By A. C. Ewing
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Extra resources for A Short Commentary on Kant's Critique of Pure Reason
Given our unrealistic idealizations, this is perhaps the deepest principle of a heuristic approach: a test that idealizations must pass before we can accept them as providing normative guidance. We aren't talking here about apocalyptic descriptivism, fine-tuning our normative idealizations to adapt to all of the pebbles on the beach. What if no one can ever provide what they ask? By Kant's maxim, such idealizations are not good norms for us even to try to follow. If we try to follow methods that require things far beyond our capacities, we may miss more effective tools appropriately tuned to our true abilities.
We need a metaphysics seminar on the nature, detection, and consequences-or as I like to say, the "care and feeding"-of functional localization fallacies. This term is common in methodological discussions in neurophysiology; close to the surface in the units of selection controversy in evolutionary biology; and crying out for recognition in the methodological individualism/methodological holism dispute in the social sciences, and in discussions of reductionism generally. It is such a general problem that it infects all areas of philosophy.
They are now taking a rest break. One says to the other: "I guess you're right. " Your viewpoint is back a way, and you can see that they have just parked in a giant footprint. Hard for them to see, but just what we don't want to miss: so fundamental that it affects everything in sight, but hard to find a place to stand to view it-or to see where it is not. Here a specialist's knowledge may not help, because it may lead us to focus too closely. It is just this kind of mistake we make with our models of rationality.