[lit-ideas] Re: Ye Modern Dialectic

Actually, I think it's RP.  

Ooooooh,

Erin
TO



Quoting Mike Geary <atlas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>:

> PR:
> > My reading of Kant, on the other hand, while open to criticism, is, of 
> > course, correct.
> 
> There you go.  A man after my own heart!
> 
> You go, guy.
> 
> Mike Geary
> still correctly me
> 
> 
> ----- Original Message ----- 
> From: "Robert Paul" <robert.paul@xxxxxxxx>
> To: <lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
> Sent: Thursday, September 08, 2005 5:02 PM
> Subject: [lit-ideas] Re: Ye Modern Dialectic
> 
> 
> > Walter wrote:
> >
> >> Robert does identify a problem in Kant's ethics, though I do not believe
> >> it is as severe as he renders it. (My reading of Kant is open to
> >> criticism. What an odd thing to say. A case of "one thought too
> >> many"?)
> >
> > My reading of Kant, on the other hand, while open to criticism, is, of 
> > course, correct.
> >
> > Briefly, here's where Walter and I may disagree. I can't extract from Kant
> 
> > any such fine-grained parsing of the descriptions of actions as he seems 
> > able to. A maxim, for all practical purposes either just is, or has as its
> 
> > essential component, the description of an action. Kant cannot see the 
> > difference between the lying-to-save case, and the lying-for-gain case: to
> 
> > him they're just lying. This seems clear from his insistence, which Walter
> 
> > notes, that lying is always 'categorically forbidden.' Yet lying-to-save 
> > is different from lying-for-gain, in pretty much the same way that running
> 
> > to catch a bus and running while taking part in a marathon are different.
> 
> > They are different actions; and if someone wants to say that au fond, they
> 
> > both reduce to 'just running,' he have a somewhat mechanical view of the 
> > world. Yet if Kant were to rely in such reductionism ('Well, when you get
> 
> > right down to it, they're no different, being in the one case both just 
> > lying and in the other both just running,' he would have shot himself in 
> > the foot, for he would be unable to say what Walter has pointed out he 
> > _does_ say, about the role of motives, intentions, purposes, and the like,
> 
> > in assessing actions, or proposed actions.
> >
> > As I'm puzzled, in the good sense, about how an action can just be done 
> > for (as I'll put it) no reason, except pure duty, I'll stop and try to 
> > think about this for awhile.
> >
> > Robert Paul
> > Reed College
> >
> >> I think we can safely claim that Kant was very much attuned to the
> >> importance of motive and purpose in assessing the moral worth of actions
> >> and maxims. This is why Kant typically provides these aspects of a maxim
> >> in his discussions of them. His "maxim schema" is more accurately
> >> represented by: "In circumstances C, I will do A for the purpose of P."
> >> The lying promise discussion is the best known of Kant's maxims. It is
> >> through such a structure that any action is defined as the kind of maxim
> >> it is - i.e., prudential, morally permissible, forbidden, etc.. As I see
> >> it, a maxim *expresses* the motive and purpose of the agent and the 
> >> action
> >> comes to be *defined* as the particular action it is through the
> >> relationship between motive, purpose and act expressed in the maxim.
> >>  I think that an action on its own is not open to moral assessment on
> >> Kant's terms. (It's legal status is a different matter.) This despite
> his
> >> claim near the  end of his life, that the act of lying is always
> >> categorically forbidden.  (I believe Kant at times errs in applying his
> >> theory to specific circumstances.) In his prime though, Kant recognized
> >> that motive and purpose are indispensible ingredients of moral worth.
> The
> >> examples in the Groundwork all ride on this recognition. In the case of
> >> duties of wide latitude, judgment is required and, yes, Kant could have
> >> said more about the kind of judgment that interested Aristotle. I think 
> >> he
> >> simply had other fish to fry.
> >>
> >> We have good grounds for attributing to Kant
> >> a perspicuous recognition of the differences involved in performing the
> >> act of C: giving to charity (acting benevolently):
> >> 1. Cing from the motive of augmenting (or in W's case, restoring) one's
> >> reputation
> >> 2. Cing because one wants to help others in need and this from a love of
> >> mankind
> >> 3. Cing from the motive in 2 where C is morally permissible (promotes
> the
> >> dignity, moral worth, of agent and recipient and is thus 
> >> universalizable.)
> >> 4. Cing in order to soothe one's conscience (i.e., I murder Paul Stone 
> >> and
> >> then make a huge donation to the Evangelical Society for the Elimination
> >> of Terror in the World.)
> >>
> >> I hope most of this is right.
> >>
> >> Cheers, Walter
> >>
> >> On Wed, 7 Sep 2005, Robert Paul wrote:
> >>
> >>
> >>>Walter is right: this is a poorly defined (or expressed) maxim: but such
> >>>vagueness and generality in the formulation of maxims never seems to
> >>>have given Kant much pause. He seems not to have realized that the
> >>>specificity of maxims can change the outcome of their tests against the
> >>>Procrustean illusion of the CI: given the maxim schema 'do x,' the
> >>>generality or specificity of the substitution instances of x obviously
> >>>matter. But Kant never distinguishes between the maxim 'tell a lie,' and
> >>>the maxim 'tell a lie in order to save the life of an innocent person,'
> >>>except to deny that the latter is a different action from the former, as
> >>>if 'lying' were all one thing and instances of it all the same 'action.'
> >>>What one might propose to do is seldom fine-grained enough in Kant's own
> >>>account to allow for such distinctions. It as if he were blind to the
> >>>distinction between 'feed a child' and 'feed a starving child.'
> >>>
> >>>Robert Paul
> >>>The Reed Institute
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-- 
Erin
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