CNPq - Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico



Nythamar Fernandes de Oliveira

Departamento de Filosofia

Pontifícia Universidade Católica

do Rio Grande do Sul

PUCRS - Brazil

Porto Alegre, 2003-2005

"Reasons, Reasonableness, and Rationality in Kant and Rawls"

ABSTRACT: The goal of this research project is to investigate how a Kantian-inspired cognitivist, metaethical account of pure practical reason may respond to the moral problem inherent in the Humean is/ought thesis and the belief/desire relation, as formulated by Michael Smith's platitude that what a person has reason to do is what she would desire to do if she were fully rational (1994, p. 150). I am particularly interested in a constructivist reading of Kant, so as to avoid the pitfalls of opposing rationalism to anti-realism and squaring moral realism with intuitionism. By resorting to the reformulations advocated by Rawls, Korsgaard, and O'Neill, giving reasons to act ("normative reasons") can be shown to entail precisely what Kant meant by stating that pure reason ought to be practical, as "motivating reasons" call for a self-determining of the will (autonomy). Although orthodox readings of Kant's categorical imperative seem to preclude any possible relation between a cognitivist rationalism and desires or pro-attitudes toward the intended action, a constructivist recasting of the procedural device of representation allows for such a relation, as reasonableness requires rationality to be universalizable just as the desires of moral, free persons are calibrated by fully-reasoned beliefs ("practicality requirement"). What has been termed the "reasonable" by Rawls roughly corresponds thus to the public, autonomous function of Kant's good will (Wille) as the "rational" may be said to play the role of a heteronomous "free will" (freier Willkür), i.e., as the faculty of desire realizes the normative, self-grounding work of reason (Vernunft). Hence, in order to assess the truth and falsehood of everyday claims about what people have reason to do, one must take into account her beliefs and desires. The project ultimately sets out to investigate what legitimizes one's ordinary practice of holding people responsible and its institutional implications in legal codifications.

Key Words: autonomy, belief, cognitivist and noncognitivist models in ethics, desire, moral realism and antirealism, motivation, normativity, rationality, reasons

Research background

Over the past decade, I have been committed to studying and conducting research on moral reasoning in both cognitivist and noncognitivist models of ethics and political philosophy. My PhD studies led me to the writing of a thesis on Foucault's reading of Kant and Nietzsche, as two paradigmatic representatives of the cognitivist and noncognitivist strands, respectively, in 1994, and since then I have been studying different authors such as Hobbes, Hume, Locke, Kant, Hegel, Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, Foucault, Rawls, and Habermas. From 1995 through 1998, I conducted multi-disciplinary research in Rawls's and Habermas's critical appropriations of Kant's ethics, supported by the Brazilian National Research Council (CNPq). My post-doctoral research at the New School for Social Research was part of that project. Since 1999, my research projects have focussed on moral epistemology, public reason, and autonomy. My ongoing research project is on the conception of moral epistemology, anti-realism and autonomy in Kant and Rawls. I propose thus to contribute to the research in "Reasons and Rationality," with the present project on Kant's conception of practical reason and contemporary appropriations by authors such as Allison, Brink, Guyer, Hare, Hill, Herman, Höffe, Korsgaard, Nagel, O'Neill, Rawls, Schneewind, Wood, and others.

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RESUMO (Abstract in Portuguese)

O campo delimitado pela "epistemologia moral", seguindo Ernest Sosa e outros filósofos analíticos de língua inglesa, tem procurado dar conta do problema suscitado pelo confronto entre questões de ontologia e linguagem e as mais recentes elaborações de uma filosofia moral pós-metafísica, sobretudo a partir dos trabalhos de G.E. Moore, no início do século, e mais recentemente de R.M. Hare, D.O. Brink, D. Davidson e T. Nagel. Após mais de sete anos dedicados à pesquisa ético-política em torno das apropriações que John Rawls e Jürgen Habermas nos oferecem do legado kantiano, proponho-me a direcionar minha investigação para o campo da fundamentação ética do agir humano à luz das recentes contribuições da filosofia analítica da linguagem para a teoria moral. Estou particularmente interessado nas apropriações do modelo da autonomia por autores que compartilham de um anti-realismo moral em contraposição ao realismo tradicionalmente associado à filosofia analítica da linguagem. Partindo de minhas investigações sobre a teoria do significado e a teoria da justiça --resultados traduzidos pela redação do Tractatus ethico-politicus em 1999 e do Tractatus practico-theoreticus (em via de conclusão, 2003)--pretendo reexaminar a questão específica da normatividade (razoabilidade normativa) subjacente à autonomia política (racionalidade motivacional), aprofundando e dando continuidade à minha pesquisa sobre os modelos de teoria da justiça desenvolvidos por Rawls e Habermas à luz de suas respectivas apropriações críticas da filosofia ético-política de Kant, enfocando particularmente os problemas do realismo vs. anti-realismo, intuicionismo vs. construtivismo, externalismo vs. internalismo, em uma abordagem que efetivamente responda aos desafios de uma concepção pós-metafísica de argumentação moral (moral reasoning). Assim como a lógica se apresenta como uma ciência formal do raciocínio correto (correct reasoning), a argumentação moral demanda um raciocínio moral defensável, razoável, de forma que a relação entre inferência lógico-epistêmica (epistemologia moral, lógica modal e lógica deôntica) e filosofia prática seja acentuada na abordagem do problema theoria-praxis. O problema clássico de relacionar o que é matematizável (inferência e validade estabelecidas pela lógica) com o que não pode ser reduzido à matemática, notavelmente nos domínios das ciências humanas e ciências sociais, leva-nos a re-situar a ética e a moral enquanto teorias normativas do comportamento humano (respectivamente, enquanto meta-ética e ética normativa) em sua problemática relação entre ação, linguagem e pensamento, mundo social e subjetividade, realidade e representação, linguagem natural e linguagem formal. Trata-se, portanto, de aprofundar os conceitos de autonomia e anti-realismo já estudados em Rawls, ao confrontá-los com conceitos tais como imputabilidade, universalizabilidade, prescritivismo, lógica deôntica, dilemas morais, internalismo e externalismo, coerentismo e lógica modal, elaborados numa epistemologia moral. Ao enfocar o problema específico da autonomia e do anti-realismo na epistemologia moral pós-kantiana pretendo revisitar, deste modo, uma teoria da ação que faça jus às mais importantes contribuições lingüístico-analíticas e fenomenológico- hermenêuticas de autores que tematizaram esse problema, sobretudo após as diferentes recepções do debate Rawls-Habermas.

Seguindo uma concepção anti-realista de inspiração kantiana em torno da reformulação pós-metafísica da normatividade e da autonomia, em particular na concepção de pessoa humana enquanto cidadãos morais individuados pela socialização, tem sido investigado (1) em que medida podemos reconciliar o construtivismo político de Rawls e o realismo mitigado de Habermas sem incorrermos nas aporias do atual debate entre universalistas (liberais) e comunitaristas (social-democratas), mostrando que (2) tanto o liberalismo político quanto o socialismo liberal defendem um igualitarismo razoável que logra articular, de um lado, liberdade e igualdade e, de outro lado, igualdade e desigualdade, (3) como podemos dar conta do problema da verdade levantado pela crítica de Rawls a Habermas sem necessariamente voltarmos ao objetivismo do realismo científico ou a uma epistemologia naturalizada e, finalmente, (4) como podemos corroborar o procedimentalismo kantiano sem incorrermos num conseqüencialismo utilitarista (intuicionismo moral) ou numa versão conservadora de reformismo político (realismo político conservador).

O estado atual das pesquisas sobre a autonomia moral e política divide-se entre aqueles que defendem uma concepção utilitarista do realismo moral em Kant (autores de língua inglesa, sobretudo ligados aos trabalhos de Richard M. Hare e epígonos) e aqueles que seguem uma concepção procedimentalista ou construtivista do anti-realismo na filosofia moral de Kant (Rawls, Habermas, O'Neill, Pogge, Wood, Schneewind). A partir de críticas do primeiro ao segundo grupo de autores, notavelmente após a publicação do livro seminal de David O. Brink, Moral Realism and the Foundations of Ethics (Cambridge University Press, 1989), vários estudos têm procurado resgatar um modelo cognitivista em ética e filosofia política, de forma a evitar os dilemas e aporias decorrentes da mera redução do realismo ao intuicionismo ou da rotulação de falácia naturalista às abordagens que operam um retorno pós-kantiano a Hume. O ceticismo e o não-cognitivismo em moral têm se mostrado, com efeito, bem mais fecundos para o problema da moral do que nos fazem crer os novos anti-fundacionalismos modernos e pós-modernos. A fim de direcionar minhas pesquisas nesta etapa, proponho revisitar os argumentos elaborados pelo polêmico estudo de Michael Smith, The Moral Problem (Oxford: Blackwell, 1994), de forma a investigar em que sentido o construtivismo rawlsiano merece a denominação de "uma deontologia com face humeana" ("deontology with a Humean face," Sandel 1982, p. 13-14).

Trata-se de um projeto de pesquisa individual, com interface com o Núcleo de Pesquisa Interdisciplinar em Teoria da Justiça e Cultura Política e o Projeto de Pesquisa Interdisciplinar "Cultura Política e Justiça Global" CUJUS.



Immanuel KANT

Moral Epistemology Seminar at PUCRS

Stanford Encyclopedia entry on Moral Epistemology

Rawls's normative conception of the person





"EPISTEMOLOGY," by Peter Klein (Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

"SKEPTICISM," by Peter Klein (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)



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