Project (2018)

Kant on the Unity of Self-Consciousness in the Unity of Perception; Kant’s Theory of Moral Agency

I will be working on two projects which are not so much related to each other as to my previous work. In Kant’s Thinker, I offered a reading of Kant’s argument for his central, but puzzling, claim that the unity of the cognitive subject is a necessary and sufficient condition for the possibility of cognition of objects. At the time, I was able to make a much stronger case for the necessity and sufficiency of the unity of self-consciousness in conceptual cognition of objects. The new project focuses on perception. Why does Kant think that the unity of self-consciousness is a necessary and sufficient condition for the perception of a multiplicity of properties or objects?

Kant is often read as arguing that the freedom required for moral action is nothing more controversial than the freedom required for thought (e.g., Allison’s Kant’s Theory of Freedom).  In several papers (“A Kantian Argument for the Formula of Humanity,” Kant- Studien, 2017; “Freedom in Thought and Action,” forthcoming in the Proceedings of the 12th Kant Congress), I’ve argued that Kant’s position on this issue is more complex. Moral freedom is special, because it involves a capacity to act on the moral law (to act from duty) that has no analog in theoretical reasoning; yet Kant maintains that humans cognize that they have that capacity in exactly the same way that they cognize that they think. In the new project, I intend to argue that we can make sense of Kant’s otherwise perplexing claims about morality and moral agency by carefully attending to both the similarities and the differences he saw between moral deliberating (thinking) and ordinary thinking.