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International Philosophical Quarterly

Volume 58, Issue 2, June 2018

Michael Barker
Pages 139-155

The Argumentative Significance of Relative Purposiveness

In the Critique of the Teleological Power of Judgment Kant argues that organisms have inner purposiveness. He introduces inner purposiveness in contrast to relative purposiveness. I examine Kant’s discussion of relative purposiveness in §63. I then argue that Kant establishes three theses in §63 that he subsequently modifies in §64 and further refines in §65. In my view, his discussion of relative purposiveness serves a broader purpose than just to present a contrast from which to consider inner purposiveness. The discussion of relative purposiveness establishes a framework for a sustained thread of argument from §63 through §65, culminating in Kant’s often discussed claim that we must judge organisms to be natural ends. My interpretation exposes a more significant argumentative role for relative purposiveness than is typically recognized.

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