Kant: constitutivism as capacities-first philosophy

Philosophical Explorations 22 (2):177-193 (2019)
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Abstract

Over the last two decades, Kant’s name has become closely associated with the “constitutivist” program within metaethics. But is Kant best read as pursuing a constitutivist approach to meta- normative questions? And if so, in what sense? In this essay, I’ll argue that we can best answer these questions by considering them in the context of a broader issue – namely, how Kant understands the proper methodology for philosophy in general. The result of this investigation will be that, while Kant can indeed be read as a sort of constitutivist, his constitutivism is ultimately just one instance of a much more general approach to philosophy – which treats as fundamental our basic, self-conscious rational capacities. Thus, to truly understand why and how Kant is a constitutivist, we need to consider this question within the context of his more fundamental commitment to “capacities-first philosophy”.

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Karl Schafer
University of Texas at Austin

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