Sunday, September 24, 2006

Chandler replies to Monokroussos

Monokroussos: "A side point about HC's comment about Kant: it's false, taken unconditionally. While Kant denies the existence of good arguments from the realm of pure reason (leaving aside the antinomies, which are undermined by their counter-antinomies), he does think taking the moral stance transcendentally implies the existence of God."

Chandler: How can Reppert's 'taking the moral stance' imply that there really is a God? At best, it might imply that Reppert believes that there is a God.
As I understand it, Kant holds that 'taking the moral stance' requires BELIEF in God, faith that there is a God (or at least that God is possible), but it does not offer us (or Reppert) any proof that there is a God, or even (I think) any evidence that there is one.


Blue Devil Knight said...

This is a good point. Similarly, since (under Kant's view) we are structured so that we can't help but conceive of the world using the categories and intuition, that doesn't imply that space, time, causality, and the like really exist in the noumenal world.

Anonymous said...

BDK: I didn't claim that morality was part of the empirical realm, so while I agree with your Kant exegesis, I don't see its relevance to my point. For Kant, one can choose to avoid the moral stance (there's no empirical argument on its behalf), but once one accepts it, then they're logically committed to the existence of God. (Assuming Kant's argument works, of course.)

Now time for Monokroussos to reply to Chandler's response to Monokroussos's reply to Chandler. First, two qualifications: I won't pretend to be a Kant scholar, and I don't claim his argument succeeds. (Nor do I claim that it doesn't.)

Here in a nutshell is how I understand his argument, or at least how I've seen it standardly interpreted.

1. We ought to seek moral perfection.
2. Ought implies can.
3. Therefore, we can achieve moral perfection.
4. But this is possible only if there is a God (or something near enough).

Note: it's not that it's possible only if we believe there's a God; God is in fact necessary for the achievement of moral perfection, in Kant's view. Is it a "proof" of the existence of God? That depends. Does one accept the moral stance? If so, then one is logically committed to the existence of God (assuming one also accepts the principle that "ought implies can"). If not, or if one rejects or remains agnostic toward the imperative that we seek moral perfection, then no.

A fuller discussion is available here, on the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy website, but it seems fundamentally in line with my interpretation. (Of course we might all be wrong when it comes to Kant!)