Katerina Deligiorgi (Sussex)
Philosophy, Disciplinary Autonomy, and the Concept of Unity
The question of whether philosophy enjoys disciplinary autonomy arises because of the interest in both philosophers to establish that philosophy can be continuous with the natural sciences, without nonetheless assuming their methods. The first part of the workshop paper examines what is at stake in this question and outlines a range of possible answers.
The second part narrows down to the concept of ‘unity’, mainly in Kant’s theoretical philosophy. The reason for focusing on this concept is that it appears promising as part of a positive answer to the autonomy question, while also explaining how the continuity claim can be made good. The challenge here is to identify a conception of unity that can be recognizable over different domains. The final part deflects, somewhat, this challenge by examining different applications of the concept of unity, their function and justification.
- Kant. Critique of Pure Reason, A782/B810 – A794/B822 (The discipline of pure reason with regard to its proofs); A832/B 860 – A 851/B 879 (The architectonic)
- Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science 4:467-4:479 (Preface)
- Hegel. Philosophy of Nature, ‘Introduction’, A, and B (up to §251)
Giuseppina D’Oro (Keele)
No Entry by Entailment: Conceptual Idealism and the Autonomy of the Human Sciences
Are there colours sounds and smells over and above the scientific properties of objects? Are there intentional states as well as brain states? If it turned out that there cannot be both the properties which belong to the so-called scientific image, and those which belong to the manifest image, then one would have to give way to the other. One recent high profile attempt to save the manifest image from elimination has come from Frank Jackson. Jackson argues that since metaphysics seeks to give an account of reality in terms of a limited list of ingredients, which do not include putative features of experience such as colours and intentional properties, it continually faces the so-called “location problem”, namely the problem of how to accommodate such properties within the sparse set of ingredients which make up the metaphysician’s list of what “really” exists. Having argued that serious metaphysics continually faces the location problem Jackson also suggests that the putative features of reality which do not appear in the serious metaphysician’s list may be saved from elimination if it could be shown that they are entailed (in a very specific sense of “entail”) by the basic ingredients which are included in the metaphysician’s list. Jackson thus comes to the rescue of the manifest image by developing a modest conception of the role of conceptual analysis in metaphysics. In his view, the role of conceptual analysis in metaphysics is not that of determining what is the fundamental nature of reality. This is the role of science, not of conceptual analysis. The role of conceptual analysis consists “in determining what to say in less fundamental terms given an account of the world stated in more fundamental terms”. If, through this kind of conceptual analysis, it can be shown that manifest properties piggy-back on the fundamental properties, then they will have been legitimated and spared from a much crueller fate.
This paper considers a very different way of saving the manifest image from the threat of elimination. On this view, manifest properties do not earn their keep by entailment. There is, I argue, no entry by entailment. This is because manifest properties belong to a conception of reality that is sui generis. Yet it does not follow from the fact that manifest properties cannot be located that they should be excised. The paper thus rejects the claim that manifest properties should either be located or eliminated and that location (of a kind) is the price to be paid to escape elimination.
The alternative to either location or elimination which will be argued here rests on the view that the role of conceptual analysis in metaphysics is to make explicit the distinctive presuppositions which govern the manifest and the scientific image respectively. This view of the role of conceptual analysis in metaphysics is significantly more robust than the modest role that Jackson attributes it. Its robustness, however, has nothing to do with the view that task of metaphysics is to determine what is the fundamental nature of reality and thus that metaphysics shares the same goals of science, even if it tries to deliver them in a different way (a priori or from the proverbial armchair). On this alternative view, the role of conceptual analysis in metaphysics is not “robust” in the sense that contrasts with Jackson’s understanding of what counts as “modest” conceptual analysis, where conceptual analysis is given the humble role of determining what putative features of reality can be allowed entry by entailment.
While this understanding of the role of conceptual analysis is not “immodest” in the sense that contrasts with Jackson’s own understanding of modesty in conceptual analysis, it is nonetheless incompatible with the conception of the philosopher as an underlabourer of science that is tacitly implied by Jackson’s views of the role of conceptual analysis in metaphysics. The view that the task of philosophy is to uncover the presuppositions which govern the manifest and the scientific image entails a conception of philosophy as an epistemologically first science which is humble (to the extent that it takes it to be the role of the special sciences, not of philosophy to tell us what there is), and yet robust (in so far as it attributes to philosophy role of unearthing the presuppositions and methodological assumptions which enable first order scientists to discover first order truths). Jackson’s defence of the manifest image from elimination and the one advocated in this paper thus rest on a metaphilosophical disagreement concerning the role of conceptual analysis in metaphysics. The defence of the manifest image advocated here will be explicated with reference to Collingwood’s and Heidegger’s ways of articulating the distinction between the manifest and the scientific image and by showing that their handling of the action/event distinction (Collingwood) and of the distinction between the present-at-hand and the ready-to-hand (Heidegger), rests on common metaphilosophical assumptions which cut across philosophical traditions and can be captured by a the commitment to a form of idealism that is conceptual, not ontological.
- Collingwood, R.G. 1940. An Essay on Metaphysics. Part I, chapter IV “On Presupposing”
- Heidegger, M. 1927. Being and Time. Sections 14-15
- Jackson, F. From Metaphysics to Ethics, chapter 1.
Gabriele Gava (Goethe University Frankfurt)
Can Kant’s Transcendental Idealism Be Used to Ground the Autonomy of the Human Sciences?
In its most basic formulation, Kant’s transcendental idealism maintains that the objects of our cognition and knowledge are not things-in-themselves, but only appearances. In this paper I will take into account what for Kant was a particular consequence of this doctrine, that is, the idea that transcendental idealism licenses us to hold two seemingly inconsistent views on ourselves at the same time, without contradiction. Kant famously argued that, on the one hand, we can regard ourselves as appearances and as subject to deterministic natural laws, while, on the other, we can also see ourselves as noumena and as free-willing agents. The possibility of holding this double standpoint rests on the fact that fundamental natural laws, like the law of causality, have a restricted domain of application. They apply to objects only as far as they are considered as appearances. This implies that we are not required to see natural laws as applying universally to every possible object, without considering either which objects we are talking about or from which perspective we are examining them. This opens a conceptual space for regarding the freedom we attribute to ourselves as practical agents as compatible with the way we see us as part of nature.
Now, Kant’s strategy to defend the coherence of this double standpoint might be seen as a good candidate to argue for the autonomy of the human sciences. In this respect, his transcendental idealism could provide a way to restrict the validity of the claims of the natural sciences to a particular domain or perspective, while the practical standpoint on ourselves as free agents could offer a foundation shared by many human sciences. The purpose of my paper will be twofold. First, I will investigate if the autonomy of the human sciences is something that Kant himself wanted to achieve by means of his transcendental idealism. Second, I will inquire whether Kant’s transcendental idealism could be a good basis for grounding this autonomy, independently of Kant’s actual views on the matter.
As far as the first purpose of the paper is concerned, there are in fact various hints which suggest that Kant was not interested in using transcendental idealism to defend the legitimacy or the autonomy of the human sciences. Let me here mention three of these hints. Firstly, Kant often defends a quite narrow understanding of science, according to which only some natural sciences properly deserve that name. True, Kant recognized disciplines like anthropology and history as being legitimate fields of research, even thought they could not be scientific in a strong sense of the term. However, he does not seem to think his transcendental idealism was necessary to defend either the legitimacy or the autonomy of these disciplines. Secondly, while Kant used the concepts of knowledge [Wissen] and belief [Glaube] to distinguish respectively between claims based on theoretical evidence and claims supported by practical grounds, he argued explicitly against those who employed the concept of Glaube to distinguish the attitude which is appropriate towards sciences based upon testimonial evidence, like history, from sciences based on apodictic demonstrations or empirical evidence. Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, it is only in limited cases that taking a practical standpoint licenses us to regard ourselves as partly outside nature, where this seems to make the practical standpoint irrelevant for defending the autonomy of the human sciences.
As far as my second purpose is concerned, it might be argued that even if Kant himself was not interested in using transcendental idealism for defending the autonomy of the human sciences, this is something that we can plausibly do independently of his intentions. In this way, transcendental idealism could be used to challenge the claim to universal validity of the natural sciences. This validity would instead be restricted to a particular perspective on objects. The challenge in this respect comes from the fact that Kant’s own version of transcendental idealism seems hardly tenable nowadays. Moreover, it seems difficult to devise an alternative version of this doctrine able to show, on the one hand, that there are some concepts that play a constitutive role for the domain of objects of cognition of the natural sciences, and, on the other, that we are not required to regard these concepts as essential for any possible standpoint we can have on objects.
However, the fact that we face these difficulties does not mean that the insight at the basis of Kant’s transcendental idealism cannot be developed in a convincing way. In particular, even though we might not be able to find some concepts that play a constitutive role for the domain of objects of cognition of the natural sciences considered collectively, it seems much more plausible to maintain that there are some concepts that have this function with respect to the domain of objects of a particular natural science. Now, this might be used to argue that insofar as the validity of the perspective of that particular natural science rests on the constitutive role that some concepts play with respect to its domain of objects of cognition, we are not required to see that perspective as applicable to every possible object, or as the only possible standpoint on objects. Since this would imply that we are not required to see the perspective on objects of that particular science as applying to other natural sciences, it would follow that we are not required to see this perspective as binding for the human sciences either.
I will begin by analysing Kant’s argument for the legitimacy of the double standpoint on ourselves as objects of nature and as free-willing subjects in the Third Antinomy of the Critique of Pure Reason. I will then consider the difficulties for interpreting Kant’s transcendental idealism as a strategy for defending the autonomy of the human sciences which I have mentioned. Finally, I will conclude by showing how I think Kant’s insight can be made to work to achieve this goal.
- Kant. Critique of Pure Reason, ‘The Antinomy of Pure Reason’, Introductory sections: A405-25/B432-53
- Third Antinomy and Remarks on the Thesis and the Anthitesis: A444-51/B472-9
- Transcendental Idealism as the Key to Solving the Cosmological Dialectic: A490-7/B518-25
- Resolution of the Third Antinomy, including the two related sections on the compatibility of causality through freedom with natural causality: A532-59/B560-87
Paul Giladi (Sheffield)
Problems with Positivism: Quantitative Rationality and History as a Parti Objecti
The Placement Problem appears to force enquirers into an antinomial conflict of sorts: one must either adopt the scientific image of man, i.e. conform to the standards and adopt the results of the empirical and natural sciences; or adopt the manifest image of man, i.e. conform to the standards of how we understand ourselves and our world that is not justified by appeal to the scientific method and the results of the empirical and natural sciences.
In this paper, I argue that a significant failing of the framework which gives rise to the Placement Problem is that it risks articulating historical discourse exclusively in terms of the kind of inferential patterns definitive of nomothetic thinking, namely the kind of thinking symptomatic of the Laplacian model of quantitative rationality. This, in turn, leads to conceiving of the objects of historical discourse as the same genera as the objects of natural scientific discourse. However, central to Windelband’s neo-Kantian distinction between the nomothetical nature of the natural sciences and the ideographical nature of the human sciences is a committed opposition to history as a parti objecti. This is because Windelband places significant emphasis on history a parti subjecti, which does not conceive of historical discourse as a detached, voyeuristic rational activity. Why a parti subjecti is favoured here over a parti objecti is that history as a parti objecti fails to be illustrative of our phenomenology, our Erlebnis, and our sense of ourselves as self-interpreting rational agents engaging in multifaceted forms of inquiry. I would venture to say that hardly any student of history would think the positivist approach makes better sense of history than a parti subjecti.
- Windelband, W. ‘History and Natural Science’, in Sebastian Luft (ed) The Neo-Kantian Reader, Routledge (2015).
Jim O’Shea (University College Dublin)
Problems Posed by Sellars’ Kantian Naturalist Conception of Rules
During the 1960s and 70s Wilfrid Sellars developed a distinctively Kantian naturalist outlook in both theoretical and practical philosophy, defending positions that were original and controversial both as interpretations of Kant and as an attempt to preserve the irreducibility of normativity within an exhaustively scientific ontology. His Kantian naturalism is distinctive in relation to current disputes even if one sets entirely aside, as I do here, both (i) Sellars’ own attempt to replace Kant’s ‘noumena’ with postulated scientific unobservables, and (ii) Sellars’ own controversial views about ‘sensa’. I will focus rather on Sellars’ Kantian views about concepts, rules, and norms in general. Sellars argued that Kant was essentially right about the irreducibly and constitutively norm-governed nature of our conceptual cognition and agency, in ways that, for Sellars, cast doubt on all of the standard ways of attempting defend a scientifically naturalist ontology from top to bottom. Sellars’ position is particularly interesting in view of the strength of his commitments to both of those ostensibly conflicting positions, involving internal tensions that have have generated the subsequent legacy of division among so-called ‘left-wing’ normativist and ‘right-wing’ scientific naturalist Sellarsians. I isolate the key tensions as lying in Sellars’ Kantian naturalist conception of our rule-constituted conceptual thinking and agency. How did Sellars think it was possible to regard our conceptual thinking and moral agency conceived in the spirit of Kant to be, at the same time, phenomena that are entirely consistent with — in fact, explainable in terms of — a scientific ontology conceived by Sellars, ultimately, in exhaustively extensionalist terms? The talk will attempt to clarify and isolate the key problems posed by Sellars’ unique way of attempting to combine central insights from German idealism with an unusually strong version of scientific naturalism.
- Wilfrid Sellars, “…this I or he or it (the thing) which thinks,” Eastern APA presidential address (1970), reprinted in Sellars, Kant’s Transcendental Metaphysics (KTM), ed. Jeffrey F. Sicha (Ridgeview Publishing Co., 2002). http://www.ridgeviewpublishing.com/sellars.html.
- O’Shea, J. (2009) ‘On the Structure of Sellars’s Naturalism with a Normative Turn’, in Willem A. deVries (ed.) Empiricism, Perceptual Knowledge, Normativity and Realism, Oxford University Press, pp. 187–210.
Alexis Papazoglou (Royal Holloway)
Between Idealism and Pragmatism: Husserl’s Critique of Windelband and Rickert
Windelband and Rickert both see themselves as following in Kant’s footsteps. They see the role of philosophy as investigating the presuppositions and first principles that cognition is based on. Instead of assuming, however, that all types of knowledge essentially share the same fundamental presuppositions, like Kant seems to have thought, these neo-Kantians aimed to show that different sets of first principles correspond to different forms of cognition. They saw this as a way of defending the autonomy of forms of knowledge, such as history, from the dominating force of the science of physics. History and physics, they claimed, made different fundamental assumptions about their subject matter, and applied different methods. According to Rickert, for example, physics aimed at explanations that looked for general, law-like patterns which allowed for predictions, whereas history aimed at delineating the particular aspects of an event, allowing for finer detail and nuance, at the expense of law-like generalisations. However, Husserl points out that this approach seems to ignore a fundamental aspect of Kant’s critical philosophy. Kant was not only interested in making explicit the fundamental conceptual structures underlying our knowledge claims. He also wanted to offer a justification for their application to the world of experience. That is the aim of his transcendental deduction. Husserl seems to be right when pointing out that such a deduction is absent from Windelband’s or Rickert’s neo-Kantian philosophy. In the absence, then, of any such deduction, revealing the presuppositions behind our modes of inquiry is tantamount to revealing what simply happen to be the methodological and conceptual principles of the sciences we happen to be practicing. This would be equivalent to a kind of subjective idealism, a position committed to the idea that our conceptual structures, those underpinning different sciences, merely reflect our cognitive biases, which we impose on a world that is not itself structured conceptually in any way. For Husserl, showing that different forms of knowledge, different conceptual tools, accurately grasp reality, requires showing that reality itself is such that it is conceptually structured in the relevant way. This was indeed how Hegel envisaged his absolute idealism, which was meant as a correction of what he saw as Kant’s subjective idealism, since for Hegel Kant’s transcendental deduction fell short of the task it set out to achieve. So in the absence of a Kantian-style deduction, or a Hegelian-like commitment to the conceptual structure of reality, Windelband and Rickert look as though they are embracing a kind of subjective idealism that Kant was trying to avoid. However, there is another way of seeing their philosophical direction: as a pragmatist one. Both philosophers make claims that suggest the differences between the presuppositions and methodologies of physics and history come down to the different pragmatic aims of those forms of enquiry or to different stances that we adopt towards one and the same reality. In fact, we can see their attempts to delineate physics and history along the lines that a pragmatist like Rorty distinguishes between different forms of discourse, different vocabularies that belong to different practices, with different aims.
- Husserl E. “A Critique of Windelband and Rickert on the Classification of the Sciences” from his Nature and Spirit (1929) in Sebastian Luft (ed) The Neo-Kantian Reader, Routledge (2015)
- Rickert H. “Concept formation in History”, from his The Limits of Concept Formation in Natural Science: A Logical Introduction to the Historical Sciences (1902), in Sebastian Luft (ed) The Neo-Kantian Reader, Routledge (2015)
- Staiti A. Husserl’s Transcendental Phenomenology: Nature, Spirit and Life, Cambridge University Press (2014) ch. 5
- Windelband W. “History and Natural Science” https://www2.southeastern.edu/Academics/Faculty/jbell/windelband.pdf
Andrea Staiti (Boston College/Köln)
Husserl’s Anti-Naturalistic (and Anti-Metaphysical) Account of Action
My goal in this paper is to present and assess briefly Husserl’s anti-naturalistic and anti-metaphysical account of action in the Studien zur Struktur des Bewusstseins. In the first part, I present Husserl’s ‘anatomy’ of an action, which can be simple or composite and, accordingly, break down into a primary and a secondary component. In the second part, I turn to consider the living body as the source of actions, and I offer a description of the subtle interplay of passivity and activity for the constitution of deliberate, goal-oriented actions. I conclude with some remarks about the philosophical lesson that we can learn about the problem of free will from these analyses.
- Edith Stein’s Philosophy of Psychology and the Humanities.