Second Nature and Reflection. Towards a Negative Naturalism

Second Nature and Reflection. Towards a Negative Naturalism

Conference Naturalisms in Ethics, Auckland, July 2011

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Titus Stahl

July 14, 2011
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  1. 1.

    Second Nature and Reection Second Nature and Reection Towards a

    Negative Naturalism Titus Stahl Institut für Philosophie der Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität, Frankfurt a. M. Naturalisms in Ethics July, 13-14, 2011 University of Auckland, New Zealand Titus Stahl Goethe-Universität Frankfurt
  2. 2.

    Second Nature and Reection What's the point of being an

    ethical naturalist? Titus Stahl Goethe-Universität Frankfurt
  3. 3.

    Second Nature and Reection Why be a naturalist? Advantages of

    naturalism: theoretical advantages Titus Stahl Goethe-Universität Frankfurt
  4. 4.

    Second Nature and Reection Why be a naturalist? Advantages of

    naturalism: theoretical advantages But also: captures our self-understanding as autonomous moral agents reference to objective moral facts makes criticism of socially shared norms possible ordinary perceptual capacities are sucient to recognize moral features Titus Stahl Goethe-Universität Frankfurt
  5. 5.

    Second Nature and Reection Conservatism worries about naturalism But there

    are also problematic aspects of naturalism in regard to its understanding of the activity of criticism: problematic account of moral disagreement tendency to support unwillingness to learn problematic account of moral progress Titus Stahl Goethe-Universität Frankfurt
  6. 6.

    Second Nature and Reection Second-nature naturalism Might McDowell's second-nature naturalism

    be able to solve these problems? Titus Stahl Goethe-Universität Frankfurt
  7. 7.

    Second Nature and Reection Second-nature naturalism Theoretical move 1: critique

    of coherentism and Myth of the Given judgements as answerable to the world only through conceptual character of (natural) human sensibility extension of concept of nature beyond natural sciences Titus Stahl Goethe-Universität Frankfurt
  8. 8.

    Second Nature and Reection Second-nature naturalism Theoretical move 2: rejection

    of subjectivist analysis of secondary qualities rejection of disentanglement theses (fear and the fearful) ineliminability of moral features from description of moral reactions consequence: objectivity of moral properties Titus Stahl Goethe-Universität Frankfurt
  9. 9.

    Second Nature and Reection Second-nature naturalism The ethical is a

    domain of rational requirements which are there in any case, whether or not we are responsive to them. We are alerted to these demands by acquiring appropriate conceptual capacities. When a decent upbringing initiates us into the relevant way of thinking, our eyes are opened to the very existence of this tract of the space of reasons.  McDowell, Mind and World Titus Stahl Goethe-Universität Frankfurt
  10. 10.

    Second Nature and Reection Advantages of second-nature naturalism Can second-nature

    naturalism make sense of the critical autonomy of moral subjects? (A) it allows for an explanation of moral disagreement Titus Stahl Goethe-Universität Frankfurt
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    Second Nature and Reection Second-nature naturalism (B) It allows for

    reection and reective improvement Weaknesses that reection discloses in inherited ways of thinking can dictate the formation of new concepts and conceptions the essential thing is that one can reect only from the midst of the way of thinking one is reecting about  McDowell, Mind and World Titus Stahl Goethe-Universität Frankfurt
  12. 12.

    Second Nature and Reection Second-nature naturalism (C) It allows for

    an understanding of moral progress Titus Stahl Goethe-Universität Frankfurt
  13. 13.

    Second Nature and Reection Second-nature naturalism (C) It allows for

    an understanding of moral progress But there are also conservatism worries. Titus Stahl Goethe-Universität Frankfurt
  14. 14.

    Second Nature and Reection Conservatism worries about second-nature naturalism Criticism

    1: Blackburn. Seeing reactions as non-separable from perception, inference between perception and reaction becomes immune to criticism (cf. the cute and the lewd). Titus Stahl Goethe-Universität Frankfurt
  15. 15.

    Second Nature and Reection Conservatism worries about second-nature naturalism the

    talk of a special perception available only to those who have been acculturated, simply sounds hollow: disguises for a conservative and ultimately self-serving complacency  Blackburn, Ruling Passions Titus Stahl Goethe-Universität Frankfurt
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    Second Nature and Reection Conservatism worries about second-nature naturalism Criticism

    2: Arguing from within a tradition seems only to allow very weak forms of critique. No critique of a tradition as a whole. Titus Stahl Goethe-Universität Frankfurt
  17. 17.

    Second Nature and Reection Conservatism worries about second-nature naturalism Two

    forms of objection: (1) objection to merely internal critique of specic moral norms (2) objection to elevation of a process of education and a character ideal to a necessary condition for morality Titus Stahl Goethe-Universität Frankfurt
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    Second Nature and Reection Conservatism worries about second-nature naturalism Critique

    of ethical formation: It expresses the suspicion that a critique of reason which still consents to let itself be regulated by the very thing it purports to criticize must harbour tendencies that are not merely `conservationist' but also conservative  Lovibond, Ethical Formation Titus Stahl Goethe-Universität Frankfurt
  19. 19.

    Second Nature and Reection Conservatism worries about second-nature naturalism Two

    possible responses to these charges of conservatism. (1) Genealogical reectivity (2) Negative naturalism Titus Stahl Goethe-Universität Frankfurt
  20. 20.

    Second Nature and Reection Response 1: Genealogical Reectivity McDowell's claims

    about reectivity: honest responsiveness to reective criticism implicit standards for self-scrutiny standing obligation to engage in critical reection But: How? Titus Stahl Goethe-Universität Frankfurt
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    Second Nature and Reection Response 1: Genealogical Reectivity Genealogical reectivity:

    Awareness of contingency of character formation Moral condemnation of education might lead to skepticism towards resulting judgements Radicalized version of reective criticism But: Still too tame? Titus Stahl Goethe-Universität Frankfurt
  22. 22.

    Second Nature and Reection Response 2: Negative Naturalism Revisiting the

    nature in second nature Titus Stahl Goethe-Universität Frankfurt
  23. 23.

    Second Nature and Reection Response 2: Negative Naturalism The meaning

    of our moral perceptions is given by their integration into a complex second nature which allows us to perceive them to make appropriate a whole range of reactions. Titus Stahl Goethe-Universität Frankfurt
  24. 24.

    Second Nature and Reection Response 2: Negative Naturalism Breakdowns of

    second nature: The integration of our dierent reactive dispositions cannot be achieved in the course of a particular experience. Titus Stahl Goethe-Universität Frankfurt
  25. 25.

    Second Nature and Reection Response 2: Negative Naturalism Consequences of

    a breakdown of second nature: second-order attitudes towards own reaction reintegrate second nature but: sometimes we must understand breakdowns as making defects of second nature visible new integration changes meaning of perceived moral properties Titus Stahl Goethe-Universität Frankfurt
  26. 26.

    Second Nature and Reection Response 2: Negative Naturalism Negative naturalism

    (i): breakdowns must be understood as caused by objective moral properties of a situation (in non-pathological cases) breakdowns as opportunity for learning constitute a new role for objective moral properties not exhausted by their role in successful moral perception but: no Myth of the Given, no positive content Titus Stahl Goethe-Universität Frankfurt
  27. 27.

    Second Nature and Reection Response 2: Negative Naturalism Negative naturalism

    (ii): possibility for critique of a second nature as a whole by reference to objective moral facts but: purely negative role of recalcitrant moral objectivity (and subjectivity) Titus Stahl Goethe-Universität Frankfurt
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    Second Nature and Reection Response 2: Negative Naturalism Negative naturalism

    (iii): allows criticism of second nature by reference to moral experience. this respects McDowell's epistemological insights it rediscovers liberating features of naturalism non-trivial conception of nature Titus Stahl Goethe-Universität Frankfurt
  29. 29.

    Second Nature and Reection Negative Naturalism in Hegel Hegel's insights:

    essentially dynamic conception of human reason Brandom: conceptual pessimism Titus Stahl Goethe-Universität Frankfurt
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    Second Nature and Reection Negative Naturalism in Adorno Adorno's insights:

    rigid integration of second nature as cutting o real experience need for reection on inexhaustible meaning of non-conceptualizable experience Titus Stahl Goethe-Universität Frankfurt
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    Second Nature and Reection Negative Naturalism in Adorno Dialectics: It

    is exactly through [dialectics] that thinking becomes able to let that which is not identical to thinking, which is not thinking itself become visible, but without thereby submitting itself completely to the contingency of that what merely exists. Through dialectics, thinking rather keeps the strength to think even about this non-identical, to think about that which is not essentially thought.  Adorno, Lectures on Dialectics Titus Stahl Goethe-Universität Frankfurt
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    Second Nature and Reection Conclusion A necessary revision: If we

    understand all instances disintegration of second nature as (potentially) making available new experiences, this recommends a liberal, non-deprecatory attitude towards the ethically recalcitrant. Titus Stahl Goethe-Universität Frankfurt