Kant's Monstrous Claim: Schopenhauer on the Intuitive Intellect and the Cognition of Causes (forthcoming in The Schopenhauerian Mind, Routledge)
This paper concerns a neglected aspect of Schopenhauer’s mature thought and how it is influenced by Kant’s critical philosophy, namely, his philosophy of mind and the distinction between the faculties of sensibility, the understanding, and reason. In this context we find what Schopenhauer claims to be Kant’s “monstrous” and “major and fundamental mistake,” namely, “the failure to distinguish between abstract, discursive cognition, and intuitive cognition” (WWR 503). Shopenhauer argues that the intellect and intuition turn out to be much more closely intertwined than Kant allowed – in fact, the “intuition is intellectual” (e.g., FR 54, 75; VC 213; WWR 471) and, conversely, “the intellect is intuitive” (e.g., FR 76; WWR 483). The main goal of the paper is to reconstruct Schopenhauer’s account of the tight relation between the cognitive faculties, with an eye to how it constitutes a departure from Kantian orthodoxy. A clear and substantive disagreement between Schopenhauer and Kant emerges from this analysis: contra Kant, Schopenhauer holds that the understanding’s cognition of causation is indiscriminate, that is, blind and unsystematic, and so non-conceptual.
Kant on Why We Can't Know Things in Themselves (with Andrew Chignell, in The Palgrave Kant Handbook, 2017)
An opinionated overview of the literature regarding Kant's doctrine of noumenal ignorance, including a presentation of the authors' own views on the matter. I argue that, for Kant, we cannot have substantive, positive cognition of things in themselves because we cannot form determinate -- and hence truth-evaluable -- judgments about them.
Papers under Review
[Paper on Faculty Monism in 18th century Leibnizian philosophy]
Kant often criticizes Leibniz for collapsing two cognitive faculties -- sensibility and the understanding -- into a single one. In the picture Kant attributes to Leibniz, we can sense things via merely thinking about them. Is this account coherent, and was this picture really prevalent in 18th century Leibnizian philosophy? In this paper, I argue for an affirmative answer to both questions. Sensation, for the Leibnizians, is a kind of thinking. In fact, I argue, faculty monism was an influential research project in the 18th century Leibnizian tradition, with its own distinctive theoretical commitments, predictions, and explanatory challenges.
[Paper on Kant's theory of representation, consciousness, and cognition]
I provide an account of an important sense of representation, consciousness, and cognition in Kant's lectures on logic and his critical works. I argue that neither of these notions involves transparency, i.e., first-personal awareness at the agential level. Instead, I outline a picture according to which the presence and content of cognitions is opaque to cognitive subjects.
[Paper on Kant's notion of an intuition]
In this paper, I argue that, for Kant, intuitions are singular in the sense that they are thoroughgoingly determined representations of their objects. That is, for any representable feature F of the object of cognition o, an intuition of o must represent F to the subject. In this sense, intuitions are maximally fine-grained: they distinguishing their objects from any other. Moreover, this account of the content of intuitions elucidates how the historical pedigree of Kant’s theory of intuitions is squarely in the Leibnizian tradition.
[Paper on the relation between stereotypes and the ontology of race]
An influential variety of social constructionism about race – call it representational constructionism – holds that the existence and nature of each racial group is grounded in the stereotypes about the racial group which are widely available within a society. In this paper, I present a novel objection against representational constructionism: (1) there is no guarantee that there are society-wide stereotypes about a racial group R which could provide the ground for R’s existence; and, in fact, (2) there is reason to doubt that such stereotypes exist for various important features (phenotypical appearances, characteristic behaviors, etc.), since members of different significant milieux reliably and systematically vary in the stereotypes they come to form. Overall, I emphasize that disagreements about individual's racial membership are much more entrenched and common than philosophers of race have previously appreciated.
Work in Progress
(Please email for an up-to-date copy)
[Paper on deference to experts about racial classifications]
Do ordinary subjects defer to experts when it comes to deciding how to classify individuals into racial groups? Or do they staunchly retain their own classificatory judgments? In this series of three studies, we aim to answer these questions. Study one tests whether classificatory judgments (and subject confidence thereof) are swayed by expert opinion, as opposed to the opinion of peers. Study two measures whether subjects more readily and confidently defer to different kinds of experts, including biomedical and sociohistorical experts. In particular, we're hoping to probe whether subjects who essentialize race are more wont to defer to biomedical experts. Finally, study three tests the way in which subjects resolve disagreements between experts as a way of probing whether they trust a kind of expert more than others. The overall hope is to elucidate whether familiar models of epistemological expertise from the natural kinds literature are applicable in the case of race.
Kant on the Status of Rationalist Metaphysical Principles
I reconstruct Kant’s critique of Leibniz – and, in particular, his endorsement of the Principle of the Identity of Indiscernibles (PII) and other metaphysical principles like it – in the so-called “Amphiboly” chapter of the Critique of Pure Reason. The status of these rationalist principles within Kant’s philosophy has stumped commentators. Some passages suggest that Kant endorses a restricted version of the PII; others that he endorses a counterfactual version of it. I solve this interpretive impasse by appealing to Kant’s theory of particular laws, namely, empirical laws whose necessity does not follow from the fundamental laws of nature. Although human beings cannot help but to represent things as following particular laws, we cannot have insight into why they hold. I argue that, though he strictly speaking rejects the PII and other metaphysical principles, Kant holds that they are particular laws of nature.
The Recognition-First Account of Race
Membership in a racial group is often precarious. Someone can be embraced as a member by some people and in some contexts yet be excluded by others or in other contexts. Instead of shying away from this fact, as do most philosophical accounts of race, I build a metaphysics of race around it. I argue that racial membership depends on relations of mutual recognition between individuals. Recognition is mutual, joint, and socially valuable. It doesn't require categorization or explicit awareness. More tentatively, I suggest recognition need not even require shared experiences. For two individuals to recognize each other is for both to hold that they are subject to the same social and moral values and disvalues, as concerns their distinctive, shared lot in life.