Progress and Law: From Kant's Theory of the Earth to Ethics

Dpto. de Lógica, Historia y FIlosofía de la ciencia (UNED, Senda del rey 7)

MARTES, 8 DE MARZO (Sala de grados, 12.00)

Silvia De Bianchi (UAB), Progress and Law: From Kant's Theory of the Earth to Ethics     

"Progress and Law: From Kant's Theory of the Earth to Ethics".

This talk focuses on Kant’s philosophical reflections related to his theory of the Earth. Little attention, indeed, has been paid to the philosophical underpinnings of Kant’s physical geography, his theory of earthquakes and his reflections on the history of climate, because they did not seem to be relevant for the study of the foundations of the metaphysics of nature and the hard sciences. In order to expound Kant’s theory of the Earth (1754; 1756; 1757; 1775 and 1802) and its role in Kant's system, I shall discuss 1) the epistemological questions emerging therein (with emphasis on what Kant called an inherent uncertainty related to scientific models of the Earth), and 2) their ethical implications. Kant’s work "Metaphysical Foundations of the Doctrine of Right" (1796), indeed, is heavily informed by his theory of the Earth, in particular by what Kant calls the ‘mathematical model’ of our planet. Furthermore, I shall clarify why, in Kant’s view, the progress of physical geography can be assured if and only if the free circulation of human beings is granted and regulated by laws. Finally, I will discuss this claim with respect to current ways of shaping the relationship between epistemological and ethical questions implied in earth sciences.