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Karl Schafer
University of Texas at Austin
  1. Kant: constitutivism as capacities-first philosophy.Karl Schafer - 2019 - Philosophical Explorations 22 (2):177-193.
    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 (...)
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  2. Constitutivism about Reasons: Autonomy and Understanding.Karl Schafer - 2018 - In Karen Jones & François Schroeter (eds.), The Many Moral Rationalisms. New York: Oxford Univerisity Press.
    Contemporary forms of Kantian constitutivism generally begin with a conception of agency on which the constitutive aim of agency is some form of autonomy or self-unification. This chapter argues for a re-orientation of the Kantian constitutivist project towards views that begin with a conception of rationality on which both theoretical and practical rationality aim at forms of understanding. In a slogan, then, understanding-first as opposed to autonomy-first constitutivism. Such a view gives the constitutivist new resources for explaining many classes of (...)
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  3. Kant on Method.Karl Schafer - forthcoming - In Andrew Stephenson & Anil Gomes (eds.), Oxford Handbook of Kant. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
    In this article I offer an opinionated overview of the central elements of Kant’s philosophical methodology during the critical period. I begin with a brief characterization of how Kant conceives of the aims of human inquiry – focusing on the idea that inquiry ideally aims at not just cognition (Erkenntnis), but also the more demanding cognitive achievements that Kant labels insight (Einsehen) and comprehension (Begreifen). Then I explore the implications of this picture for philosophy — emphasizing Kant’s distinction between critical (...)
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  4. The Modesty of the Moral Point of View.Karl Schafer - 2016 - In Errol Lord & Barry Maguire (eds.), Weighing Reasons. Oup Usa.
    In recent years, several philosophers - including Joshua Gert, Douglas Portmore, and Elizabeth Harman - have argued that there is a sense in which morality itself does not treat moral reasons as consistently overriding.2 My aim in the present essay is to develop and extend this idea from a somewhat different perspective. In doing so, I offer an alternative way of formalizing the idea that morality is modest about the weight of moral reasons in this way, thereby making more explicit (...)
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  5. Mental Faculties and Powers and the Foundations of Hume’s Philosophy.Karl Schafer - 2024 - In Sebastian Bender & Dominik Perler (eds.), Powers and Abilities in Early Modern Philosophy. Routledge.
    With respect to the topic of “powers and abilities,” most readers will associate David Hume with his multi-pronged critique of traditional attempts to make robust explanatory use of those notions in a philosophical or scientific context. But Hume’s own philosophy is also structured around the attribution to human beings of a variety of basic faculties or mental powers – such as the reason and the imagination, or the various powers involved in Hume’s account of im- pressions of reflection and the (...)
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  6. Practical Understanding, Rationality, and Social Critique.Karl Schafer - forthcoming - In Carla Bagnoli & Stefano Bacin (eds.), Reason, Agency and Ethics. Oxford University Press.
    In this essay, I will outline a novel strategy for using constitutivist ideas from Kantian metaethics to critique social practices and institutions. In doing so, I do not mean to defend this model of critique as the only viable form of social and political critique, even within a Kantian framework – nor, indeed, as always the most appropriate. But I hope to show that it provides us with a form of critique that allows us to (i) develop a robust critique (...)
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  7. Epistemic Planning, Epistemic Internalism, and Luminosity.Karl Schafer - 2018 - In Conor McHugh, Jonathan Way & Daniel Whiting (eds.), Metaepistemology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    In in this paper, I make use of an “doxastic planning model” of epistemic evaluation to argue for a form of epistemic internalism. In doing so, I begin by responding to a recent argument of Schoenfield’s against my previous attempt to develop such an argument. In doing so, I distinguish a variety of ways that argument might be understood, and discuss how both internalists and externalists might make use of the ideas within it. Then I argue that, despite these complexities, (...)
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  8. Evolutionary Debunking Arguments, Explanatory Structure, and Anti-Realism.Karl Schafer - 2017 - In Karsten Stueber & Remy Debes (eds.), Ethical Sentimentalism: New Perspectives. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 66-85.
    In this essay, I distinguish two different epistemological strategies an anti-realist might pursue in developing an "evolutionary debunking" of moral realism. Then I argue that a moral realist can resist both of these strategies by calling into question the epistemological presuppositions on which they rest. Nonetheless, I conclude that these arguments point to a legitimate source of dissatisfaction about many forms of moral realism. I conclude by discussing the way forward that these conclusions indicate.
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  9. The Beach of Skepticism: Kant and Hume on the Practice of Philosophy and the Proper Bounds of Skepticism.Karl Schafer - 2021 - In Peter Thiekle (ed.), Cambridge Critical Guide to Kant’s Prolegomena. Cambridge. pp. 111-132.
    The focus of this chapter will be Kant’s understanding of Hume, and its impact on Kant’s critical philosophy. Contrary to the traditional reading of this relationship, which focuses on Kant’s (admittedly real) dissatisfaction with Hume’s account of causation, my discussion will focus on broader issues of philosophical methodology. Following a number of recent interpreters, I will argue that Kant sees Hume as raising, in a particularly forceful fashion, a ‘demarcation challenge’ concerning how to distinguish the legitimate use of reason in (...)
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