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Constructions of Reason: Explorations of Kant's Practical Philosophy Paperback – January 26, 1990

ISBN-13: 978-0521388160 ISBN-10: 0521388163

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Editorial Reviews


"This collection of essays contains some of the most significant work on Kant's practical philosophy to have appeared in recent years. The essays are often speculative and sometimes sketchy (as the title indicates, they are explorations), but they are suggestive in helpful and constructive ways, and they contain many insightful discussions and developments of Kant's approach." Ethics

"Constructions of Reason is rewarding reading." Review of Metaphysics

Book Description

A reconsideration of Kant's conceptions of philosophical method, reason, freedom, autonomy and action, progresses to an interpretation of the Categorical Imperative and a comparative analysis of Kant and "Kantian" ethics.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (January 26, 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521388163
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521388160
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #578,332 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Werner Ulrich on July 6, 2011
Format: Paperback
Kant's revolutionary view of reason, according to his well-known "Copernican" hypothesis, is that reason must construct the world after a plan of its own. More than that, it also must construct itself: to provide itself with the legitimacy and authority that no external force can give it, reason has no choice but to define its own principles and to constitute its own critical tribunal, as a way to make sure it lives up to these principles. To these two well-known challenges of Kant's undertaking of a "Critique of Reason," Onora O'Neill adds a third, less well-known challenge: because reason, according to its own principles, must not rely on any external authority, it needs to construct not only its own cognitive order (or constitution) but also some just political order, a basic social constitution that allows the free use of reason by human inquirers and agents. The two problems of constructing cognitive and political order are interdependent; neither can be solved without the other. As O'Neill (p. 16) explains, Kant "sees the problems of cognitive and political order as arising in one and the same context. In either case we have a plurality of agents or voices (perhaps potential agents or voices) and no transcendent or preestablished authority. Authority has in either case to be constructed."

To put it differently, in Kant's thinking reason and justice originate in the same, ultimately political source (p. 16). Neither reason nor justice is given naturally to mankind; both require for their development and preservation constructive acts of interpersonal cooperation and (self-) legislation. Both also respond to the existential need of human agents to coordinate their views and interests in ways that promote collaboration and peace rather than disorder and discordance.
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