Directed Studies: Philosophy
Please write a double-spaced, 4-6 page paper on one of the following topics. The paper is due in your instructor’s mailbox (in 108 Connecticut Hall) by 11am on Friday, April 7.
(1) What does the question “How are synthetic judgments a priori possible?” mean and why does Kant think that it is the central question for metaphysics? How does Kant answer this question? How does his answer put him in a position to respond to what Kant thinks is Hume’s skepticism about the unobserved? Is this response satisfactory?
(2) What are the main features of Kant’s transcendental idealism? In what significant respects, if any, does this form of idealism differ from Berkeley’s? In what significant respects, if any, is it similar? Kant thinks his version of idealism is superior to Berkeley’s. Is this correct? Explain.
(3) Suppose that a convention forbidding the destruction or mutilation of redwood trees in California becomes widely adopted. Compare what Hume and Kant would say about why it would be wrong to hack off a piece of a tree as a souvenir. Be sure to indicate how their analyses differ. Which account do you think is superior and why?
(4) Kant says, “[T]he moral worth of an action does not lie in the effect expected from it and so too does not lie in any principle of action that needs to borrow its motive from this expected effect” (Groundwork, p. 14). What does Kant mean by this claim and what are his reasons for it? How does Kant employ this claim in order to help derive the Categorical Imperative? Does the Categorical Imperative provide an adequate test of whether or not an action is morally permissible?