On the Value and Lack of Values of Artificial Intelligence (9 Pages) 13 January 2019

intentional, autonomous freedom and the self-legislating of moral laws to govern the exercising of that freedom. In short, then, dignity is not a particular, social rule, but a universal, human capacity: it is not a “human right” that is owed to someone; it is a “human capacity” that each and every individual always and already possesses so long as s/he is alive.

Thesis 9: Human reason is by no means merely subjective and limited to self-selected goals and achievements but, rather, is unequivocally social and historical.1 Given that reason is profoundly limited, Kant’s philosophy of history is not driven by an absolute goal (e.g., Christian salvation or Hegel’s meta-Idea of the One). Kant’s philosophy of history is governed by a, again non-Hegelian, “cunning of reason” that he labels reason’s “unsocial sociality.2 ” Given that history begins, for Kant, with the conscious emergence of humanity’s transcendental capacities of autonomous freedom as the ground of its theoretical and practical reason, history is viewed here as an open-ended project in which humanity seeks to become human (i.e., to properly exercise both its theoretical and practical reason).

Individual and groups can and will act contrary to their self-interests in the name of higher moral principles. Yet, even when humanity acts exclusively on the basis of self-interest, its ability to do so always includes the capacity of practical reason to act morally. Hence, the unsocial sociality of humanity consists in the possibilities of humanity’s very practical reason. This by no means constitutes an embracing of dystopia because humanity’s hope is not dependent upon its achievements or failures but on its originating capacities that can never be eradicated as long as there is such a rational species.

In other words, the very rational capacities that constitute our species marker lead us not merely to exercise our individual, creative capacity but also to democratic social orders grounded in representative government with a constitutionally guaranteed division of powers (legislative, administrative, and judicial) as well as to international cosmopolitanism and the negotiation of national interests under the auspices of a league of nations but not a world government.3

The very “nature” of humanity’s “unnatural” capacities – all of which, of course, are not of our own or any other human being’s creation – ground reason in a social order, as fragile and precarious as the human condition is.4


There is little in these nine theses that applies to Artificial Intelligence so that one might legitimately propose that there is little “intelligence” to AI. Judgment involves more than the blind application of algorithms, and morality involves more than being satisfied with “what is.”

  1. See „Fünfter Teil: Geschichte“ in Otfried Höffe’s Kants Kritik der praktischen Vernunft. Eine Philosophie der Freiheit (Munich: C.H. Beck, 2012): 273-337). []
  2. See the „Vierter Satz („Fourth Thesis“) of Kant’s Idea for a Universal History with a Cosmopolitan Aim AA VIII: 20-22. []
  3. For an account of Kant‘s influence on Woodrow Wilson’s vision for the League of Nations, see Gerhard Beestermöller, Gerhard, “Die Umsetzung der Völkerbundsphilosophie in politische Wirklichkeit durch Woodrow Wilson.” In Die Völkerbundsidee. Leistungsfähigkeit und Grenzen der Kriegsächtung durch Staatensolidarität (Stuttgart: Verlag W. Kohlhammer, 1995): 94-142. []
  4. On humanity’s precarious position, see Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals AA IV: 425-426. []