Kant 1: Do as you
presume not as you say
: Audrey, Stephen, Adam 1/22/14
1. What is the nature of the argument?
- or more loosely, how is the author trying to make his/her case?
Kant argues throughout these sections that history has a general upward trend towards a more progressive morality.
- what is the rhetorical form of the argument? i.e., does it make appeal to authorities, to history, to logic, to the reader's introspection ....?
KantŐs argumentation makes appeals to deductive logic (a priori-istic), especially in pages 3-16 where he sets up his nine propositions going from the large claim that humanŐs Ňnatural predispositions are destined eventually to develop fully and in accordance with their purposeÓ and developing downward from there to claim that this progression and development leads to a Ňuniversal history of the world according to a plan of nature.Ó 4, 14
- to whom is the writing addressed? or for whom is it intended?
He is writing this for other political philosophers who are engaged in the debate about whether or not it is conducive for human beings to live in a liberal society.
2. Who/What is the argument against?
- identify the targets, other authors or systems of thought that this author is bent on challenging.
Hobbes, Moses Mendelssohn
Hobbes- He is trying to argue against HobbesŐ view of an innate violent human nature as a negative in favor of a progressive human nature that uses rationality to move forward in history past violence. Hobbes believes in the necessity of a central power authority and Kant contrasts this through his progressive philosophies saying that an illiberal society is not conducive to the creation of a civil society. 44
Mendelssohn- Kant was arguing against the idea that history is oscillating back and forth and not making solid progress forward. 60
3. What is the argument?
- or more loosely, what is the author trying to do? persuade the reader of?
The author is trying to convince people of the necessity of a commonwealth in order to reject immaturity and embrace rationality as a way to progress human nature.
- does the author clearly state his/her intention? if so, what is it?
Yes, to promote constant progression within a commonwealth and towards greater cosmopolitan civil societies. To persuade scholars to accept liberality as part of the progression towards a more civil society.
- be sure to pay attention to what the author is saying concerning our three focal points:
i. human nature: what theory is developed, what assumptions are made?
That humanŐs are antagonistic and rational in nature and that those two capacities in conjunction are what allow us to cultivate civil society. As individuals humanŐs are prone to immaturity and selfish animal inclinations (9), however as a group humans can create civil society and social contracts that allow for progression.
ii. ethics: how does ethics figure in the argument? is the author engaging in moral condemnation or moral prescription, if so, on the basis of what sort of ethical theory?
KantŐs moral prescription is one of universality.. He promotes a logical ethic that is adopted universally and is therefore moral. Categorical imperative.
iii. politics: what is politics according to the author? what should the purposes of politics be?
Politics is the creation of commonwealths to progress towards a more civil society.
- does the author employ or develop any specific concepts that deserve attention?
Antagonism- unsociable sociability (6)
Freedom of the will (3)- you are free to do whatever to do whatever you want as long as it does not infringe on the freedom of others (45)
3a. What does the author regard as the distinctive problems and possibilities in the Modern Age
- on what are they focusing?
Problems- International trade, a form of globalization and cosmopolitanism, exploits certain peoples. KantŐs problem with modernity is that there is a double edged sword, where conflict between nations is both harmful but allows for the creation of greater commonwealths.
Possibilities- This however, is also a possibility because this friction between peoples and countries allows for the search for global solutions that connects the commonwealths.
3b. How does the author address liberty, equality, and fraternity?
- how does the author define, conceptualize, and operationalize each concept?
- how does the author prioritize them.
Each is necessary for the creation of a civil constitution. He prioritizes them in the sense that he believes that the existence of freedom allows for equality and therefore independence within a community or brotherhood.
4. what are the strengths of the author's argument?
- does the author succeed in challenging his/her targets?
- any insights, valuable distinctions?
- good use of evidence?
References to past progression of of history was strong
- are you persuaded?
5. what are the weaknesses of the author's argument?
- what, if anything, has the author unduly neglected or missed?
He pushes the burden of proof onto those who disagrees with him about an upward trajectory of history. He also fails to provide a weighing mechanism to show that current culture and morality is better than that which existed in the past.
- anything implausible, illogical, unargued?
He does not effectively provide reasoning behind his very first proposition that everything has a purpose to fulfill. He argues against innate knowledge using innate knowledge (3,5).
- does the author fail to challenge significantly his/her targets?
When he disagrees with Mendelssohn he simply shifts the burden of proof to him and does not disprove his theory of oscillating history.
- why are you not persuaded? where did the author lose you?
Page 5 innate knowledge