•  124
    Kant on Autonomy and the Value of Persons
    Kantian Review 18 (2): 241-262. 2013.
    This essay seeks to contribute to current debates about value in Kant's ethics. Its main objective is to dislodge the widely shared intuition that his view of autonomy requires constructivism or some other alternative to moral realism. I argue the following. Kant seems to think that the value of persons is due to their very nature, not to what anyone decides is the case (however rational or pure those decisions may be). He also seems to think that when we treat persons as ends in themselves we a…Read more
  •  104
    Habitual Desire: On Kant’s Concept of Inclination
    Kantian Review 21 (2): 211-235. 2016.
    Tamar Schapiro has offered an important new ‘Kantian’ account of inclination and motivation, one that expands and refines Christine Korsgaard’s view. In this article I argue that Kant’s own view differs significantly from Schapiro’s. Above all, Kant thinks of inclinations as dispositions, not occurrent desires; and he does not believe that they stem directly from a non-rational source, as she argues. Schapiro’s ‘Kantian’ view rests on a much sharper distinction between the rational and non-ratio…Read more
  •  89
    Self‐Legislation and Self‐Command in Kant's Ethics
    Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 96 (2): 256-278. 2015.
    In his later writings, Kant distinguishes between autonomy and self-mastery or self-command. My article explains the relation between these two ideas, both of which are integral to his understanding of moral agency and the pursuit of virtue. I point to problems with other interpretations of this relation and offer an alternative. On my view, self-command is a condition or state achieved by those agents who become proficient at solving problems presented by the passions. Such agents are able to s…Read more
  •  75
    Is Kant's Concept of Autonomy Absurd?
    History of Philosophy Quarterly 26 (2). 2009.
    It is well known that Kant bases morality on the autonomy of the will, which he defines as the "the property of the will by which it is a law to itself" (GMS 4:440). He thus locates the normative basis for all the demands of morality in the capacity of persons to be self-legislating. Many philosophers take this to be an attractive and distinctively modern form of moral theory. It establishes the individual's own reason as the highest authority in the moral realm and grants her the capacity to su…Read more
  •  59
    Kantian Autonomy and the Moral Self
    Review of Metaphysics 62 (2): 355-381. 2008.
    This essay examines the connection between the concept of autonomy and the concept of an ideal, moral self in Kant’s practical philosophy. Its central thesis is that self-legislation does not rest on the capacity to exempt oneself from nature’s causal network. Instead, it rests on the practical capacity for identification with what Kant calls an individual’s “moral personality.” A person’s ability to identify with this morally ideal version of himself gives shape to his will, enabling him to dec…Read more
  •  53
    Accessing Kant: A relaxed introduction to the critique of pure reason (review)
    Journal of the History of Philosophy 46 (4). 2008.
    In the Preface to his impressive and engaging new commentary on the Critique of Pure Reason, Jay Rosenberg informs us that the book is both a product of his own lectures and a “direct descendent of Wilfrid Sellars’ legendary introduction to Kant” . Its origins in the classroom give Accessing Kant a refreshingly pedagogical tone. Throughout, Rosen-berg—who was a student of Sellars’ at the University of Pittsburgh—makes felicitous use of clear examples, familiar problems and authors, and visual ai…Read more
  •  47
    Kant and the Selfish Hypothesis
    Social Theory and Practice 41 (3): 377-402. 2015.
    One of the major debates of early modern philosophy concerned what David Hume called “the selfish hypothesis.” According to this view, all human conduct is motivated by self-love. Influential versions can be found in the writings of Hobbes, Mandeville, the Jansenists, and La Rochefoucauld. Important critics of this view included Butler, Shaftesbury, Hutcheson, Rousseau, Hume, and Smith. My essay argues that we should add Kant to this list of critics. I propose that Kant knew about this important…Read more
  •  46
    The Value of Humanity in Kant’s Moral Theory (review)
    Journal of the History of Philosophy 46 (2): 327-328. 2008.
    As is well known, Kant presents several versions of the Categorical Imperative in the Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals. Traditionally readers have focused on the “universal law” formulation of his famous moral principle. Friends of Kant have found in the FUL an appealingly formal and seemingly rigorous criterion for right action, while foes have found in it a convenient whipping boy. Recently, however, much attention has shifted to the “humanity” formulation of the Categorical Imperative…Read more
  •  46
    On the Nature of Judgment in Kant’s Transcendental Logic
    Idealistic Studies 40 (1-2): 43-63. 2010.
    This essay explores Kant’s account of judging. In it, I argue for two central claims. First, Kant defines the act of judgment as the exercise of a particular type of authority (Befugnis). When a person makes a judgment, she makes a claim to speak for everyone, and not just herself. She puts something forward as true. Kant’s term for this discursive authority is “objectivity validity,” and he identifies this as the essential feature of judging. Second, the Categories and the Principles are what a…Read more
  •  30
    German Idealism: The Struggle Against Subjectivism, 1781-1801 (review)
    Journal of the History of Philosophy 41 (2): 278-279. 2003.
    In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:Journal of the History of Philosophy 41.2 (2003) 278-279 [Access article in PDF] Frederick C. Beiser. German Idealism: The Struggle Against Subjectivism, 1781-1801. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2002. Pp. xvi + 726. Cloth, $59.95. With German Idealism Frederick Beiser adds to his already impressive body of work on classical German Philosophy. The aim of his book is to provide a historical account of the various forms the n…Read more
  •  20
    Kant and the Limits of Autonomy by Susan Meld Shell (review)
    Journal of the History of Philosophy 51 (2): 322-323. 2013.
  •  18
    Bad Habits: The Nature and Origin of Kantian Passions
    History of Philosophy Quarterly 37 (4): 371-390. 2020.
    According to Kant, passions are a distinct type of inclination. Unlike normal inclinations, however, they are inherently destructive—much like addictions. Recent scholarship on Kant's view has left two important questions unanswered. First, what is the key trouble-making difference between passions and normal inclinations? Second, what mental processes give rise to passions in the first place? My article answers both questions. I argue that passions involve a form of tunnel vision or hyperfocus …Read more
  •  10
    Keep it fake: inventing an authentic life
    Sarah Crichton Books, Farrar, Straus, and Giroux. 2015.
    Shoot straight from the hip. Tell it like it is. Keep it real. We love these commands, especially in America, because they invoke what we love to believe: that there is an authentic self to which we can be true. But while we mock Tricky Dick and Slick Willie, we are inventing identities on Facebook, paying thousands for plastic surgeries, tuning into news that simply verifies our opinions. This is frontier forthrightness gone dreamy: reality bites, after all, and faith-based initiatives trump re…Read more