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Dr. Alix Cohen

Dr. Alix Cohen

Fellowship Alexander von Humboldt-Foundation


Alix Cohen is Reader at the University of Edinburgh. Her research focuses on Kant, and it covers a wide array of topics, including anthropology, history, epistemology, ethics, aesthetics and biology (see: https://www.ed.ac.uk/profile/alix-cohen for a list of recent publications). In January 2022, she joined the Zentrum für Ethik und Philosophie in der Praxis at LMU as an Experienced Researcher thanks to a Humboldt Research Fellowship.

Her current focus is Kant’s philosophy of the emotions, and her project while at LMU is to work on a monograph dedicated to this question. The aim of this monograph is to extract from Kant’s writings a systematic Kantian account of the nature and function of emotion. It will suggest a novel way of construing emotions as ‘feelings’, which
are irreducible, _sui generis_ mental states that play a unique role in our mind, namely that of tracking and evaluating our activity in relation to ourselves and the world so as to orient us. Given their orientational function, it will argue that we cannot understand the Kantian picture of the mind without a proper account of the place of emotions therein. This account will thus offer not only an original contribution to our understanding of Kant but also a novel philosophical account of the emotions.

Her other current interest is Kant’s account of epistemic normativity. While Kant’s ethics of action has dominated moral philosophy, Kant is barely mentioned in contemporary debates about epistemic normativity. This reflects the widely held but mistaken view that Kant is only concerned with the transcendental conditions of knowledge rather than its normative constraints. Cohen’s research shows that, on the contrary, Kant provides an insightful account of epistemic norms grounded on the powerful arguments provided by his account of rationality. On the Kantian picture she puts forward, all human enterprises, whether theoretical or practical, should be guided by the same norms, since rationality expresses itself normatively through the demand for autonomy. There is thus a fundamental analogy between our position as agents and our position as cognizers. Our actions and our beliefs function analogically in so far as they are subject to the same rational norm.