Acta Cogitata: An Undergraduate Journal in Philosophy


Immanuel Kant was an Enlightenment philosopher who strove to clarify the foundations of human knowledge and morality. Kant began his cosmopolitan efforts by establishing the metaphysical basis for all human cognition. His theories developed from an analysis of the writings of empiricist David Hume and classical metaphysical thought. Causality was a paradigmatic metaphysical concept that was assumed to be necessary and outside of the experiential world. Hume criticized the role of causality as understood by classical metaphysicians and argued that knowledge can only be gained from experience. His argument was based on the foregoing understanding of possible judgements and necessity, which limited the amplification of knowledge to synthetic judgements of experience. In response, Kant offered a new form of necessity that accounted for the metaphysical basis for the possibility of all experience. Kant’s understanding of human action in cognition informed his moral theory and the role of a priori concepts in moral action. Kant’s moral theory is based on the possibility of a moral action being simultaneously free from natural determinism and universally necessary. Following his dedication to the ideals of the Enlightenment, Kant bases the possibility of morality on universal moral laws which are accessible to all rational beings. This paper will evaluate the possibility of moral action based on Kant’s establishment of the necessity of metaphysical concepts in human knowledge and experience.

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