University of California, Berkeley
Department of Philosophy
PhD, 2012
Chapel Hill, North Carolina, United States of America
Areas of Specialization
Immanuel Kant
Areas of Interest
History of Western Philosophy
  •  28
    A Priori Intuition and Transcendental Necessity in Kant’s Idealism
    European Journal of Philosophy. forthcoming.
    I examine how Kant argues for the transcendental ideality of space. I defend a reading on which Kant accepts the ideality of space because it explains our (actual) knowledge that mathematical judgments are necessarily true. I argue that this reading is preferable over the alternative suggestion that Kant can infer the ideality of space directly from the fact that we have an a priori intuition of space. Moreover, I argue that the reading I propose does not commit Kant to incoherent modal views. I…Read more
  •  153
    I argue that Kant acknowledges two models of spontaneous self-determination that rational beings are capable of. The first model involves absolute unconditional necessity and excludes any form of contingency. The second model involves (albeit not as a matter of definition) a form of contingency which entails alternative possibilities for determining oneself. The first model would be exhibited by a divine being; the second model is exhibited by human beings. Human beings do, however, partake in t…Read more
  •  26
    Kant on the Sources of Metaphysics: The Dialectic of Pure Reason by Marcus Willaschek (review)
    Journal of the History of Philosophy 58 (1): 181-182. 2020.
    This book is about the Transcendental Dialectic in Kant's Critique of Pure Reason. Unlike most other treatments of this subject matter, it does not focus on Kant's criticisms of metaphysical arguments. Rather, it considers Kant's account of why "metaphysical speculation about the unconditioned"—for instance, about objects like God or the entire world—"arises naturally and inevitably out of the very structure of human reason".Willaschek posits "a three-part template underlying" Kant's account of …Read more
  •  71
    Kant on Cognizing Oneself as a Spontaneous Cognizer
    Canadian Journal of Philosophy 50 (3): 395-412. 2020.
    I examine a range of issues concerning Kant's conception of cognitive spontaneity. I consider whether we can cognize or know ourselves as spontaneous cognizers, and why Kant seems to regard the notion of cognitive spontaneity as less problematic than the idea of moral spontaneity. As an organizing theme of my discussion, I use an apparent tension between the A-edition and the B-edition of the first Critique. Against common interpretations, I argue that in the B-edition Kant does not revoke his c…Read more
  •  68
    Kafka on the Loss of Purpose and the Illusion of Freedom
    Polish Journal of Aesthetics 53 (2/2019: The Philosopher Franz K): 69-60. 2019.
    I argue that Kafka's writings express the idea that our sense of freedom is deceptive. It is deceptive because we cannot discern any proper purpose or destination that would allow us to make truly meaningful choices. Kafka's thought here relates to the existentialist view of Kierkegaard, but it radicalizes that view by depriving it of its teleological dimension.
  •  70
    I examine the extent to which God is inscrutable to human reason in Kant's critical philosophy. I argue that Kant's view here is much more radical than the rationalist commonplace that we cannot grasp how divine perfection is compatible with the existence of (apparent) imperfections. In Kant's considered view, we are absolutely incapable of accurately representing God's nature in any minimally determinate way: when we try to go beyond the empty idea of a mere 'something', we inevitably distort t…Read more
  •  2
    Struggle and Victory in Kafka's "Das Schloß"
    The Modern Language Review 101 (4): 1035-1043. 2006.
    This essay is an attempt to interpret the behaviour of K. in Kafka's novel "Das Schloß". The focus is on three episodes that stand, respectively, at the beginning, the middle, and the end of the novel. In all of these episodes, the concepts of 'struggle' and 'victory' play a crucial role. By paying attention to the usage of these concepts, the passages under investigation can be shown to be interrelated in a significant way. Making these connections explicit allows one to draw some far-reaching …Read more
  •  48
    The Metaphysical Deduction and the Shadow of Humean Skepticism
    Kant-Studien 109 (3): 367-394. 2018.
    I examine the division of labor between the Metaphysical Deduction (MD) and the Transcendental Deduction (TD). Against a common reading, I argue that the MD is insufficient to prove the a priori origin of the categories. For both Kant and his main opponent, namely Hume, the question of whether the categories have an a priori origin in the pure understanding is inseparable from the question of whether they have objective validity. Since the MD does not establish the objective validity of the cate…Read more
  •  29
    Kant’s Standpoint Distinction
    Kantian Review 23 (2): 229-255. 2018.
    I examine what Kant means when he appeals to different "standpoints". I argue that Kant seeks to contrast an empirical, anthropocentric standpoint with a normative, more than human standpoint. Against common interpretations, I argue that the normative standpoint is not confined to practical reason, since theoretical reason is concerned with what ought to be as well. Finally, I defend the coherence of Kant’s distinction against important objections.
  •  171
    “Naturrecht Feyerabend” is a collection of student notes taken on a lecture that Kant gave around the time he was working on the Groundwork. I show that these notes portray Kant as proposing a defense of morality and freedom whose “subjectivism” is unparalleled by anything that we find in his major published works. Kant here traces both the normativity of the moral principle that we must treat humanity as an end in itself and the legitimacy of regarding ourselves as free agents to the subjective…Read more
  •  50
    In the Metaphysics of Morals, Kant declares that virtue “can and must be taught.” This claim raises two problems. First, it is in tension with Kant’s emphasis on the absolute moral responsibility that each individual agent owes to her transcendental freedom. Second, it raises the question of how the empirical events that constitute moral education can have an impact on atemporal moral choices. Concerning the second issue, I argue that Kant has a coherent framework for representing how empirical …Read more
  •  46
    The Normativity of Prudence
    Kant-Studien 108 (4): 517-542. 2017.
    Kant's account of “precepts of prudence” raises a striking interpretive puzzle. On the one hand, he presents such precepts as normative-practical rules; on the other hand, he relegates them to theoretical philosophy. I argue that to render these two strands coherent, we must assume that our empirical nature is a source of normativity for us: prudence is normative for us just because we have an “unconditional” empirical desire for obtaining happiness, a maximum of pleasant sensations. Since rules…Read more
  •  23
    Kant's Critique of Instrumental Reason
    Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 99 (3): 489-516. 2018.
    Many commentators hold that in addition to the categorical imperative of morality, Kant also posits an objective law of non-moral practical rationality, 'the' Hypothetical Imperative. On this view, the appeal to the Hypothetical Imperative increases the dialectical options that Kantians have vis-a-vis Humean skepticism about the authority of reason, and it allows for a systematic explanation of the possibility of non-moral weakness of will. I argue that despite its appeal, this interpretation ca…Read more
  •  76
    Kant on Determinism and the Categorical Imperative
    Ethics 125 (2): 331-356. 2015.
    I provide a sympathetic reconstruction of Kant’s motivation for endorsing incompatibilism about human freedom. On my interpretation, Kant holds that if all the determining grounds of our actions were subject to natural necessity, we would never be free to respect or defy laws of practical reason, and for Kant such freedom is a condition for the possibility that our actions are governed by categorical imperatives. I argue that his view rests on a gripping construal of the rational imperfection th…Read more
  •  72
    To many readers, it has seemed that Kant's discussion of the relation between practical and transcendental freedom in the Transcendental Dialectic is inconsistent with his discussion of the same relation in the Canon of Pure Reason. In this paper I argue for a novel way of preserving the consistency of Kant's view: in both the Dialectic and the Canon, 'transcendental freedom' requires the absence of determination by all natural causes, whereas 'practical freedom' requires the absence of determin…Read more
  •  95
    Kant on Freedom of Empirical Thought
    Journal of the History of Philosophy 53 (2): 301-26. 2015.
    It is standardly assumed that, in Kant, “free agency” is identical to moral agency and requires the will or practical reason. Likewise, it is often held that the concept of “spontaneity” that Kant uses in his theoretical philosophy is very different from, and much thinner than, his idea of practical spontaneity. In this paper I argue for the contrary view: Kant has a rich theory of doxastic free agency, and the spontaneity in empirical thought (which culminates in judgments of experience) is ess…Read more
  •  86
    Kant on Idealism, Freedom, and Standpoints
    Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie 98 (1): 21-54. 2016.
    I propose a new way of understanding Kant’s doctrine of freedom. My reading seeks to combine features of two popular opposed lines of interpretation, namely, of metaphysical and anti-metaphysical readings. I defend the view that Kant’s idealist attempt to ‘save’ human freedom involves substantive metaphysical commitments. However, I show that this interpretation can fruitfully integrate important insights that are standardly associated with deflationary readings: first, the idea that for Kant fr…Read more
  •  91
    I attempt to answer the question of what Aristotle's criteria for 'being a substance' are in the Categories. On the basis of close textual analysis, I argue that subjecthood, conceived in a certain way, is the criterion that explains why both concrete objects and substance universals must be regarded as substances. It also explains the substantial primacy of concrete objects. But subjecthood can only function as such a criterion if both the subjecthood of concrete objects and the subjecthood of …Read more
  •  49
    Radical Evil As A Regulative Idea
    Journal of the History of Philosophy 55 (4): 641-673. 2017.
    Kant's doctrine of the radical evil in human nature invites at least two serious worries: first, it is unclear how Kant could establish the claim that all human beings adopt an evil maxim; second, this claim seems to conflict with central features of Kant's doctrine of freedom. I argue, via criticisms of various charitable interpretations, that these problems are indeed insuperable if we read Kant as trying to establish that all human beings are evil as a matter of fact. I then develop an altern…Read more
  •  313
    Kant on the Inapplicability of the Categories to Things in Themselves
    British Journal for the History of Philosophy 23 (1): 90-114. 2015.
    This paper addresses the question of what we can legitimately say about things in themselves in Kant's critical doctrine. Many Kant scholars believe that Kant allows that things in themselves can be characterized through the unschematized or ‘pure’ concepts of our understanding such as ‘substance’ or ‘causality’. However, I show that on Kant's view things in themselves do not conform to the unschematized categories : the pure categories, like space and time, are merely subjective forms of finite…Read more
  •  197
    Kant and 'Ought Implies Can'
    Philosophical Quarterly 65 (261): 690-710. 2015.
    Although Kant is often considered the founding father of the controversial principle ‘Ought Implies Can’ (OIC), it is not at all clear how Kant himself understands and defends this principle. This essay provides a substained interpretation of Kant's views on OIC. I argue that Kant endorses two versions of OIC: a version that is concerned with our physical capacities, and a version that posits a link between moral obligation and a volitional power of choice. I show that although there are importa…Read more