• The Sublime
    Cambridge University Press. 2018.
    This Element considers Kant's account of the sublime in the context of his predecessors both in the Anglophone and German rationalist traditions. Since Kant says with evident endorsement that 'we call sublime that which is absolutely great' and nothing in nature can in fact be absolutely great, Kant concludes that strictly speaking what is sublime can only be the human calling to perfect our rational capacity according to the standard of virtue that is thought through the moral law. The Element …Read more
  • Kant on Reflection and Virtue
    Cambridge University Press. 2018.
    There can be no doubt that Kant thought we should be reflective: we ought to care to make up our own minds about how things are and what is worth doing. Philosophical objections to the Kantian reflective ideal have centred on concerns about the excessive control that the reflective person is supposed to exert over her own mental life, and Kantians who feel the force of these objections have recently drawn attention to Kant’s conception of moral virtue as it is developed in his later work, chief…Read more
  • Sublimity and Joy: Kant on the Aesthetic Constitution of Virtue
    In Matthew Altman (ed.), The Palgrave Kant Handbook, Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 447-467. 2017.
    This chapter argues that Kant’s aesthetic theory of the sublime has particular relevance for his ethics of virtue. Kant contends that our readiness to revel in natural sublimity depends upon a background commitment to moral ends. Further lessons about the emotional register of the sublime allow us to understand how Kant can plausibly contend that the temperament of virtue is both sublime and joyous at the same time.
  • In A Case for Irony, Jonathan Lear aims to advance “a distinguished philosophical tradition that conceives of humanity as a task” by returning this tradition to the ironic figure at its origin — Socrates. But he is hampered by his reliance on well-worn philosophical examples. I suggest that Elena Ferrante’s The Lost Daughter illustrates the mode of ironic experience that interests Lear, and helps us to think through his relation to Christine Korsgaard, arguably the greatest contemporary propon…Read more
  • Attention and Synthesis in Kant's Conception of Experience
    Philosophical Quarterly 67 (268): 571-592. 2017.
    In an intriguing but neglected passage in the Transcendental Deduction, Kant appears to link the synthetic activity of the understanding in experience with the phenomenon of attention (B156-7n). In this paper, we take up this hint, and draw upon Kant's remarks about attention in the Anthropology to shed light on the vexed question of what, exactly, the understanding's role in experience is for Kant. We argue that reading Kant's claims about synthesis in this light allows us to combine two aspect…Read more
  • Love, Respect, and Individuals: Murdoch as a Guide to Kantian Ethics
    European Journal of Philosophy 25 (4): 1844-1863. 2017.
    I reconsider the relation between love and respect in Kantian ethics, taking as my guide Iris Murdoch's view of love as the fundamental moral attitude and a kind of attention to individuals. It is widely supposed that Kantian ethics disregards individuals, since we don't respect individuals but the universal quality of personhood they instantiate. We need not draw this conclusion if we recognise that Kant and Murdoch share a view about the centrality of love to virtue. We can then see that respe…Read more
  • Analysis in the critique of pure reason
    Kantian Review 12 (1): 61-89. 2007.
    The paper argues that existing interpretations of Kant's Critique of Pure Reason as an "analysis of experience" (e.g., those of Kitcher and Strawson) fail because they do not properly appreciate the method of the work. The author argues that the Critique provides an analysis of the faculty of reason, and counts as an analysis of experience only in a derivative sense.
  • I take up Kant's remarks about a " transcendental deduction" of the "concepts of space and time". I argue for the need to make a clearer assessment of the philosophical resources of the Aesthetic in order to account for this transcendental deduction. Special attention needs to be given to the fact that the central task of the Aesthetic is simply the "exposition" of these concepts. The Metaphysical Exposition reflects upon facts about our usage to reveal our commitment to the idea that these conc…Read more
  • Science and the Synthetic Method of the Critique of Pure Reason
    Review of Metaphysics 59 (3): 517-539. 2006.
    Kant maintains that his Critique of Pure Reason follows a “synthetic method” which he distinguishes from the analytic method of the Prolegomena by saying that the Critique “rests on no other science” and “takes nothing as given except reason itself”. The paper presents an account of the synthetic method of the Critique, showing how it is related to Kant’s conception of the Critique as the “science of an a priori judging reason”. Moreover, the author suggests, understanding its synthetic method…Read more
  • Kant advertises his Critique of Pure Reason as fulfilling reason's "most difficult" task: self-knowledge. As it is carried out in the Critique, this investigation is meant to be "scientific and fully illuminating"; for Kant, this means that it must follow a proper method. Commentators writing in English have tended to dismiss Kant's claim that the Critique is the scientific expression of reason's self-knowledge---either taking it to be sheer rhetoric, or worrying that it pollutes the Critique wi…Read more
  • Practical Reason and Respect for Persons
    Kantian Review 22 (1): 53-79. 2017.
    My project is to reconsider the Kantian conception of practical reason. Some Kantians think that practical reasoning must be more active than theoretical reasoning, on the putative grounds that such reasoning need not contend with what is there anyway, independently of its exercise. Behind that claim stands the thesis that practical reason is essentially efficacious. I accept the efficacy principle, but deny that it underwrites this inference about practical reason. My inquiry takes place ag…Read more
  • Review: Clewis, The Kantian Sublime and the Revelation of Freedom (review)
    British Journal for the History of Philosophy 18 (3): 529-532. 2010.
    Review of Robert Clewis, _The Kantian Sublime and the Revelation of Freedom_.
  • The Moral Source of the Kantian Sublime
    In Timothy Costelloe (ed.), The Sublime: From Antiquity to the Present (pp. 37-49), Cambridge University Press. 2012.
    A crucial feature of Kant's critical-period writing on the sublime is its grounding in moral psychology. Whereas in the pre-critical writings, the sublime is viewed as an inherently exhausting state of mind, in the critical-period writings it is presented as one that gains strength the more it is sustained. I account for this in terms of Kantian moral psychology, and explain that, for Kant, sound moral disposition is conceived as a sublime state of mind.
  • Kant's Argument for the Apperception Principle
    European Journal of Philosophy 19 (1): 59-84. 2011.
    Abstract: My aim is to reconstruct Kant's argument for the principle of the synthetic unity of apperception. I reconstruct Kant's argument in stages, first showing why thinking should be conceived as an activity of synthesis (as opposed to attention), and then showing why the unity or coherence of a subject's representations should depend upon an a priori synthesis. The guiding thread of my account is Kant's conception of enlightenment: as I suggest, the philosophy of mind advanced in the Deduct…Read more
  • Kant on Enlightened Moral Pedagogy
    Southern Journal of Philosophy 49 (3): 227-53. 2011.
    For Kant, the ideal of enlightenment is most fundamentally expressed as a self-developed soundness of judgment. But what does this mean when the judgment at issue is practical, i.e., concerns the good to be brought about through action? I argue that the moral context places special demands on the ideal of enlightenment. This is revealed through an interpretation of Kant’s prescription for moral pedagogy in the Critique of Practical Reason. The goal of the pedagogy is to cultivate the moral d…Read more
  • Varieties of Reflection in Kant's Logic
    British Journal for the History of Philosophy 23 (3): 478-501. 2015.
    For Kant, ‘reflection’ is a technical term with a range of senses. I focus here on the senses of reflection that come to light in Kant's account of logic, and then bring the results to bear on the distinction between ‘logical’ and ‘transcendental’ reflection that surfaces in the Amphiboly chapter of the Critique of Pure Reason. Although recent commentary has followed similar cues, I suggest that it labours under a blind spot, as it neglects Kant's distinction between ‘pure’ and ‘applied’ general…Read more
  • Kant on the Pleasures of Understanding
    In Alix Cohen (ed.), Kant on Emotion and Value, Palgrave-macmillan. pp. 126-145. 2014.
    Why did Kant write the Critique of Judgment, and why did he say that his analysis of the judgment of taste — his technical term for our enjoyment of beauty — is the most important part of it? Kant claims that his analysis of taste “reveals a property of our faculty of cognition that without this analysis would have remained unknown” (KU §8, 5:213). The clue lies in Kant’s view that while taste is an aesthetic, and non-cognitive, mode of judgment, it nevertheless involves the “free play” of cog…Read more
  • Reflection, Enlightenment, and the Significance of Spontaneity in Kant
    British Journal for the History of Philosophy 17 (5): 981-1010. 2009.
    Existing interpretations of Kant’s appeal to the spontaneity of the mind focus almost exclusively on the discussion of pure apperception in the Transcendental Deduction. The risk of such a strategy lies in the considerable degree of abstraction at which the argument of the Deduction is carried out: existing interpretations fail to reconnect adequately with any ground-level perspective on our cognitive lives. This paper works in the opposite direction. Drawing on Kant’s suggestion that the mos…Read more