Introduction

Background

The debate over the role and status of metaphysics is highly relevant in contemporary philosophy. Traditionally, metaphysics and ethics have been regarded as two distinct realms of philosophical inquiry.

However, a new line of research opens up from a re-interpretation of transcendental philosophy, developed in a broadly pragmatist framework. Contrary to what is often assumed, a rejection of the world “in itself” does not entail renouncing the possibility of an ontological inquiry into the structure of the world, while it does require us to reinterpret that inquiry – as dealing with a humanly categorized reality and its practice-embedded features.

A careful examination of this view will lead to the general question of the relation of such metaphysical inquiry to ethical considerations, and the traditional separateness of metaphysics and ethics can no longer be taken for granted.

Objectives

 

This project poses the question of the relation of metaphysics to ethics and examine their hypothetical entanglement. The basic starting point is provided by the Kantian idea that our notion of reality is to a crucial extent a function of human ways of constituting reality. Extending this view beyond fixed a priori structures, to cover historically transformable categories, in particular human practices, brings up the question as to what extent these practices involve moral issues. If, when dealing with the world in any manner whatsoever (however theoretical), we are always, at least implicitly, making ethical choices and engaging in moral valuations, is not our human reality inevitably value-laden?

The research group will critically evaluate the hypothesis of a pervasive entanglement of metaphysics and ethics – no more taken as theories independent of one another. According to a more radical hypothesis, metaphysics is not possible without ethical underpinnings; indeed, the possibility of grounding metaphysics in ethics rather than vice versa will be carefully examined.

The issues to be studied will have special bearing on problems associated with (to mention some of the most relevant examples) realism and naturalism, moral realism and metaethics – as well as the complex relations between these, and the related metaphilosophical issues. Alongside with systematic treatment, critical reference will be made to philosophical classics, in particular Hegel, Nietzsche, and the classical American pragmatists.