Kant on Understanding Organisms as Natural Purposes

Hannah Ginsborg

in Kant and the Sciences

Published in print March 2001 | ISBN: 9780195133059
Published online February 2006 | e-ISBN: 9780199786169 | DOI:
 Kant on Understanding Organisms as Natural Purposes

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This paper explains why Kant thinks that organisms must be regarded as purposes, and how this can be done while respecting their status as natural products rather than artifacts. Kant’s premise that organisms are mechanically inexplicable is interpreted as the claim that biological regularities are irreducible to regularities in the behavior of matter as such (attraction and repulsion). His conclusion that they are purposive is interpreted as the claim that they must be regarded in normative terms. This conclusion is defended on the grounds that biological enquiry cannot, even today, avoid regarding living things as subject to normative standards.

Keywords: Kant; organisms; purposes; normativity; attraction; repulsion; natural products; artifacts

Chapter.  15567 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Science

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