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What is an example of a 'synthetic a-priori'? - Quora
One way to understand the problem Kant is articulating here is toconsider it once again in terms of the crisis of the Enlightenment. The crisis was thatmodern science threatened to undermine traditional moral and religiousbeliefs, and Kant's response is to argue that in fact these essentialinterests of humanity are consistent with one another when reason isgranted sovereignty and practical reason is given primacy overspeculative reason. But the transcendental idealist framework withinwhich Kant develops this response seems to purchase the consistency ofthese interests at the price of sacrificing a unified view of the worldand our place in it. If science applies only to appearances, whilemoral and religious beliefs refer to things in themselves or “thesupersensible,” then how can we integrate these into a singleconception of the world that enables us to transition from the onedomain to the other? Kant's solution is to introduce a third a prioricognitive faculty, which he calls the reflecting power of judgment,that gives us a teleological perspective on the world. Reflectingjudgment provides the concept of teleology or purposiveness thatbridges the chasm between nature and freedom, and thus unifies thetheoretical and practical parts of Kant's philosophy into a singlesystem (5:196–197).
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What is an example of a "synthetic a-priori"
Second, even if that problem is surmounted, it has seemed to many thatKant's theory, interpreted in this way, implies a radical form ofskepticism that traps each of us within the contents of our own mindand cuts us off from reality. Some versions of this objection proceedfrom premises that Kant rejects. One version maintains that things inthemselves are real while appearances are not, and hence that on Kant'sview we cannot have experience or knowledge of reality. But Kant deniesthat appearances are unreal: they are just as real as things inthemselves but are in a different metaphysical class. Another versionclaims that truth always involves a correspondence between mentalrepresentations and things in themselves, from which it would followthat on Kant's view it is impossible for us to have true beliefs aboutthe world. But just as Kant denies that things in themselves are theonly (or privileged) reality, he also denies that correspondence withthings in themselves is the only kind of truth. Empirical judgments aretrue just in case they correspond with their empirical objects inaccordance with the a priori principles that structure all possiblehuman experience. But the fact that Kant can appeal in this way to anobjective criterion of empirical truth that is internal to ourexperience has not been enough to convince some critics that Kant isinnocent of an unacceptable form of skepticism, mainly because of hisinsistence on our irreparable ignorance about things in themselves.
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Kant's moral philosophy is also based on the idea of autonomy. He holdsthat there is a single fundamental principle of morality, on which allspecific moral duties are based. He calls this moral law (as it ismanifested to us) the categorical imperative (see ). The moral law is a product of reason, for Kant, whilethe basic laws of nature are products of our understanding. There areimportant differences between the senses in which we are autonomous inconstructing our experience and in morality. For example, Kant regardsunderstanding and reason as different cognitive faculties, although hesometimes uses “reason” in a wide sense to cover both. The categoriesand therefore the laws of nature are dependent on our specificallyhuman forms of intuition, while reason is not. The moral law does notdepend on any qualities that are peculiar to human nature but only onthe nature of reason as such, although its manifestation to us as acategorical imperative (as a law of duty) reflects the fact that thehuman will is not necessarily determined by pure reason but is alsoinfluenced by other incentives rooted in our needs and inclinations;and our specific duties deriving from the categorical imperative doreflect human nature and the contingencies of human life. Despite thesedifferences, however, Kant holds that we give the moral law toourselves, just as we also give the general laws of nature toourselves, though in a different sense. Moreover, we each necessarily give the samemoral law to ourselves, just as we each construct our experience inaccordance with the same categories. To summarize:
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Finally, the only way to act freely in the full sense of exercisingautonomy is therefore to act on formal principles or categoricalimperatives, which is also to act morally. Kant does not mean thatacting autonomously requires that we take no account of our desires,because that would be impossible (5:25, 61). Rather, he holds that wetypically formulate maxims with a view to satisfying our desires, butthat “as soon as we draw up maxims of the will forourselves” we become immediately conscious of the moral law(5:29). This immediate consciousness of the moral law takes thefollowing form:
Immanuel Kant (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
If my maxim passes the universal law test, then it is morallypermissible for me to act on it, but I fully exercise my autonomy onlyif my fundamental reason for acting on this maxim is that it ismorally permissible or required that I do so. Imagine that I am movedby a feeling of sympathy to formulate the maxim to help someone inneed. In this case, my original reason for formulating this maxim isthat a certain feeling moved me. Such feelings are not entirely withinmy control and may not be present when someone actually needs myhelp. But this maxim passes Kant's test: it could be willed as auniversal law that everyone help others in need from motives ofsympathy. So it would not be wrong to act on this maxim when thefeeling of sympathy so moves me. But helping others in need would notfully exercise my autonomy unless my fundamental reason for doing sois not that I have some feeling or desire, but rather that it would beright or at least permissible to do so. Only when such a purely formalprinciple supplies the fundamental motive for my action do I actautonomously.
Immanuel Kant (1724–1804) is the central figure in modern philosophy
Third, insofar as I act only on material principles or hypotheticalimperatives, I do not act freely, but rather I act only to satisfy somedesire(s) that I have, and what I desire is not ultimately within mycontrol. To some limited extent we are capable of rationally shapingour desires, but insofar as we choose to act in order to satisfydesires we are choosing to let nature govern us rather than governingourselves (5:118). We are always free in the sense that we always havethe capacity to govern ourselves rationally instead of letting ourdesires set our ends for us. But we may (freely) fail to exercise thatcapacity. Moreover, since Kant holds that desires never cause us toact, but rather we always choose to act on a maxim even when that maximspecifies the satisfaction of a desire as the goal of our action, italso follows that we are always free in the sense that we freely chooseour maxims. Nevertheless, our actions are not free in the sense ofbeing autonomous if we choose to act only on material principles, because inthat case we do not give the law to ourselves, but instead we choose toallow nature in us (our desires) to determine the law for ouractions.