“The Human Condition,” by Thomas Whitaker/Prison Arts Coalition
THE RATIONAL HUMAN CONDITION is a five-part, four-book series, including:
PART 1: Preface and General Introduction
PART 2: Cognition, Content, and the A Priori: A Study in the Philosophy of Mind and Knowledge
PART 3: Deep Freedom and Real Persons: A Study in Metaphysics
PART 4: Kantian Ethics and Human Existence: A Study in Moral Philosophy
PART 5: Kant, Agnosticism, and Anarchism: A Theological-Political Treatise
Its author is ROBERT HANNA:
THE RATIONAL HUMAN CONDITION, PART 1
PREFACE AND GENERAL INTRODUCTION
TABLE OF CONTENTS
THE RATIONAL HUMAN CONDITION, PART 2
COGNITION, CONTENT, AND THE A PRIORI: A STUDY IN THE PHILOSOPHY OF MIND AND KNOWLEDGE
THE RATIONAL HUMAN CONDITION, PART 3
DEEP FREEDOM AND REAL PERSONS: A STUDY IN METAPHYSICS
TABLE OF CONTENTS
A Note on References
1. Introduction: Freedom, Life, and Persons’ Lives
2. Beyond Mechanism: The Dynamics of Life
3. From Biology to Agency
3.3 Practical-Freedom-in-Life: Kantian Non-Intellectualism
3.4 The Rationality of the Heart: Principled Authenticity
4. Neither/Nor: The Negative Case for Natural Libertarianism
4.1 The Intuitive Definition of Free Will
4.2 The Four Metaphysical Horsemen of the Apocalypse
4.3 The Three Standard Options, Natural Mechanism, and The Fourfold Knot of Free Agency
4.4 Three Arguments for Classical Incompatibilism, and In-the-Zone Compatibilism
4.5 Three Arguments for Local Incompatibilism with Respect to Natural Mechanism
4.6 Sympathy for the Devil: Compatibilism Reconsidered
4.7 Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death?
4.8 Too Hard to Live With: Strawson’s Basic Argument, Hard Determinism, and Hard Incompatibilism
5. Either/Or: Deep Freedom and Principled Authenticity
5.1 The Internal Structure of Deep Freedom
5.2 From Frankfurt Back to Kierkegaard: How to Have a Live Option, or Kierkegaardian Either/Or, Without Alternative Possibilities
5.3 Psychological Freedom, Deep Freedom, and Principled Authenticity
6. Minded Animalism I: What Real Persons Really Are
6.1 From Deep Freedom to Real Persons
6.2 Real Persons
6.3 Necessary and Sufficient Conditions for Real Personhood
7. Minded Animalism II: From Parfit to Real Personal Identity
7.1 Parfit’s Theory: Six Basic Claims
7.2 Against and Beyond Parfit 1: Two Reasons, and The Minded Animalist Criterion of Personal Identity
7.3 Against and Beyond Parfit 2: Four More Reasons
In the fullness of time, the complete, downloadable text of each part of THE RATIONAL HUMAN CONDITION will also be made available on APP.
A NOTE ON REFERENCES
For convenience, throughout the five-part four book series, The Rational Human Condition—comprising 1. the Preface and General Introduction, 2. Cognition, Content, and the A Priori, 3. Deep Freedom and Real Persons, 4. Kantian Ethics and Human Existence, and 5. Kant, Agnosticism, and Anarchism—I refer to Kant’s works infratextually in parentheses. The citations include both an abbreviation of the English title and the corresponding volume and page numbers in the standard “Akademie” edition of Kant’s works: Kants gesammelte Schriften, edited by the Königlich Preussischen (now Deutschen) Akademie der Wissenschaften (Berlin: G. Reimer [now de Gruyter], 1902-). I generally follow the standard English translations, but have occasionally modified them where appropriate. For references to the first Critique, I follow the common practice of giving page numbers from the A (1781) and B (1787) German editions only. Here is a list of the relevant abbreviations and English translations:
BL “The Blomberg Logic.” In Immanuel Kant: Lectures on Logic. Trans. J.M. Young. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1992. Pp. 5-246.
C Immanuel Kant: Correspondence, 1759-99. Trans. A. Zweig. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1999.
CPJ Critique of the Power of Judgment. Trans. P. Guyer and E. Matthews. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2000.
CPR Critique of Pure Reason. Trans. P. Guyer and A. Wood. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1997.
CPrR Critique of Practical Reason. Trans. M. Gregor. In Immanuel Kant: Practical Philosophy. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1996. Pp. 139-271.
DiS “Concerning the Ultimate Ground of the Differentiation of Directions in Space.” Trans. D. Walford and R. Meerbote. In Immanuel Kant: Theoretical Philosophy: 1755-1770. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1992. Pp. 365-372.
DSS “Dreams of a Spirit-Seer Elucidated by Dreams of Metaphysics.” Trans. D. Walford and R. Meerbote. In Immanuel Kant: Theoretical Philosophy: 1755-1770. Pp. 301-359.
EAT “The End of All Things.” Trans. A. Wood and G. Di Giovanni. In Immanuel Kant: Religion and Rational Theology. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1996. Pp. 221-231.
GMM Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals. Trans. M. Gregor. In Immanuel Kant: Practical Philosophy. Pp. 43-108.
ID “On the Form and Principles of the Sensible and Intelligible World (Inaugural Dissertation).” Trans. D. Walford and R. Meerbote. In Immanuel Kant: Theoretical Philosophy: 1755-1770. Pp. 373-416.
IUH “Idea for a Universal History with a Cosmopolitan Aim.” Trans. A. Wood. In Immanuel Kant: Anthropology, History, and Eduction. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2007. Pp. 107-120.
JL “The Jäsche Logic.” Trans. J.M. Young. In Immanuel Kant: Lectures on Logic. Pp. 519-640.
LE Immanuel Kant: Lectures on Ethics. Trans. P. Heath. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1997.
MFNS Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science. Trans. M. Friedman. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2004.
MM Metaphysics of Morals. Trans. M. Gregor. In Immanuel Kant: Practical Philosophy. Pp. 365-603.
OP Immanuel Kant: Opus postumum. Trans. E. Förster and M. Rosen. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1993.
OT “What Does It Mean to Orient Oneself in Thinking?” Trans. A. Wood. In Immanuel Kant: Religion and Rational Theology. Pp. 7-18.
Prol Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics. Trans. G. Hatfield. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2004.
PP “Toward Perpetual Peace.” Trans. M. Gregor. In Immanuel Kant: Practical Philosophy. Pp. 317-351.
Rel Religion within the Boundaries of Mere Reason. Trans. A. Wood and G. Di Giovanni. In Immanuel Kant: Religion and Rational Theology. Pp. 57-215.
RTL “On a Supposed Right to Lie from Philanthropy.” Trans. M. Gregor. In Immanuel Kant: Practical Philosophy. Pp. 611-615.
VL “The Vienna Logic,” Trans. J.M. Young. In Immanuel Kant: Lectures on Logic. Pp. 251-377.
WE “An Answer to the Question: ‘What is Enlightenment?’” Trans. M. Gregor. In Immanuel Kant: Practical Philosophy. Pp. 17-22.
THE RATIONAL HUMAN CONDITION, PART 3
DEEP FREEDOM AND REAL PERSONS: A STUDY IN METAPHYSICS
Chapter 3 From Biology to Agency
Section 3.3 Practical-Freedom-in-Life: Kantian Non-Intellectualism
Kant is sometimes thought of as a cold, dry, rationalist. But he is really an emotional extremist.
Let us now suppose, for the purposes of argument, that Kant’s Biological Theory of Freedom and his Incompatibilistic Compatibilism, as I have presented them, are honest-to-goodness true, not only as charitable interpretations of Kant’s theory of free will but also, far more importantly, objectively speaking, quite apart from textual interpretation. That fixes my “third way” approach to Kant’s, and also to a contemporary Kantian, metaphysics of free will. What I want to do in this section and the next, building directly on the neo-Aristotelian and contemporary Kantian anti-mechanist, non-reductive, dynamicist philosophy of biology I put in place in the last chapter, together with Kant’s Biological Theory of Freedom and his Incompatibilistic Compatibilism as I have spelled them out in the just-previous section, is to work out a corresponding contemporary Kantian theory of free agency, as practical-freedom-in-life.
It is also directly relevant to note in this connection that I have already presented a full-scale action-theory elsewhere,[ii] including concrete examples, critical analyses of the relevant secondary literature, etc., as well as corresponding theories of mental causation and also of the key role of the emotions in intentional action, that is presupposed by the current discussion. The current discussion is intended primarily to bring out the specifically contemporary Kantian dimensions of that full-scale action-theory.
According to the classical and standard reading of Kant’s practical philosophy and his theory of practical agency—defended, e.g., by Sidgwick and Korsgaard[iii]—Kant is an intellectualist who believes that the rational human innate capacity for conceptualization and self-conscious thinking, the understanding, necessarily determines all the intentional contents of the will and practical reasoning, whether this is instrumental practical reasoning via the hypothetical imperative, i.e., the impure rational will or Wille, or non-instrumental practical reasoning via the Categorical Imperative, i.e., the pure rational will or Wille.
One fundamental thing to recognize here is that all Kantian intellectualists about practical intentional content are also, perforce, defenders of Kantian Conceptualism about cognitive intentional content, which says that the rational human innate capacity for conceptualization and self-conscious propositional thinking, the understanding (Verstand), necessarily determines all the intentional contents of cognition.[iv] More precisely, all Kantian intellectualists are also Kantian conceptualists, because representational contents of the sorts captured by judgments in the Kantian sense[v]—whether directly referential contents, conceptual contents, propositional contents, or formal-logical contents—are all essentially the same sorts of contents, whether in the context of theoretical judgments and theoretical inferences or in the context of practical judgments and practical inferences. Hence if, as I believe and have also argued here and elsewhere (see section 2.4 above), Kantian Non-Conceptualism is true, then Kantian intellectualism is false from the get-go.
By sharp contrast, then, what I want to argue in this section is that Kant is a non-intellectualist who believes that not all the intentional contents of practical reasoning and the rational will, whether instrumental or non-instrumental, are necessarily determined by the understanding, and that at least some of the intentional contents of practical reasoning, both instrumental and non-instrumental alike, are necessarily determined by the rational human innate capacity for sensibility in a practical sense, in an essentially non-conceptual, non-self-conscious, non-propositional, and non-inferential way. This capacity for practical sensibility includes the affective sub-capacities for conation, desire, emotion, and feeling, as well as the power of choice, the sensible will, or Willkür—in effect, it is nothing more and nothing less than the human heart. So Kant’s non-intellectualism says that free choice and autonomous willing can come straight from the human heart. Or as Kant himself puts it:
The capacity or incapacity of the power of choice/sensible will (Willkür) that arises from this natural propensity to adopt or not to adopt the moral law in its maxims can be called the good or evil heart. (Rel 6: 29, underlining added)
It is also particularly to be noted that Kant’s non-intellectualism includes, but is not restricted to, what is nowadays called the affectivist interpretation of Kant’s theory of moral motivation.[vi] This is because Kant’s non-intellectualism, as I am formulating and defending it, is not merely the thesis that our rational human affective capacities can directly motivate free choice and autonomous moral agency (=affectivism), but instead the two-part thesis which says:
(i) that our rational human affective capacities can directly motivate free choice and autonomous willing (= affectivism), and
(ii) that our human affective capacities can directly motivate free choice and autonomous willing only insofar as they necessarily determine the intentional contents of practical reasoning and the rational will in an essentially non-conceptual, non-self-conscious, non-propositional, and non-inferential way (= Kantian Non-Conceptualism as applied to Kant’s theory of practical agency).
In this way, Kant’s non-intellectualism as I am formulating it is the conjunction of affectivism and Kantian Non-Conceptualism, as applied to Kant’s theory of practical agency. Or in other words, for Kant free choice and autonomous willing can come not only from the human heart, and not from the head, understanding, or intellect, but also, insofar as they do come from the human heart, only straight from the heart, and not indirectly mediated by concepts, self-conscious deliberation, propositional reasons, or inferences.
Fully explicitly and specifically then, according to what I am calling Kantian non-intellectualism, Kant is committed to the view that all rational human practical and moral action not only begins in our specifically human sensibility (since that can be accommodated by the weaker versions of Kantian Conceptualism and Kantian intellectualism alike, according to which sensibility is a causally necessary but non-constitutive condition of cognitive intentionality or practical intentionality[vii]), but also:
(i) it is primitively grounded on the first-order essentially non-conceptual, non-self-conscious, non-propositional, and non-inferential affective intentional inputs deriving from empirical conation, desire, emotions, feeling, and choice/sensible willing, and
(ii) it is necessarily limited by the higher-order essentially non-conceptual, non-self-conscious, non-propositional, and non-inferential affective intentional inputs deriving from the non-empirical so-called “Fact of Reason” or Faktum der Vernuft (CPrR 5: 31; see also 5: 6, 42-43, 47-48, 55-57, 91-94, and 104-108), which is essentially the conscious manifestation of a capacity for loving the moral law that is innately inscribed in the human heart (Rel 6: 84, 145).
According to Kantian non-intellectualism, The Fact of Reason is merely “so-called,” because it would be far more appropriately called The Affect of Reason, insofar as it is most accurately construed as a conscious manifestation of higher-order, essentially non-conceptual, non-self-conscious, non-propositional, non-inferential conation, desire, emotion, and feeling (aka the affects). More precisely, The Fact/Affect of Reason is fundamentally expressed as the higher-order, essentially non-conceptual, non-self-conscious, non-propositional, non-inferential, and also specifically moral, affects of
(i) “respect” or Achtung, and
(ii) “self-fulfillment” or Selbstzufriedenheit,
both of which in turn are specifically moral conscious manifestations of what I will call the desire for self-transcendence. According to my account, the desire for self-transcendence is the fundamental higher-order desire to be moved to choice and action by non-egoistic, non-hedonistic, non-consequentialist first-order desires.
I will discuss self-fulfillment or Selbstzufriedenheit later, in section 3.4. But for now it is most important to note that the desire for self-transcendence, consciously manifested as the higher-order, essentially non-conceptual, non-self-conscious, and non-propositional affect of respect, that is, a love of the moral law that is innately inscribed in the human heart, “is properly the representation of a worth that infringes upon my self-love (Eigenliebe)” (GMM 4: 402n.). Correspondingly, the directly-referential object or target of that representation is the moral law, i.e., the Categorical Imperative, innately specified in the hearts of human persons, who inherently possess the absolute intrinsic non-denumerable objective moral value of dignity, and are inherently capable of transcendental and practical freedom. Therefore that target
is at the same time an object of respect inasmuch as … it weakens self-inflation (Eigendünkel); and inasmuch as it even strikes down self-inflation, that is, humiliates it, it is an object of the greatest respect and so too the ground of a positive feeling that is not of empirical origin and is cognized a priori. (CPrR 5: 73)
Morally true love overcomes self-love. In this way, via the higher-order essentially non-conceptual, non-self-conscious, non-propositional, and non-inferential feeling of respect, the desire for self-transcendence directly opposes both “self-love” or Eigenliebe (roughly, narcissism) and also “self-inflation” or Eigendünkel (roughly, selfishness), which is to say that it directly opposes human egoism in all its forms.[viii]
An essential feature of the higher-order desire for self-transcendence, as we will see, is that it can robustly manifest itself not only in morally right choice and action (as the higher-order, essentially non-conceptual, non-self-conscious, non-propositional, and non-inferential affects of respect and self-fulfillment), but also in morally wrong choice and action, even to the point of umitigated evil and wickedness. At this point, paradoxically, the desire for self-transcendence, as the higher-order desire that inherently opposes first-order willing that is egoistic, hedonistic, or consequentialist, can turn into its dialectical opposites, self-love or narcissism and self-inflation or selfishness, by becoming the monstrous narcissism and selfishness of Hume’s fictional person who would allow the whole world and everyone in it, including himself, to be destroyed just so that he could avoid having his finger scratched,[ix] and also of Milton’s fictional fallen angel, Satan, who chillingly says:
So farewell, hope; and with hope farewell, fear; Farewell, remorse! all good to me is lost; Evil, be thou my good.[x]
Now I do not mean to say that for Kant any actual or possible rational human animal could ever be wholly Satanic—indeed, Kant explicitly rejects this (Rel 6: 35)—but rather only that some rational human choices and acts really are near-Satanic, and also that some people have characters that really are near-Satanic. Outside of Miltonic poetic fiction and in the real world, the “human, all too human” capacity for freely choosing the bad and the wrong, whether as-bad-and-wrong, or seemingly as-good-and-right, is what Augustine calls “the perversity of the will,”[xi] and what Kant, clearly following Augustine, calls “the perversity of the human heart” (Rel 6: 30, 37). In view of Kant’s full recognition of the perversity of the will/the human heart, then, (i) the fact that near-satanic, monstrous narcissism and selfishness are humanly actual and really possible (e.g., Hitler and Stalin), together with (ii) the all-too-familiar fact of everyday self-love/narcissism and self-inflation/selfishness, collectively yield the dual fact of what Kant calls radical evil (Rel 6: 18-33). Radical evil, the perversity of the human will or heart, is the fully natural and “human, all too human” disposition, tendency, or Gesinnung, towards freely-chosen moral disvalue or wrongness, whose fundamental cause is human egoism in all its forms.
In this connection, it is crucially important to note that in the contemporary Kantian scheme of moral rational normativity that I am developing and defending here, there are two fundamentally different kinds of moral disvalue or wrongness (which is the same as Kant’s “radical evil”—hence my use of the term “evil,” aka Böse, is narrower than Kant’s):
(1) moral evil, which is choice or action involving the intentional violation of people’s dignity, that is, considering or treating them like things, like mere instruments, or, even worse, like garbage or offal, and
(2) non-evil moral badness, aka das Übel, aka schlecht, which is the non-evil privation, or falling-short-of, ideal or high-bar good, e.g., in choices or acts involving benevolence or kindness to others, or sensitivity to their needs, and the related thought that “we can never do enough to help others”
According to this normative scheme, moral evil and moral badness are inherently lexically ordered in relation to moral disvalue or wrongness. Clearly, moral disvalue or wrongness, just like moral value or rightness, always comes in degrees: morally wrong choices and acts are always more or less so, just as morally right choices and acts are. Other things being equal, it is much worse literally to stab someone with the intention of murdering her, than it is merely to say “cutting” things to her with the intention of hurting her feelings. But according to this lexical ordering between moral evil and non-evil moral badness, even the least case of real moral evil is fundamentally worse than even the greatest case of real non-evil moral badness. The person who rejoices in the suffering of another, or who acts specifically in order to make somone else suffer, is fundamentally worse than even the biggest con artist, embezzler, or thief that you can think of, although obviously the utilitarian bad consequences of the latter’s choices and acts can massively outweigh those of the former.
Again, it is one morally disvalued thing to fall short of the best you can be, e.g., as regards benevolence and kindness to others, and sensitivity to their needs (moral badness), but radically another to violate people’s dignity (moral evil). Non-evil morally bad choices and acts are all about human imperfection and weakness, that is, being “human, all too human,” whereas evil choices or acts strike at the heart of human real personhood itself. It is also very important to note that, corresponding to the overarching normative distinction between moral evil and non-evil moral badness, under the same rubric of moral evil, there are in fact two sharply different further sub-kinds of moral evil:
(1i) near-Satanic evil, that is, evil chosen or done for its own sake, whatever the consequences, as the result of titanic egoism—e.g., Hitler, and
(1ii) banal evil, that is, evil chosen or done for merely self-interested reasons (aka “banal egoism”), for hedonistic reasons, or for consequentialist reasons—e.g., the choices and acts of Adolf Eichmann, aka “the man in the glass booth,” as per Hannah Arendt’s famous moral analysis of the Eichmann trial in 1961.[xii]
Arendt’s basic (and, I think, ultimately Kantian) point, with which I completely agree, is that on the assumption that we hold the stunning general fact of the moral horror of Nazism temporarily fixed for the purposes of some further moral reflection, there is still an intrinsic moral difference between Hitler’s kind of evil and (Arendt’s) Eichmann’s kind of evil.
I will come back to all these vitally important distinctions again later in this chapter. But for the moment I want to emphasize that the contemporary Kantian approach to moral rational normativity that I am developing and defending here will doubtless come as a big surprise to many philosophers and non-philosophers alike, who regard Kant as the Puritanical enemy of all human affect, conations, desires, emotions, and feelings. As Ido Geiger aptly notes in a slightly different but still closely-related connection,
[t]his must come as a great surprise to those readers who take the caricature of Kant as the mortal enemy of all human feelings to be a realistic portrait of his views.[xiii]
In other words, contrary to a classical and standard interpretation of Kant’s ethics and theory of practical agency that locates the ground of all wrong choice and action in affect, conation, desire, emotion, and feeling—i.e., in practical sensibility—in fact, according to Kant in Religion within the Boundaries of Mere Reason, and according to me too, it is human egoism that is “the root of all evil,” in the broad sense that it is the motivational ground of what I am calling “moral evil” (whether near-Satanic or banal) and of “non-evil moral badness” alike, by virtue of its being the ultimate source of what Kant calls our “self-incurred perversity” of the will. Indeed, for Kant in Religion,
[c]onsidered in themselves natural inclinations are good, i.e., not reprehensible, and to want to extirpate them would not only be futile but harmful and blameworthy as well (Rel 6: 58, underlining added), and
there is absolutely no salvation for human beings except in the innermost adoption of genuine moral principles in their disposition, [and] … to inferere with this adoption is surely the not so often blamed sensibility but a self-incurred perversity or, as we might otherwise also call this wickedness, fraud (faussité, the satanic guile through which evil comes into the world): [this is] a corruption that lies in all human beings and cannot be overcome except through the idea of the moral good in its absolute purity. (Rel 6: 83)
Part of this bears repeating because it might otherwise seem so shockingly unKantian as to cloud philosophical recognition of its actually being what Kant is asserting:
[c]onsidered in themselves natural inclinations are good, i.e., not reprehensible, and to want to extirpate them would not only be futile but harmful and blameworthy as well (Rel 6: 58, underlining added) .
Considered in themselves, natural inclinations are good! Therefore in his all-things-considered ethical theory circa 1792 (the year of the publication of the first edition of Religion), Kant is not a philosophical enemy of practical sensibility; on the contrary, he is explicitly a philosophical enemy of those who are philosophical enemies of practical sensibility. According to Kant’s considered view, then, he is no more an enemy of practical sensibility than he is an enemy of cognitive sensibility. On the contrary: Kant’s considered view in theoretical and practical philosophy is consistently and globally sensibility first. This in turn means that not only the standard intellectualist reading of Kant’s theory of practical agency, but also the standard non-intellectualist critique of Kant’s theory of practical agency, are equally misguided.[xiv] Indeed, Kantian ethics, properly understood, and “the ethics of care,” properly understood, are one.
Correspondingly, and perhaps most surprisingly of all, pure practical sensibility, that is, moral sensibility—epitomized as The Fact/Affect of Reason, i.e., the feeling of respect, i.e., the true love for the moral law that is inscribed in the human heart, and self-fulfillment—is the Kantian motivational ground of radical goodness. And that, in turn, brings out the core of truth in Derek Parfit’s seemingly very surprising observation that Kant is an “emotional extremist.” Parfit intends this to be a serious criticism of Kant’s theory of practical agency; contrariwise, I am taking it to be the essence and greatest strength of Kant’s theory.
As we saw above, practical freedom is defined by Kant in a negative way as the independence of first-order volition, or the “power of choice” (Willkür), from necessitation by sensible impulses:
Freedom in the practical sense is the independence of the power of choice (Willkür) from necessitation by impulses of sensibility. For a power of choice is sensible insofar as it is pathologically affected (through moving-causes of sensibility); it is called an animal power of choice (arbitrium brutum) if it can be pathologically necessitated. The human power of choice is indeed an arbitrium sensitivum, yet not brutum, but liberum, because sensibility does not render its action necessary, but in the human being there is a faculty of determining oneself from oneself, independently of necessitation by sensible impulses. (CPR A534/B562)
But practical freedom, on its positive side, is also necessarily equivalent to the realization of Kantian autonomy:
The moral law expresses nothing other than the autonomy of pure practical reason, that is, [practical] freedom (CPrR 5: 33)
More precisely, however, practical freedom, or realized autonomy, is how a transcendentally free person actually chooses or does things by means of her subjective experience or consciousness of recognizing the Categorical Imperative or moral law as a desire-overriding, strictly universal, a priori, categorically normative, non-instrumental practical reason that has both motivating and justifying force. The actual fact of this subjective experience or consciousness of realized autonomous agency is, as I have mentioned, what Kant calls the “Fact of Reason” (Faktum der Vernunft) (CPrR 5: 31; see also 5: 6, 42-43, 47-48, 55-57, 91-94, and 104-108). Using The Fact of Reason as the key notion, I will presently argue that a Kantian theory of practical freedom, or realized autonomy, entails a special form of internalism about practical reasons that shares some non-trivial features with Hume’s theory of practical reasoning. But as a preliminary to that, I will say something in general about reasons.
It is plausible to hold that reasons are (or are provided for agents by) facts that normatively support—that is, motivate and/or justify (or: legitimate, warrant, etc.)—intentional aims and actions or cognitive beliefs, and do not merely cause or mechanically trigger those aims, actions, or beliefs. Reasons that normatively support intentional aims and actions are practical reasons, and reasons that normatively support cognitive beliefs are epistemic reasons.
Focusing now on practical reasons, in the recent and contemporary philosophical literature following on from Bernard Williams, there is a crucial and very familiar—indeed, all-too-familiar—distinction between internal reasons and external reasons.[xv] As I am understanding this distinction, internal reasons do belong to an agent’s set of motivations, and external reasons do not belong to an agent’s motivational set.
More precisely, however, internalists about practical reasons hold that reasons both motivate and also justify our choices or actions, where “justification” can be taken in
either (i) the strong sense of the agent’s having a sufficient rational ground that provides an obligation for her to choose or act, e.g., an agent is in her office at 3:00 pm because she has promised to meet someone there then, and is strongly justified in so doing—she ought to be there then, other things being equal,
or (ii) the moderate sense of the agent’s having a legitimating rational ground that provides a permission for her to choose or act even if there is no obligation, e.g., an agent has the day off and is working in her office anyhow, but then at 2:30 pm she suddenly decides to go to the movies for the rest of the afternoon and chill out, and is moderately justified in so doing—it is OK and a good thing for her to chill out for the rest of the afternoon, other things being equal,
or (iii) the weak sense of the agent’s having a rational opportunity for her to choose or act even if there is neither an obligation nor a permission, e.g., an agent has promised to meet someone at her office at 3:00 pm, but then at 2:30 pm she suddenly decides to go to the movies for the rest of the afternoon and chill out, thereby blowing off her appointment, and is only weakly justified in so doing—it can be perfectly well understood why she goes to the movies, but not condoned, other things being equal.
According to reasons-internalism, all practical reasons are internal reasons. Internalists—e.g., Hume—normally also hold a desire-based theory about the nature of justifying reasons.
By contrast, externalists about practical reasons hold that while all practical reasons justify our actions in any of the three senses of justification, nevertheless at least some and perhaps all practical reasons fail to motivate our actions. So some or all practical reasons are external reasons. Externalists—e.g., contemporary Kantians like Korsgaard or later Parfit—normally also hold an objective-value-based theory of the nature of justifying reasons.
These two opposed positions of internalism and externalism about practical reasons may seem to exhaust the logical space of possible philosophical theses. But that is not correct. This is because Kant, on my reading, and I too, hold the intermediate view that while all practical reasons are both motivating and justifying, nevertheless some practical reasons are justifying but not motivating. That, in turn, seems plainly paradoxical. So how can a contemporary Kantian “externalistic internalism” about practical reasons intelligibly and non-paradoxically be the case?
The simple version of the answer to this question is that on the contemporary Kantian view of practical agency I am developing and defending:
(i) all practical reasons whatsoever do indeed justify and have at least the potential or power to motivate the intentional agent, but
(ii) in some act-contexts, some instrumental practical reasons that normally and other things being equal would have motivated the intentional agent, do not actually motivate the intentional agent in those contexts.
The slightly more complicated version of the same answer says that in all and only those act-contexts in which an instrumental practical reason that normally and other things being equal would have motivated an intentional action, actually does fail to motivate an intentional action, then this state of affairs rationally occurs (as opposed to its merely causally occurring, e.g., if a bomb had gone off and killed the intentional agent right then and there, thereby removing the real possibility of the agent’s being motivated by anything) precisely because the intentional agent in those contexts has a desire-overriding, strictly universal, a priori, categorically normative, non-instrumental practical reason that
both (i) wholeheartedly motivates her to action in those contexts contrary to her egoistic or self-interested, hedonistic, or consequentialist inclinations,
and also (ii) fully justifies her action in those contexts.
By “egoistic inclinations,” I mean self-interested inclinations that are either narcissistic inclinations (driven by “self-love” or Eigenliebe) or selfish inclinations (driven by “self-inflation” or Eigendünkel). More generally, I distinguish between
(i) egoistic narcissistic (i.e., self-loving) desires,
(ii) egoistic selfish (i.e., self-inflating) desires, and
(iii) egoistic prudential (i.e., rationally self-interested) desires.
Someone’s deep interest in promoting the welfare of the other members of his own family can be rationally self-interested, hence prudent, but neither narcissistic nor selfish. By contrast, someone’s gambling obsession, even if it alienates all his friends, destroys his marriage, and gets him fired from his job, can be selfish but neither narcissistic nor prudent. And again by contrast, someone’s excessive vanity and narcissism can lead him to perform, again and again, extremely dangerous feats of physical exertion (free-style climbing on skyscrapers, etc.), even to the point of getting himself killed, but—assuming he has no dependents, loving partner, or loving family—this is neither selfish nor prudent. On the other hand, obviously, narcissism, selfishness, and prudence are all perfectly compatible with one another too, in one and the same person’s character, choices, and actions. Indeed, the politicians that one loves to hate frequently exemplify just this compatible combination of egoistic traits, and each one of them to a very high degree. Donald Trump is an outstanding real-world example.
In any case, here is the more fully spelled-out and non-paradoxical formulation of the uniquely intermediate “externalistically internalist” Kantian view about practical reasons that I want to defend:
While normally, and other things being equal, all practical reasons are both motivating and justifying, nevertheless in some contexts in which things are neither normal nor equal, and this is specifically due to an intentional agent’s more or less wholehearted non-instrumental motivation, then at least some instrumental practical reasons are justifying but not motivating in those contexts.
This in turn is really possible because, as I am interpreting Kant’s theory of practical rationality and practical agency, this theory includes an early version of “the hierarchical-desire model of the will” later re-discovered by Harry Frankfurt.[xvi] According to Frankfurt’s model, the rational human will is capable of having “effective first-order desires,” which are desires for this or that, that do or will or would move us all the way to action, and also “second-order desires,” which are desires about first-order desires, e.g., the desire to desire this or that. Among our second-order desires, in turn, are special ones known as “second-order volitions,” which self-consciously determine just which effective first-order desires are to be the ones that do indeed move us all the way to action. But in the specifically contemporary Kantian version of the Frankfurtian model, however, there are, among the second-order volitions, certain ones that are characteristic of what Kant and Frankfurt alike call freedom of the will, that operate by not only self-consciously determining just which effective first-order desires do indeed move us all the way to action (which expresses Frankfurtian freedom of the will), but also (and this is the specifically Kantian supplement) can
either (i) de-rail an occurrent first-order desire which would otherwise have motivated the agent to action,
or else (ii) newly-and-spontaneously generate an effective first-order desire that substitutes itself for an occurrent first-order desire which would otherwise have motivated the agent to action.
On this contemporary Kantian/Frankfurtian hierarchical-desire model, then, Willkür, or the human power of choice/sensible will, is the faculty of effective first-order desires, or first-order volitions, and Wille, or practical reason (whether impure/instrumental or pure/non-instrumental), is the faculty of second-order volitions. The power of choice effectively desires ends or goals, and the satisfaction of desires produces pleasure or psychological happiness. Practical reason, in turn, recognizes the objective values of these ends or goals. When practical reason recognizes ends also as means for the production of happiness, it is instrumental. And when practical reason responds to ends for their own sake, it is non-instrumental. Practical reason is therefore a spontaneous responsiveness of the agent to reasons, inhering in the structure of the rational human will itself, that guides the agent to intentional action.
This, in turn, entails the denial of Henry Allison’s well-known “Incorporation Thesis,” according to which even instrumental motivation to action requires a separate act of non-desire-based practical reason, incorporating any first-order desire as a maxim, i.e., a conceptual-intellectual act-policy or rational resolution.[xvii] The Incorporation Thesis implies that practical reason is always the intellectualist “master,” and not the anti-intellectualist Humean “slave,” of the passions. By sharp contrast, according to my contemporary Kantian/Frankfurtian view, practical reason is neither the intellectualist master of the passions (i.e., a capacity essentially external to the passions), nor the anti-intellectualist Humean slave of the passions (i.e., a capacity essentially reducible to the passions). Instead, practical reason is the non-intellectualist guide of the passions (i.e., a capacity essentially internal to the passions, but not reducible to the passions), as a non-mechanical, spontaneous reasons-responsiveness inhering in the formal hierarchical-desire constitution of the rational human will itself, that expresses the agent’s reasons-directed intentional ability to guide and control her own passions for the natural purposes of choice and action. Put in terms of my neo-Aristotelian theory of immanent structural properties, practical reason is the activating immanent structure of the human will.[xviii]
For Kant, the recognition of a desire-overriding non-instrumental reason depends on the objective value of the Categorical Imperative, the moral law. But recognition of the Categorical Imperative or moral law also triggers an innate affective disposition in rational human agents for having more or less wholehearted, higher-order, essentially non-conceptual, non-self-conscious, non-propositional, non-inferential desires to achieve self-transcendence with respect to their egoistic (whether self-loving/narcissistic or self-inflating/selfish), hedonistic, or consequentialist inclinations, by desiring to be moved by non-egoistic, non-hedonistic, non-consequentialist effective first-order desires alone. This in turn is what Kant calls the “change,” “reversal,” or “revolution” of the human heart or power of choice/sensible will, insofar as a person responds affectively and effectively to the moral law:
If by a single and unalterable decision a human being reverses the supreme ground of his actions by which he was an evil human being (and thereby puts on a “new man”), he is, to this extent, by principle and attitude of mind, a subject receptive to the good; but he is a human being only in incessant laboring and becoming, i.e., he can hope … to find himself upon the good (though narrow) path of constant progress from bad to better. For him who penetrates to the intelligible ground of the heart (the ground of all the maxims of the power of choice/sensible will) …[xix] this is the same as actually being a good human being … and to this extent the change can be considered a revolution. (Rel 6: 48)
In other words, in his all-things-considered moral theory circa 1792, in Religion, Kant defends what I will call a higher-order affective innatism about motivation by non-instrumental reasons.
Now it is extremely important to recognize that sometimes this innately specified and spontaneously generated, higher-order, wholehearted, essentially non-conceptual, non-self-conscious, non-propositional, non-inferential desire for self-transcendence is in fact near-Satanically evil. This would be exemplified in any case in which someone cold-bloodedly tries to kill, or seriously harm, someone else, even though he knows that he is bound to be shot by the police for doing so.[xx] But also sometimes—namely, when it results from recognition of the Categorical Imperative/moral law—this innately specified and spontaneously generated more or less wholehearted higher-order desire for self-transcendence is morally good and right, and constitutes a revolution of the human heart. That morally good and right self-transcendence rarely happens in human affairs is fully acknowledged by Kant. But it is really possible, and as Kant firmly believed, and as I also firmly believe, it sometimes actually happens. Moral badness and moral evil happen all the time, all-too-obviously—but only insofar as revolutionary good and right happen, or at least really can happen, too.
These remarks raise the very difficult question of precisely how morally disvalued or wrong choice or action is ever possible according to a Kantian theory of practical agency. Here is the classical problem in a nutshell, as crisply formulated by Korsgaard:
It is the essential nature of action that it has a certain metaphysical property—autonomy in Kant’s argument, constitutional unity in Plato’s. This explains why action must meet the normative standard: it just isn’t action if it doesn’t. But it also seems as if it explains it rather too well, for it seems to imply that only good action really is action, and that there is nothing left for bad action to be.[xxi]
This, in turn, has the direct implication that the more morally evil or bad you are, then the less what you choose or do is authentically action, and the less you are morally responsible for choosing or doing it. Or otherwise put, if moral responsibility requires freedom of the will, and morally wrong (whether evil or bad) choice or action is unfree because it is not autonomous, then human agents are never morally responsible for wrong choice or action. But that is a morally absurd result—or at the very least, it seems highly paradoxical.
My own view is that this absurd or at least seemingly highly paradoxical result is the immediate consequence of Korsgaard’s mistakenly applying a One-Dimensional or 1D Conception of rational normativity to the Kantian theory of practical agency. By sharp contrast, the application of the Two-Dimensional or 2D Conception of rational normativity, together with affective innatism, to the Kantian theory of practical agency, effectively and smoothly solves the problem.
The basic idea behind the Kantian 2D solution to the problem is this. Every normal, healthy, human minded animal, as s/he matures, naturally and eventually comes to possess a set of basic online capacities for human rationality: then s/he is an agent in the minimal, nonideal, or “low bar” sense of meeting rational normative standards. This in turn is sufficient for causal and moral responsibility with respect to choices and actions, other things being equal. Then, morally disvalued or wrong choice or action is free choice or intentional performance that meets the minimal, nonideal, or “low bar” standards, yet also falls short of the maximal, ideal, or “high bar” standard of realized autonomy, occurrently having a good will, or occurrently acting for the sake of the Categorical Imperative. Or in other words, morally wrong action is simply, to use another classical Augustinian notion, the “privation”[xxii] of maximally, ideally, or perfectly good and right action, while still remaining fully within the framework of the innate capacity for minimally, nonideally, or imperfectly good action. All morally wrong choice or action flows from what Kant calls the fully natural “propensity to evil in human nature” or “radical evil,” that is, the fully natural and “human, all too human” disposition or tendency towards freely chosen moral disvalue or wrong, that is fundamentally caused by human egoism in all its forms, especially including self-love/narcissism (Eigenliebe) and self-inflation/selfishness (Eigendünkel). And this disposition or tendency is essentially the same as the other classical Augustinian notion I mentioned earlier in this section, “the perversity of the will,”[xxiii] or what Kant calls “the perversity of the human heart” (Rel 6: 30, 37).
Now some morally wrong choice or action is just that: nothing but a privation of maximally, ideally, or perfectly good and right action. Such choice or action also occurs under what Joseph Raz aptly calls “the Guise of the Good,”[xxiv] which is to say that it conforms to the classical Socratic idea that morally wrong choice or action is an erroneous, ignorant, or otherwise rationally misguided attempt to choose or do the good. That is non-evil morally bad choice or action. In turn, however, evil choice or action is a special sub-class of morally wrong choice or actions that involves the intention to undermine or violate the dignity of real persons. When evil choice or action also occurs under the Guise of the Good, and as it were Socratically, then it is banal evil. But when morally wrong choice or action is taken together with the innate capacity for having the desire for self-transcendence that is postulated by the Kantian higher-order affective innatism I spelled out just a few paragraphs back, then—as against Socrates, who thought this was impossible—the rational human animal or real human person simply chooses the wrong thing for its own sake, or non-instrumentally. This is what Raz also aptly calls choice or action under “the Guise of the Bad.”[xxv]
Formulated explicitly and fully now, according to this contemporary Kantian account of the real possibility of morally disvalued or wrong choice or action, then morally disvalued or wrong choice or action has three individually necessary and jointly sufficient features, and two distinct sub-kinds (i.e., moral evil and non-evil moral badness), one of which (i.e., moral evil) itself has two further distinct sub-kinds. Or, fully explicitly now, a practical agent A chooses or acts in a morally disvalued or wong way if and only if:
(i) A satisfies the minimal, nonideal, or “low bar” standards of rational normativity, thereby guaranteeing moral responsibility, and also
(ii) A falls short of the maximal, ideal, “high bar” standards of moral rational normativity, i.e., the Categorical Imperative or moral law (= morally bad action as the “privation” of ideally or perfectly good and right action), and also
(iii) A freely chooses or does the morally disvalued or wrong thing insofar as this choice or action is perverted by human egoism in any of its forms, thereby flowing from “the perversity of the will” or “the perversity of the heart,” which, in turn, can be
EITHER (iii.1) moral evil, that is, choice or action involving the intentional violation of people’s dignity, which is the same as treating them like like mere instruments, or what is worse, like mere things, or, what is even worse, like garbage or offal, which, in turn, can be
either (iii.1i) near-Satanic evil, that is, evil chosen or done for its own sake and under the Guise of the Bad, whatever the consequences, as the result of titanic egoism—e.g., Hitler,
or (iii.1ii) banal evil, that is, evil chosen or done for merely self-interested reasons (aka “banal egoism”), for hedonistic reasons, or for consequentialist reasons, and under the Guise of the Good —e.g., (Arendt’s) Eichmann,
OR (iii.2) non-evil moral badness, which is the non-evil privation of high-bar good, e.g., not doing enough to help others.
And that Kant himself is at least implicitly committed[xxvi] to this ramified, subtle 2D Conception is clearly implied by these texts:
CONCERNING THE PROPENSITY TO EVIL IN HUMAN NATURE. By propensity … I mean the subjective ground of the possibility of an inclination (habitual desire, concupiscentia), insofar as this possibility is contingent for humanity in general. It is distinguished from predisposition in that such a propensity can indeed be innate yet may be represented as not being such: it can rather be thought of (if it is good) as acquired, or (if evil) as brought by the human being upon himself. —Here, however, we are only talking of a propensity to genuine evil, i.e., moral evil, which, since it is only possible as the determination of a free power of choice and this power for its part can be judged good or evil only on the basis of its maxims, must reside in the subjective ground of the possibility of the deviation of the maxims from the moral law. And, if it is legitimate to assume that this propensity belongs to the human being universally (and hence to the character of the species), the propensity will be called a natural propensity of the human being to evil. —We can further add that the power of choice’s capacity or incapacity arising from this natural propensity to adopt or not to adopt the moral law in its maxims can be called the good or evil heart. (Rel 6: 29, underlining added)
According to our mode of estimation, [to us] who are unavoidably restricted to temporal conditions in our conceptions of the relationship of cause to effect, the deed, as a continuous advance in infinitum from a defective good to something better, always remains defective, so that we are bound to consider the good as it appears in us, i.e., according to the deed, as at each instant inadequate to a [moral] law. But because of the disposition from which it derives and transcends the senses, we can think of the infinite progression of the good toward conformity to the law as being judged by him who scrutinizes the heart … to be a perfected whole even with respect to the deed (the life conduct). (Rel 6: 67, underlining added)
If I am correct about all this, then the classical Humean and Kantian accounts of practical agency are much closer both in detail and spirit than has previously been thought. The crucial difference between them is Kant’s idea that the motivational force of an overriding morally right practical reason can be based exclusively on an innate emotional disposition for having higher-order wholehearted desires to be moved by morally appropriate non-egoistic or non-self-interested, non-hedonistic, non-consequentialist first-order desires. This innate emotional disposition, which corresponds to what Kant calls the capacity for “respect” or Achtung, is causally triggered by a person’s subjective experience or consciousness of recognizing the Categorical Imperative as an overriding, strictly universal, a priori, categorically normative, non-instrumental practical reason. As I also mentioned above, this subjective experience or consciousness of recognizing the Categorical Imperative, in turn, is the Fact/Affect of Reason.
In order to explicate, develop, and then defend this contemporary Kantian theory of practical freedom as free agency, I want to look more closely now at Kant’s rational teleology, i.e., his theory of practical ends or purposes, and also at his corresponding theory of the constitution of the human will, with special reference to its internal psychological structure and its characteristic activities or operations. Here are the relevant texts.
The will is a capacity to determine itself to acting in conformity with the representation of certain laws. And such a capacity can be found only in rational beings. Now, what serves the will as the objective ground of its self-determination is an end, and this, if it is given by reason alone, must hold equally for all rational beings. What, on the other hand, contains merely the ground of the possibility of an action the effect of which is an end is called a means. The subjective ground of desire is an incentive; the objective ground of volition is a motive; hence the distinction between subjective ends, which rest on incentives, and objective ends, which rest on motives, which hold for every rational being. Practical principles are formal if they abstract from all subjective ends, whereas they are material if they have put these, and consequently certain motives, at their basis. The ends that a rational being proposes at his discretion as effects of his actions (material ends) are all only relative; for only their mere relation to a specially constituted faculty of desire on the part of the subject gives them their worth, which can therefore furnish no universal principles, no principles valid and necessary for all rational beings and also for every volition, that is, no practical laws. Hence all these relative ends are only the ground of hypothetical imperatives. But suppose that there were something the existence of which in itself could be a ground of determinate laws; then in it, and in it alone, would lie the ground of a possible categorical imperative, that is, of a practical law…. Beings the existence of which rest on our will but on nature, if they are beings without reason, still have only relative worth, as means, and are therefore called things, whereas rational beings are called persons because their nature already marks them out as an end in itself, that is, as something that may not be used merely as a means, and hence so far limits all choice (and is an object of respect). These, therefore, are not merely subjective ends, the existence of which as an effect of our action has a worth for us, but rather objective ends, that is, beings the existence of which is in itself an end, and indeed one such that no other end, to which they would serve merely as a means, can be put in its place, since without it nothing of absolute worth would be found anywhere; but if all worth were conditional and therefore contingent, then no supreme practical principle for reason could be found anywhere. (GMM 4: 427-428)
In the kingdom of ends everything has either a price or a dignity. What has a price can be replaced by something else as its equivalent; what on the other hand is raised above all price and therefore admits of no equivalent has a dignity. What is related to general human inclinations and needs has a market price; that which, without presupposing a need, conforms with a certain taste, that is, with a delight in the mere purposeless play of our mental powers, has a fancy price; but that which constitutes the condition under which alone something can be an end in itself has not merely a relative worth, that is, a price, but an inner worth, that is, a dignity. (GMM 4: 434-435)
All material practical principles put the determining ground of the will in the lower faculty of desire, and were there no merely formal laws of the will sufficient to determine it, then neither could any higher faculty of desire be admitted…. The principle of one’s own happiness, however much understanding and reason may be used in it, still contains no determining ground for the will other than such as is suitable to the lower faculty of desire…. Then, only insofar as reason of itself (not in the service of the inclinations) determines the will, is reason a true higher faculty of desire, to which the pathologically determinable is subordinate, and then only is reason really, and indeed specifically, distinct from the latter, so that even the least admixture of the latter’s impulses infringes upon its strength and superiority. (CPrR 5: 22, 24-25)
The capacity for desiring in accordance with concepts, insofar as the ground determining it to action lies within itself and not in its object, is called the capacity for doing or refraining from doing as one pleases. Insofar as it is joined with one’s consciousness of the capacity to bring about one’s object by one’s action it is called the capacity for choice (Willkür); if it is not joined with this consciousness its act is called a wish. The capacity for desire whose inner determining ground, hence even what pleases it, lies within the subject’s reason, is called the will (Wille). The will is therefore the capacity for desire considered not so much in relation to action (as the capacity for choice is) but rather in relation to the ground determining choice to action. The will, strictly speaking, has no determining ground; insofar as it can determine the capacity for choice, it is instead practical reason itself. Insofar as reason can determine the capacity for desire in general, not only choice but mere wish can be included under the will. The choice which can be determined by pure reason is called free choice. That which can be determined only by inclination (sensible impulse, stimulus) would be animal choice (arbitrium brutum). Human choice, however, is a capacity for choice that can indeed be affected but not determined by impulses, and is therefore of itself (apart from an acquired aptitude of reason) not pure but still can be determined to action by pure will. Freedom of choice is this independence from being determined by sensible impulses; this is the negative concept of freedom. The positive concept of freedom is that of the capacity of pure reason to be itself practical. But this is not possible except by the subjection of the maxim of every action to the condition of its qualifying as universal law. (MM 6: 213-214)
As Tamar Schapiro has correctly pointed out, desires in the Kantian sense are not merely preferences for something, pro-attitudes towards something, or wishes for something. On the contrary, above and beyond those less active and less committed mental states or acts, a desire in the Kantian sense is a felt need for something, a conscious going-for something.[xxvii] According to Kant as I am reading him, and according to my contemporary Kantian view, then, desires are always felt needs or conscious goings-for, aimed at ends. Objective ends are intrinsic values, and provide motives for action—i.e., the motives directly corresponding to our motivating desires. Subjective ends are the pleasurable satisfactions of desires and the removal (or anyhow the control) of painful frustrations of desires, and provide incentives for action. Means are things valued only for the sake of ends, hence are only extrinsic values. Objective ends can have either a price or a dignity. For an end to have a price means that it has some equivalent which can be substituted for it. Price can either be market price (in terms of satisfaction of interests) or fancy price (in terms of disinterested satisfaction).
Dignity, by a fundamental contrast, is absolute intrinsic objective value, which is a real and objective yet non-empirical mode of value that is beyond all denumerable evaluative quantity, or price. This is because price includes, as a necessary condition, that it is a human-scaled (market- and fancy-) value quantity for which some denumerable equivalent, i.e., a rational or natural number equivalent, can be fixed. Price, in other words, is an economic value quantity. Now all and only real ends-in-themselves, or real persons, have dignity. In turn, the value of real persons, and non-instrumental moral value generally, is essentially a transfinite quantity, and human economics does not deal in transfinite quantities. I am not saying that economists cannot or do not use real numbers or complex numbers in their calculations; rather, what I mean is that when they translate their calculations into real-world quantities—e.g., of things bought, sold, and traded; or of dollars and cents—then those quantities are all denumerable. Correspondingly, the “dismal science” is not dismal because it is pessimistic: it is dismal because it is not about anything that is intrinsic to the lives of real persons. Hence the value of every real person, and only what partakes in the value of real persons, is inherently beyond all actual or possible human economics.
As we have already seen in passing, the Highest or Supreme Good of Kant’s ethics is having a good will in Kant’s sense (GMM 4: 393) (CPrR 5: 110-111), i.e., occurrently partially or completely realizing autonomy. The Realm of Ends, also called “the ethical community” (Rel 6: 94), is the total ideal or real[xxviii] moral community of rational human animals or real human persons, each of whom respects one another and themselves as creatures with dignity (absolute objective intrinsic non-denumerable moral value), and also considers all the others and themselves equally in relation to the Categorical Imperative/moral law; and, finally, each possesses a good will. The “sole and complete good,” (GMM 4: 396)—that is, the best life for any rational human animal or real human person—is a life of deep individual happiness and also deep communal or social happiness, that is “deep” precisely insofar as as it is intrinsically controlled and structured by a good will in the Kantian sense, and not merely “shallow” or morally accidental happiness.
Here, in turn, is Kant’s basic theory of the constitution of the human will, which I also fully accept—or at least I fully accept it as I am interpreting it, according to the Kantian/Frankfurtian hierarchical-desire model of the will I sketched above. The human will, or faculty of desire (Begehrungsvermögen), is our innate capacity for mobilizing and organizing our desires in order to motivate or move ourselves to choosing or doing, and in human persons the will is a rational human agent’s power of wanting, intending, deliberating, deciding, and trying. In turn, the human will or the faculty of desire has two levels:
(i) the lower or executive faculty of effective first-order desires, i.e., first-order volitions, the power of choice (Willkür), and
(ii) the higher or legislative faculty of second-order volitions, the will (Wille) proper, or the faculty of practical reason.
So the faculty of practical reason is a necessary proper part of the human will or faculty of desire. Moreover, the faculty of practical reason is the will in the proper or rational sense. In these ways, the faculty of practical reason is “the will proper” in two senses: it is an inherent part of the human will, and indeed the action-guiding core of the human will; and it also encapsulates the primary aim or end of the human will, which is to be a self-realizing rational human animal—i.e., principled and authentic, at least to some salient degree and extent. Otherwise put, according to my Kantian/Frankfurtian account, the human will or faculty of desire is a complex, integrated psychological structure that fuses desiderative animality and choice-or-action-guiding-and-controlling rationality,[xxix] and looks like this:
Human Will or Faculty of Desire (Begehrungsvermögen):
higher part = faculty of practical reason or will proper (Wille):
higher part = pure or non-instrumental reason
lower part = impure or instrumental reason
lower part = power of choice (Willkür)
In this Kantian/Frankfurtian model of the will, Willkür or the power of choice is an executive first-order volitional power of intentional causation by means of effective first-order desires. By contrast, Wille or the will proper is a higher-order volitional power of self-legislation that operates by means of recognizing either instrumental or non-instrumental reasons for the determination of choice. To act on the basis of Willkür is to move our animal bodies by means of our effective first-order desires. This can of course occur in a more or less Humean way by means of instrumental reasoning according to the hypothetical imperative. Since instrumental reasoning is itself a form of self-legislation, it thereby involves what we can call the “impure” Wille. Now the lower or executive faculty of desire, i.e., the power of choice, is normally motivated or moved by objective ends that are picked out by our egoistic or self-interested, hedonistic, or consequentialist desires, and constitute the “matter” of our happiness, which is the pleasurable satisfaction of desires and the removal (or anyhow the control) of their painful frustration. Insofar as the faculty of practical reason is concerned with these ends, it is an “impure” and instrumental reason. This is the lower faculty of practical reason. But it is also possible for the faculty of practical reason to be pure and non-instrumental, and therefore to be moved not by the matter of our happiness, but rather solely by the form of law-giving, i.e., by the structure of personhood or free agency itself, our essential nature as rational human animals, considered as an objective but purely formal end. This is the higher faculty of practical reason. The law that is given to themselves by human persons, i.e., by free agents who are rational human animals, is the Categorical Imperative or moral law, hence higher willing of this type is positive freedom or realized autonomy.
[i] D. Parfit, On What Matters, 2 vols. (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 2011), vol. 1, p. xliv.
[ii] —Together with my co-author, Michelle Maiese, that is: see Hanna and Maiese, Embodied Minds in Action, chs. 3-5. In that book, we develop a Frankfurt-inspired guidance-control theory of action that explicitly rejects the causal theory of action, as per Frankfurt’s “The Problem of Action.” But unlike standard Frankfurt-inspired theories of action, which are compatibilist/soft determinist—see, e.g., J. Fischer and M. Ravizza, Responsibility and Control (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1998)—our theory is neo-Aristotelian, and based on non-supervenient, essentially embodied, pre-reflectively conscious structuring causes.
[iii] See, e.g., C. Korsgaard, Creating the Kingdom of Ends (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1996); C. Korsgaard, The Sources of Normativity (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1996); C. Korsgaard, Self-Constitution: Agency, Identity, and Integrity (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 2009); and H. Sidgwick, The Methods of Ethics (London: Macmillan, 1907), pp. 511-516.
[iv] In fact there are several non-trivially different versions of Kantian Conceptualism. See R. Hanna, “Kant’s Theory of Judgment,” The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2013 Edition), E. N. Zalta (ed.), available online at URL = <http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/fall2013/entries/kant-judgment/>, supplement 1. For example, strong versions of Kantian Conceptualism hold that the understanding not only necessarily but also sufficiently determines all intentional contents. But those differences don’t matter for the point I’m making here.
[vi] See, e.g., I. Geiger, “Rational Feelings and Moral Agency,” Kantian Review 16 (2011):283-308; D. Guevara, Kant’s Theory of Moral Motivation (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 2000); R. McCarty, “Kantian Moral Motivation and the Feeling of Respect,” Journal of the History of Philosophy 31 (1993):421-435.; R. McCarty, “Motivation and Moral Choice in Kant’s Theory of Rational Agency,” Kant-Studien 85 (1994):15-31; J. Wuerth, Kant on Mind, Action, and Ethics (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 2014); and J. Wuerth, “Sense and Sensibility in Kant’s Practical Agent: Against the Intellectualism of Korsgaard and Sidgwick,” European Journal of Philosophy 21 (2013): 1-36.
[x] J. Milton, “Paradise Lost,” in J. Milton, The Poems of John Milton (2nd edn; New York: Ronald Press, 1953), pp. 204-487, act iv, lines 108-110.
[xii] See H. Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil (revised & enlarged edn.; Harmondsworth, Middlesex: Penguin, 1977). Historical evidence uncovered since then indicates that the actual Eichmann was, in fact, near-Satanically evil himself, so I’m using Arendt’s Eichmann as my example, not the actual Eichmann.
[xiv] See, e.g., most recently, M. Slote, From Enlightenment to Receptivity: Rethinking our Values (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 2013). Of course, I don’t deny that the classical caricature of Kant as “a cold, dry, rationalist” makes a very convenient philosophical punching-bag and strawman. But it’s not Kant.
[xv] See, e.g., B. Williams, “Internal and External Reasons,” in B. Williams, Moral Luck (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1981), pp. 101-113.
[xvi] See, e.g., H. Frankfurt, “Freedom of the Will and the Concept of a Person,” in H. Frankfurt, The Importance of What We Care About (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1988), pp. 11-25; H. Frankfurt, “Identification and Wholeheartedness,” in Frankfurt, The Importance of What We Care About, pp. 159-176; and Frankfurt, The Reasons of Love.
[xvii] See, e.g., Allison, Kant’s Theory of Freedom. The Incorporation Thesis is widely accepted in the contemporary Kant-literature. But it is metaphysically mysterious how a rational capacity that is essentially external to human desires can nevertheless act directly on desires and convert them into maxims. In effect, it is a local miracle of Agent-Causation that presupposes the philosophically implausible Timeless Agency Theory of freedom.
[xix] In this text, and in other related texts I quote from Religion within the Boundaries of Mere Reason, I have elided references to God. This is not because I think that the notion of God is unimportant in Kant’s conception of practical rationality and moral agency—on the contrary, it is of fundamental importance—but only because Kant’s moral theology is exceptionally subtle, even by Kantian standards. Hence discussing it here would only add needless complexity and length to the present account. In any case, I discuss Kant’s moral theology in detail in R. Hanna, “If God’s Existence is Unprovable, Then is Everything Permitted? Kant, Radical Agnosticism, and Morality,” DIAMETROS 39 (2014): 26-69. For an alternative account of the same material, see A. Chignell, “Rational Hope, Moral Order, and the Revolution of the Will,” in E. Watkins (ed.), Divine Order, Human Order, and the Order of Nature (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 2013), pp. 197-218; and A. Chignell, What May I Hope? (London: Routledge, 2015).
[xx] In such a case, moreover, it’s entirely likely that the police are acting immorally too. The moral constraint on using guns obtains whenever and insofar as the assailant can be effectively and permissibly stopped without using guns. See Hanna, Kant, Agnosticism, and Anarchism, section 14.
[xxii] See, e.g., Augustine, “Enchiridion on Faith, Hope, and Love,” in S. Cahn and P. Markie (eds.), Ethics: History, Theory, and Contemporary Issues (3rd edn., New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 2006), pp. 195-202.
[xxviii] In Kant, Agnosticism, and Anarchism, part 2, I focus on what I call the real realm of ends, which is the ethical community consisting of all actual, Earth-bound rational human animals in the process of striving towards the regulative Idea of a post-State, ethical anarchist condition, aka “the sole and complete good” on earth, aka “God’s kingdom” on earth.
Confusingly, in the Critique of Practical Reason (CPrR 5: 110-111), Kant uses the term “the highest good” to mean the same as what he had called “the sole and complete good” in the Groundwork, namely the ethical totality consisting of human happiness proportioned to moral virtue (GMM 4: 396). The notion of this ethical totality, in turn, is the same as the third Postulate of Pure Practical Reason, the moral belief in God’s existence as a regulative Idea, since only an all-powerful and all-good God could create such an ethical totality (CPrR 5: 124-132). By contrast, in the Groundwork, “the highest good” means a good will (GMM 4: 393-394), which is the same as what he calls “the supreme good” in the second Critique (CPrR 5: 111).
To be sure, all of these slightly different notions are essentially connected, since the supreme good (i.e., a good will) is the formal essence and immanent structure of the sole and complete good (i.e., the ethical totality consisting of human happiness proportioned to moral virtue) that only an all-powerful and all-good God could create. Finally, when this ethical totality is not merely a moral belief or regulative Idea of pure practical reason, but is actually implemented in the world, spread out over all of humanity, over the long haul, then it is the sole and complete good on earth, or God’s kingdom on earth.
[xxix] In “The Nature of Inclination,” Schapiro aptly calls this a “middle road” approach to the nature of the will, i.e., one that neither identifies the will with desire nor over-intellectualizes the will.
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