherwise referred to as the formula of universal law may be stated as “act only on that maxim through which you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law” (Wattles sec. II). In the first formulation, Kant explores the possibility of categorical imperatives, which might be due to the reason that the possibility of the moral law is related to the aspect of freedom of people who are influenced by nature. In the first categorical imperative, Kant seems to muse that categorical imperatives are hypothetical in a covert manner. For instance, when a person (categorically or unconditionally) is against committing murder, it implies that entertaining aspects of categorical imperative lack the proof that one exists (Wattles sec. II). However, analysis of the idea of categorical imperatives possibly establishes the general formula of categorical imperatives. This formula is depicted by Kant as lacking content and implying nothing which is concrete.

The first formulation, therefore, depicts that categorical imperatives require action in line with the law. Therefore, a maxim is a policy regarding one’s actions for example maxims of keeping one’s promises or generosity which are depicted through being nice to people who are nice to you (Wattles sec. II). Maxims depict specificity and are also general. In the traditional sense, duties were classified as those towards others and self, inviolable or perfect duties, and benevolence or self cultivating duties which are non-binding in every opportunity. These duties depict similarity in aspects of a single categorical principle of pure reason for all rational persons (Wattles sec. II). The principle depicted above is formal as it holds regardless of the ends or the goals which are envisioned in the agent. In conclusion, satisfactions of inclinations are necessarily important but have to be subordinated to duty in aspects of the conflict. Hence actions depict moral worthiness if done from aspects of duty. Also, whenever persons act, they do so in line with a certain maxim. Rational satisfactoriness is sometimes depicted if such a maxim was made a universal law (Wattles sec. II).

The second formulation, otherwise known as ‘the formula of the end in itself’, may be stated as “so act to treat humanity both in your own person and in the person of every other always at the same time as an end, never simply as a means” (Wattles sec. II). According to Kant, human beings, who are rational, lack free determination of their actions in line with the universal laws, and they also depict a priceless dignity. According to Kant, a person solely respects aspects of humanity in others, which a phenomenon that is appropriate and has to be accorded to everyone alike (Wattles sec. II). Hence in a more strict sense, human beings have no duty to feel respect, which is a feeling that is a subjective response of moral law.

Some people’s actions demand that little action be accorded to them. Therefore, varieties of respect towards persons are manifested in sexual, birth, strength, superiority, and status situations, and these are not involved in the “pure rational principles of respect” (Wattles sec. II). The respect which is accorded to a superior person as a result of one’s feelings is secondary to the primary maxim where persons are treated as beings of human dignity. Besides, Kant in this categorical imperative implies that merely using a person as a means entails involving him or her in a scheme of action, to which he or she could not give consent in the principle of involvement in the scheme (Wattles sec. II). However, in cases where promises are broken, deception, and coercion among other acts, a person’s actions are wrong as he or she uses a person and others as mere means. In line with the above explanations of the first and the second formulation of the categorical imperatives, Kant suggests that they are equivalent. This is because he perceives each of them as having exactly similar duties (Wattles sec. II).

Explain why Kant’s position has trouble accommodating the principle that ought implies can. How might Kant (or a clever Kantian) get around this problem?

The principle that “ought implies can” can be understood in a plausible form as saying moral judgments presuppose or imply either contextually or pragmatically that the agent depicts the ability to act in a proposed manner or a manner which is believed to be but lacks assertion or the statement that it is (Wattles sec. III). Similarly, the points at which moral judgments are uttered disappear if the agents who are involved are unable to act in a manner that is proposed or at least believed to be. Besides, it may be wrong morally to assert that agents have to do a certain action if such an agent depicts the inability or the thought of inability to do such an action. If the dictum according to Kant is interpreted in the ways which are depicted above, it does not depict total disagreement with the externalist view (Wattles sec. III). Therefore, actions can be explored from standpoints of having been caused by material factors which are antecedent and derived from the rational will.

The two standpoints are compatible but each of them is indispensable. In this regard, Kant perceives nature (including people’s actions which are taken as observable phenomena) as a realm that is characterized by the principle of causation. Hence human beings cannot experience their freedom and whatever that is experienced falls within the realm of phenomena that are determined materially (Wattles sec. III). However, whenever thoughts or actions of people occur under the idea of duty, and when they deliberate about their actions, it is presupposed that they are free. The proof that people are free is neither strict nor theoretical, but it compels people’s reason that they may show the possibility of categorical imperatives (Wattles sec. III). Therefore, the possibilities of categorical imperatives occur when people are free, otherwise, people would be mere playthings of inclinations which are both social and natural, hence it makes no sense by saying that people ought to do something (Wattles sec. III). Hence Kant perceives that despite being part of nature, we transcend nature.

Ethics and other related areas have shown the wide use of the principle that ought implies can. For instance, it has been used in arguments that entail free will versus determinism, moral dilemmas which entail internalism versus externalism in aspects of moral motivation, and obligation and blame. In all these cases of using the principle that ought implies can, controversy has been depicted, for the primary reason that the three sides show in the way which the principle has been used in terms of arguing for one position or the other. Some authors have depicted disagreement with arguments which emanate from the principle that “ought implies can” by suggesting that these arguments appeal to the principle that “I morally ought” implies “I can”‘ insisting that “I can”‘ implies ‘I’ want to in the sense that a person has some motivation at least dispositionally for doing something’ hence such a conclusion is almost an internalist conclusion (Wattles sec. III).

The following two quotations seem to conflict. Explain the conflict and why this Might be a problem for Kant

The first quotation depicts that a person should never act in a manner that treats humanity, whether in a person or others as always and only as a means but always as an end in itself. This has been depicted as an introduction to the idea of respect for people for reasons that are necessary to our humanity (Schematism Text 4-5). Such kinds of conflicts and misunderstandings are a result of intuitiveness. In this regard, the formula of humanity does not rule out cases where a person can be used as a means to other people’s ends. The conflict also arises from the fact that the imagination of any life is recognizably human without the use of a person to pursue one’s own goals (Kant Exam 2 Notes 4-7). The things which a person acquires for example food, clothing, shelter, and furniture, are acquired by way of ability and talent which is developed via the exercises of the wills of many people. Also, a conflict is depicted in the way the aspect of humanity is treated, that is as a mere means to a person’s ends (Schematism Text 2-5). For example, the difference which is depicted between a horse and a taxi in the way one is used but not the other and as a means through which we want to meet our ends.

Another conflict in the two quotations arises from the way ‘humanity’ has been perceived. It is not human beings in particular but the ‘Humanity’ in human beings that we must treat as an end in itself (Schematism Text 1-4). Our ‘Humanity’ is that collection of features that make us distinctively human, including the ability to engage in self-directed rational behavior and to adopt and pursue our ends, and any other capacities necessarily connected with these (Schematism Text 7-9). Therefore for a law to be the basis of an obligation, it must have the absolute necessity. Every person must maintain each other’s life and everyone has a direct inclination to act in line with this requirement (Schematism 5-8). However, on the account of anxious care which most people take for its lack of intrinsic worth, their maxim depicts no moral worth (Schematism Text 7-11).

Works Cited

Kant Exam 2 Notes: Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals. PDF file.

Schematism: Three Problems about ‘A Priori’ Concepts. PowerPoint-PDF file.

Schematism Text: Transcendental Doctrine of the Faculty of Judgment or, Analytic of Principles: Chapter One of the Schematism at of the Pure Conceptions of the Understanding. PDF file.

Wattles Jeffery. Emmanuel Kant’s Ethic: The Grounding of the Metaphysics of Morals. 2007. Web.

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