The Freedom to Design Nature: Kant's Strong Oughtâ†’Can Inference in 21st Century Perspective
Keywords:Practical Philosophy, Kant, Nature, Freedom, Oughtâ†’Can Inference
AbstractKant's attempts to formulate a conception of the harmony of nature and freedom have two logical presuppositions. The first presupposition is separation of ought and is, which provides a logical formulation of the separation of freedom and nature. Kant might well have settled on the view that the separation between nature and freedom cannot be bridged. Why did Kant attempt to overcome said separation? The second presupposition of Kant's project to bridge nature and freedom involves an oughtâ†’can inference, stating that moral obligation implies the possibility of its fulfillment. There are at least two ways this inference can be understood. There is a weak sense of the inference, stating that no one is obliged to do the impossible. There is also a very strong sense of the inference, stating that if a moral obligation is found to obtain, it must then be possible to fulfill it. Kant interprets the oughtâ†’can inference in this strong as well as in the weak sense. Nature, the law-governed totality of what exists, must be understood as able to provide a suitable field for moral realization. The isomorphism between the lawfulness of nature and that of moral freedom animate Kant's account of moral judgment, and will provide the main focus of the current investigation. Kant conceives of nature and freedom as twin kingdoms, thus providing a theoretical model validating this oughtâ†’can inference. The weaker sense of this oughtâ†’can inference does justice to moral judgment without requiring the awesome task of bridging nature and freedom. Why, then, should we maintain the strong oughtâ†’can inference in our post-Kantian situation? I suggest that Kant's insistence on the strong oughtâ†’can inference may yield an ethical approach to the ever more powerful ways in which human beings technologically transform nature, including human nature itself.
How to Cite
Kleist, E. E. (2006). The Freedom to Design Nature: Kant’s Strong Oughtâ†’Can Inference in 21st Century Perspective. Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy, 1(2), 213–221. Retrieved from http://cosmosandhistory.org/index.php/journal/article/view/13