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Conceiving the Anthropological Difference as a Categorical Divide

Peter Wiersbinski


Reviving the ancient doctrine that human beings are set apart from other animals by a categorical divide rather than a difference of degree, contemporary accounts of the anthropological difference appear to conflict with the fact that human rationality is investigated in empirical psychology. According to these accounts, the idea of human rationality is part of a conceptual nexus that is known a priori and can be investigated through philosophical reflection. Thus, it might seem that empirical methods cannot have any say in the matter. Against this, the author makes room for the idea that the investigation of a priori concepts is dependent on experience by exploiting an analogy between a priori concepts and thick moral concepts, which appear to be subject to moral experience and continual learning.

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