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Anyone a Kant fan?

 
 
Jamers1
 
Reply Mon 9 Feb, 2004 07:43 pm
Is there anyone who is especially familiar with Immanuel Kant's beliefs? If so let me know-please!
 
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Mon 9 Feb, 2004 07:51 pm
What do you want to know?
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gustavratzenhofer
 
  1  
Reply Mon 9 Feb, 2004 08:17 pm
oops, sorry, I misread the subject.
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kirsten
 
  1  
Reply Mon 9 Feb, 2004 08:24 pm
You are a very naughty man Gus !:wink:
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cavfancier
 
  1  
Reply Tue 10 Feb, 2004 04:41 am
I think I'm a fan, but Kant remember.
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BoGoWo
 
  1  
Reply Tue 10 Feb, 2004 09:13 am
[ahem!]
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Jamers1
 
  1  
Reply Tue 10 Feb, 2004 09:40 pm
His views regarding.....
joefromchicago wrote:
What do you want to know?


Hey there. Well, I would like to know what his views were regarding the definition of virtue and the holy will. Any ideas?
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joefromchicago
 
  3  
Reply Wed 11 Feb, 2004 09:27 am
Re: His views regarding.....
Jamers1 wrote:
Well, I would like to know what his views were regarding the definition of virtue and the holy will. Any ideas?

Kant has a good discussion of "virtue" in his "Metaphysics of Morals." In short, a virtuous act is one that is free of compulsion, done for the sake of doing what one should rather than doing what one must.

Kant discusses the "holy will" in his "Grounding of a Metaphysics of Morals" (the Grundlegung). Holy will is a will that conforms perfectly to reason, such that one does what one should and what one must, since the two are identical. Kant contrasts that with "human will," which is influenced by factors other than reason. Obviously, Kant viewed "holy will" as an unattainable ideal, conceivable only as the will that God alone possesses.

Excellent web resources for Kant can be found collected at Kant on the Web, and these lecture materials from G.J. Mattey provide a good summary of Kant's philosophy.
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Wed 11 Feb, 2004 10:05 am
Another website giving some basic ideas on "Grundlegung" is this one:
Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals

Another bundle Kant-related links than the already mentioned "Kant on the Web" are to be found here:
Immanuel Kant: Links
0 Replies
 
roger
 
  1  
Reply Wed 11 Feb, 2004 10:11 am
I became sufficiently bogged down in his "Critique of Pure Reason" that I ordered Ewing's "Short Commentary" from The University of Chicago bookstore (excellent source, by the way). Wasn't a big help.
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bred
 
  1  
Reply Sun 30 Jan, 2005 12:08 pm
Can someone please list some famous people that were a fan of Kant, like Karl Marx was? Cheers.
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Francis
 
  1  
Reply Sun 30 Jan, 2005 12:26 pm
Kant à moi, I'm a fan.

the first - George Hegel
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bred
 
  1  
Reply Sun 30 Jan, 2005 12:35 pm
Thanks. I have been writing an essay, what do you think?

"Prisons are no good, they are free hostels that accommodate every need of their inmates. This includes gaining a University degree."

How would a utilitarian and Kantian view this?

This quote seems intrinsically biased against criminals, and the analogy created between prisons and almost some sort of paradise is rather far-fetched. However, there may be some truth in the statement, maybe criminals are not being treated harshly enough, and deserve to have more human rights deprived from them to show others that prison is not an easy option.

A utilitarian would not share the viewpoint found in the quote . Utilitarianism is structured around the belief that actions should be taken in the effort of resulting in the least possible human suffering for the greatest number - "the greatest good for the greatest number." It was a "Eureka" moment for Jeremy Bentham - the founder of utilitarianism - when this thought came to mind. This is now commonly known as the Greatest Happiness Principle, or the Principle of Utility. To ease confusion over utilitarian ideals over specific issues Bentham devised a methodology to determine which actions were best taken. This is known as the hedonic, or felicific, calculus. The calculus takes into account the intensity, duration, certainty or uncertainty, propinquity or remoteness, fecundity, purity, and extent of actions so it can be determined which is right under the Principle of Utility. Using the hedonic calculus a utilitarian would probably see that the duration of suffering in a prison with poor conditions was unnecessary pain. Even if the criminal had scarred the lives of many people the number of people scarred would have to be great as their pain would unlikely be comparable with that of a criminal suffering in a prison with poor conditions or receiving severe treatment from prison staff. Some may argue that criminals should not be treated in the same way as others with the hedonic calculus as they are not law abiding. However, most would argue that prisoners should be treated with fundamental human rights like all other human beings.

Utilitarianism can be divided into two sub-categories: Rule Utilitarianism, and Act Utilitarianism. Rule Utilitarianism is a methodology whereby the best rule of conduct is chosen to be followed - a particular rule is followed. As opposed to Rule Utilitarianism, Act Utilitarianism looks at the specific act and its consequences to find the ideal Utilitarian stance. Using the system of Rule Utilitarianism one would see past the possibilities of making prison even worse for the innocent people that live there and instead be more inclined to support the viewpoint expressed in the quote. Act Utilitarianism on the other hand, would be more workable into society as one examines each case in hand rather than following a rule, which could be greatly un-suited. Bentham's theory was Act-Utilitarian:

"According to act-utilitarianism, it is the value of the consequences of the particular act that counts when determining whether the act is right." - Jeremy Bentham

There are problems with both theories, however. Act Utilitarianism seems to be capable of justifying any crime whereas Rule Utilitarianism does not recognise the complexity of the world and that the complexity is too great for creating rules for everything.

John Stuart Mill, a disciple of Jeremy Bentham and one of the most famous utilitarian thinkers, was a strong supporter of capital punishment and would have been more prone to share the stance held on prisons in the quote. It was JS Mill that came up with the idea of "higher" and "lower" pleasures to more easily calculate a utilitarian viewpoint - although the viability of the hedonic calculus is still very arguable.

Kantian ethics, although very aware of each individual's rights to be treated equally and not worse than any other, are more supportive of the viewpoint expressed in the quote. Although Kant believed that humans should not be treated "as a means to an end" he did not recognise criminals as holders of this right.

Like the Principle of Utility in utilitarian ethics, The Categorical Imperative is the keystone of Kantian ethics. The Categorical Imperitive has three versions, the most important being as follows:

"I ought never to act except in such a way that I can also will that my maxim should become a universal law." - Immanuel Kant

This ideology of universal laws is reminiscent of Rule Utilitarianism. Also, like with the utilitarian hedonic calculus, Kant spoke of a method of pinpointing the laws which have universal moral worth - laws that should be obeyed by all people. With this in mind the Categorical Imperitive has also become known as the "imperitive of morality."

Kantian ethics corrected the utilitarian belief that the punishment of innocent people can be justified by benefit for the majority. In brief, morality of an action derives from intrinsic rightness of the act rather than the resulting benefit or pain for the greatest number. Kantian beliefs are typified by the "Golden Rule of Christian ethics:"
"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

Kant said that "only the law of retribution can determine exactly the kind and degree of punishment." In simple terms this is the "eye for an eye" philosophy, that a deserved punishment is determined by the crime committed. It is with this maxim that Kant would certainly be a supporter of more harsh conditions in prison. He would have said that a criminal is put in prison to be punished, and that to be imprisoned the crime committed must be severe enough to justify no access to luxuries.

The author of the Communist Manifesto, Karl Marx, was very admiring of Kant. Hegel was the first "fan" of Kant and the works of he and of Feuerbach were very influential in those of Karl Marx. Marx said of Kant:

"there is only one theory of punishment which is compatible with human dignity and that is the theory of kant" - Karl Marx

Sonia Gandhi also said that Kant never deviated from his commitment to serve people with exceptional devotion. However, Mohatma Gandhi was more critical and he is infamous for saying "an eye for eye would make the whole world blind."

In conclusion, although there was no maxim for utilitarian or Kantian policy on this issue, one can imagine the likely viewpoints from each stance. The utilitarian would generally not be supportive of harsher prison conditions as it would involve "needless suffering" - although JS Mill would be an exception, who would probably disregard the pain of criminals. On the other hand, Kantian ethics would generally be supportive of "less freedom in prisons" as the maxim of "an eye for an eye" would involve criminals suffering like their victims. Of course, not all Kantian supporters would feel like this as some may not be able to see criminals as morally depraved but rather victims of society themselves. Some may still see punishment in prisons as treating people as a means to an end (ie. To make society safer or more productive). However, the Kantian would generally feel that as people are treated as rational beings they should be held accountable for their actions and should be punished accordingly. Personally, I think effort to make such a change in the prison system would be fruitless, with much more pressing issues at hand for the governments of the world.


It's to be handed in by tomorrow, or Tuesday at the latest, so time to edit it a bit. However, I also have a NAB tomorrow, which is a mandatory unit test of which passing is a necessity in order to continue on with the course and sit the final exam. I have my philosophy prelim in ten days. Sad
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  3  
Reply Mon 31 Jan, 2005 09:50 am
bred wrote:
Although Kant believed that humans should not be treated "as a means to an end" he did not recognise criminals as holders of this right.

What right? The right not to be treated as a means rather than an end? Not true. According to Kant, a criminal is punished because, in a fundamental sense, the criminal chooses to be punished when he chooses to act contary to the laws. The law, therefore, does not treat criminals as a means to something else (e.g. the betterment of society, deterring would-be criminals, etc.). Utilitarians, on the other hand, definitely see punishment as a means rather than an end.

bred wrote:
Kantian ethics corrected the utilitarian belief that the punishment of innocent people can be justified by benefit for the majority. In brief, morality of an action derives from intrinsic rightness of the act rather than the resulting benefit or pain for the greatest number.

It's somewhat confusing to state that Kantian ethics corrected any utilitarian beliefs, since Kant never really showed any interest in refuting utilitarianism. Bentham wrote his "Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation" in 1789, a year after the Second Critique appeared, but I've never seen any evidence to suggest that Kant was even aware of Bentham's work.

bred wrote:
Kant said that "only the law of retribution can determine exactly the kind and degree of punishment." In simple terms this is the "eye for an eye" philosophy, that a deserved punishment is determined by the crime committed. It is with this maxim that Kant would certainly be a supporter of more harsh conditions in prison. He would have said that a criminal is put in prison to be punished, and that to be imprisoned the crime committed must be severe enough to justify no access to luxuries.

You might want to take a quick look at some sites on the web to get a better sense of Kant's view on punishment:
Kant on Capital Punishment
Kant on Punishment

bred wrote:
The author of the Communist Manifesto, Karl Marx, was very admiring of Kant. Hegel was the first "fan" of Kant and the works of he and of Feuerbach were very influential in those of Karl Marx.

Hegel was 18 when the "Critique of Practical Reason" was published, so I don't know if he was doing much philosophizing at the time. If he was the first "fan" of Kant he certainly was a precocious lad. In any event, he was not the most notable of Kant's early exponents. Philosophers such as Fichte and Schelling were important in popularizing and expanding upon Kant. But every philosopher of morality must, in some way, come to grips with Kant (even if, like Nietzsche, they ultimately reject Kantian ethics), so in that sense every philosopher has been influenced by Kant.

bred wrote:
On the other hand, Kantian ethics would generally be supportive of "less freedom in prisons" as the maxim of "an eye for an eye" would involve criminals suffering like their victims.

If you think that Kant based his theory of punishment on purely retributive Lex Talionis ("an eye for an eye") grounds, then you've clearly misunderstood Kant.
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Francis
 
  1  
Reply Mon 31 Jan, 2005 10:05 am
As I clearly could not explain this this way, I globaly agree with Joe in what Bred misunderstood Kant's views.
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hyper426
 
  1  
Reply Mon 31 Jan, 2005 06:44 pm
I like Kant's Categorical Imperative much better than utilitarianism. Plus, if everyone acts morally (Golden Rule similarity), the greatest good for the greatest number should, in theory, be achieved. This provides the greatest goods, it just specifies how to get there.

Francis, what is your signiture in english?
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bred
 
  1  
Reply Tue 1 Feb, 2005 11:14 am
joefromchicago wrote:
bred wrote:
Kantian ethics corrected the utilitarian belief that the punishment of innocent people can be justified by benefit for the majority. In brief, morality of an action derives from intrinsic rightness of the act rather than the resulting benefit or pain for the greatest number.

joefromchicago wrote:
It's somewhat confusing to state that Kantian ethics corrected any utilitarian beliefs, since Kant never really showed any interest in refuting utilitarianism. Bentham wrote his "Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation" in 1789, a year after the Second Critique appeared, but I've never seen any evidence to suggest that Kant was even aware of Bentham's work.


I didn't mean to say that Kant intentionally corrected the utilitarian belief, rather that the Kantian ethics did so regardless of intentions.

bred wrote:
Kant said that "only the law of retribution can determine exactly the kind and degree of punishment." In simple terms this is the "eye for an eye" philosophy, that a deserved punishment is determined by the crime committed. It is with this maxim that Kant would certainly be a supporter of more harsh conditions in prison. He would have said that a criminal is put in prison to be punished, and that to be imprisoned the crime committed must be severe enough to justify no access to luxuries.

joefromchicago wrote:
You might want to take a quick look at some sites on the web to get a better sense of Kant's view on punishment:
Kant on Capital Punishment
Kant on Punishment


I had previously read the article from your first link but thanks for the latter - I have not yet read any of "Science of Right."

bred wrote:
On the other hand, Kantian ethics would generally be supportive of "less freedom in prisons" as the maxim of "an eye for an eye" would involve criminals suffering like their victims.

joefromchicago wrote:
If you think that Kant based his theory of punishment on purely retributive Lex Talionis ("an eye for an eye") grounds, then you've clearly misunderstood Kant.


I was under the impression Kant believed that the just punishment was that which was to the same extent as the crime, in general circumstances - Kant recognised special cases. Could you please be more specific in what I have misunderstood?

These are the comments my teacher at school made:

"Good opening statement but you need to say why punishment is a moral issue, what kinds of punishment are there in this society, why do we punish people? Define Punishment"

"No mention of consequentialism, hedonism, equity?"

"Cite book quote is taken from."

"18/25 C+ Good essay and structure. However, thought it missed analysis to your usual standard - although there were good quotes you didn't analyse them enough."
0 Replies
 
Francis
 
  1  
Reply Tue 1 Feb, 2005 11:29 am
hyper426 wrote:
Francis, what is your signiture in english?


I'm not sure about this translation but I think it is : Paradoxal thing, it's with intelligent people we do better "talking cock".

Quote:
TALKING COCK (v.)
a local Singaporean term meaning either
to talk nonsense or engage in idle banter.

- The Coxford Singlish Dictionary
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hyper426
 
  1  
Reply Tue 1 Feb, 2005 10:40 pm
thanks. its true, too.
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Tue 1 Feb, 2005 11:35 pm
bred wrote:
I was under the impression Kant believed that the just punishment was that which was to the same extent as the crime, in general circumstances - Kant recognised special cases. Could you please be more specific in what I have misunderstood?

Kant did indeed believe that punishment should be consistent with the crime, but that only explains how punishment should be meted out, not why a state has the right to punish criminals.
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