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The Normativity of NatureEssays on Kant's Critique of Judgement$
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Hannah Ginsborg

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199547975

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199547975.001.0001

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Kant on Understanding Organisms as Natural Purposes

Kant on Understanding Organisms as Natural Purposes

(p.255) Essay 11 Kant on Understanding Organisms as Natural Purposes
The Normativity of Nature

Hannah Ginsborg

Oxford University Press

This essay explains why Kant thinks we have to regard organisms as purposes, and how we can do this while respecting their status as natural products, rather than as artefacts. Kant’s premise that organisms are mechanically inexplicable is interpreted as the claim that biological regularities are irreducible to regularities in the behaviour of matter as such (resulting from the forces of attraction and repulsion), and 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:   laws of matter, mechanical explanation, natural purpose, normativity, organism, regularity

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