Jeremy Schwartz

Works in Progress

General Practical Logic in Kant's Groundwork

In the preface to the Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals, Kant proposes a fascinating proportion. A metaphysics of morals is to general practical philosophy as transcendental philosophy is to general logic. Using the suggested analogy to theoretical reason as my guide, I argue that general practical philosophy contrasts to a metaphysics of morals because its rules are 1) formally empty and 2) constitutively general. It follows that a metaphysics of moral is neither. Such a conclusion conflicts with a modern trend in Kant scholarship that attempts to analytically derive substantive (i.e. formally non-empty) practical conclusions from general features about our agency.

Analyticity in Kant's Ethics

In the Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, Kant claims that hypothetical imperatives are analytic while categorical imperatives are synthetic. This remark has proved puzzling since imperatives do not have the proper form to be either analytic or synthetic. Previous attempts to understand Kantís claim have attempted to translate imperatives into propositions with the correct form. In the first part of this paper, I criticize these previous attempts. Afterwards, I propose my own account according to which an imperative is analytic if its validity can be discerned from rules constitutive of practical reasoning, and it is synthetic otherwise. I defend this interpretation by finding the very same characterization at work in the theoretical sphere. Revisions are made both to our understanding of the analytic/synthetic distinction as well as our understanding of imperatives.


Piety as a Virtue (with David Hayes, ECLA of Bard)

When, in the Protagoras, Socrates defends the thesis that the virtues must be unified, he assumes that there are 5 basic virtues in need of such a unification: courage, moderation, wisdom, justice and piety (Protagoras, 330b ff).  To modern audiences, this last virtue may come as something of a surprise. While courage, moderation, wisdom, and justice are virtues that still command philosophic attention, piety has dropped off the list. In this paper, we will argue that piety should be reinstated in the list of basic virtues. Indeed, once a proper picture of piety comes into view, none of the reasons given for its neglect or derogation will turn out to be valid: piety does not depend upon the existence of divine beings; piety is not a special case of justice; and piety does not threaten our autonomy. The reinstatement of piety comprises three claims. The first claim is that sphere of concern of piety is the sources of our being and not just the gods. . Second, we will argue that these sources of our being have conferred a benefit upon us and are therefore deserving of our gratitude. Third, we will defend the claim that piety is a basic virtue. While every virtue has a sphere of concern and an appropriate response, only the possession of some basic virtues is necessary for being an overall virtuous person.

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