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Summary There are at least four primary areas of concern when we consider Kant’s views on modality, i.e. his views concerning possibility, actuality, and necessity. First, modality is one of the four main sections of the table of judgments in the Critique of Pure Reason (A70/B95), under which problematic, assertoric and apodictic forms fall. Hence, we may ask what these modal forms of judgment are, and what Kant intended their role to be in his wider system. Second, modality is accordingly also one of the four main sections of the table of categories (A80/B106), under which the concepts of possibility-impossibility, existence-non-existence, and necessity-contingency fall. These categories and the principles arising are then discussed in the section of the Analytic of Principles entitled The Postulates of Empirical Thinking in General, where we find a principle each for possibility, actuality and necessity. Hence, we may ask ourselves what the contents of these modal categories and principles are, and again how they contribute to Kant’s system. Third, Kant makes an important distinction between real and logical modality. It is of interest, not only what the content of this distinction is, and how Kant applies it in his work, but also how this brings out a contrast between Kant and his predecessors. In broad terms, the rationalists took logical modality to determine what must, can, and can’t exist, whereas for Kant only real modality concerns being. Finally, modal concepts suffuse Kant’s work, for example, in his notion of a transcendental condition as a necessary condition of possible experience, and in his discussions of arguments for the existence of a necessary being. Given the centrality of modality to the wider context of Kant’s philosophy, it is all the more important to gain a clear view of his specific understanding of the modal concepts. Does work on Kant on existence belong in the category of “Kant and modality”? On the one hand, existence is one of the modal categories. On the other, this topic far outruns work on Kant’s on possibility and necessity. As such, including all work on Kant on existence would risk swamping this category. In general, where papers have been proposed as additions, they are accepted, but papers on Kant on existence have not been sought out to be included.
Key works The modal forms of judgment are primarily discussed in the Critique of Pure Reason (Kant 1998) and the Jaesche Logik (in Kant 1992). The modal categories and principles arising from them are primarily discussed in the Critique of Pure Reason, particularly in the section “The postulates of empirical thinking in general” (A218-235/B265-287). There is also an interesting discussion of the role of modal concepts in sections 76-77 of the Critique of the Power of Judgment, 5:401-410 (Kant 2000). The distinction between real and logical modality appears in the Critique of Pure Reason. Kant’s pre-critical essay “The one possible basis for a demonstration of the existence of God” (the “Beweisgrund”) is also a valuable source (in Kant 1992). The Critique of Pure Reason is a central example of how modal concepts permeate Kant’s work. One can also find helpful and interesting remarks on modality throughout Kant’s Lectures on Metaphysics (Kant 1997).
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  1. Uygar Abaci (2014). Kant's Only Possible Argument and Chignell's Real Harmony. Kantian Review 19 (1):1-25.
    Andrew Chignell recently proposed an original reconstruction of Kant's for the existence of God. Chignell claims that what motivates the of Kant's proof, , is the requirement that the predicates of a really possible thing must be , i.e. compatible in an extra-logical or metaphysical sense. I take issue with Chignell's reconstruction. First, the pre-Critical Kant does not present as a general condition of real possibility. Second, the real harmony requirement is not what motivates the of the proof. Instead, this (...)
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  2. Uygar Abaci (2013). The Coextensiveness Thesis and Kant's Modal Agnosticism in the ‘Postulates’. European Journal of Philosophy 23 (4).
    In the Critique of Pure Reason, following his elucidation of the ‘postulates’ of possibility, actuality, and necessity, Kant makes a series of puzzling remarks. He seems to deny the somewhat metaphysically intuitive contention that the extension of possibility is greater than that of actuality, which, in turn, is greater than that of necessity. Further, he states that the actual adds nothing to the possible. This leads to the view, fairly common in the literature, that Kant holds that all modal categories, (...)
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  3. Uygar Abaci (2008). Kant's Theses on Existence. British Journal for the History of Philosophy 16 (3):559 – 593.
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  4. Robert Merrihew Adams (2000). God, Possibility, and Kant. Faith and Philosophy 17 (4):425-440.
    In one of his precritical works, Kant defends, as “the only possible” way of demonstrating the existence of God, an argument from the nature of possibility. Whereas Leibniz had argued that possibilities must be thought by God in order to obtain the ontological standing that they need, Kant argued that at least the most fundamental possibilities must be exemplified in God. Here Kant’s argument is critically examined in comparison with its Leibnizian predecessor, and it is suggested that an argument combining (...)
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  5. Robert Merrihew Adams (1997). Things in Themselves. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 57 (4):801-825.
    The paper is an interpretation and defense of Kant's conception of things in themselves as noumena, along the following lines. Noumena are transempirical realities. As such they have several important roles in Kant's critical philosophy (Section 1). Our theoretical faculties cannot obtain enough content for a conception of noumena that would assure their real possibility as objects, but can establish their merely formal logical possibility (Sections 2-3). Our practical reason, however, grounds belief in the real possibility of some noumena, and (...)
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  6. Franz Andrä (1970). Grund und möglichkeit. Kant-Studien 61 (1-4):190-199.
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  7. Leonardo Antonio Cisneiros Arrais (2008). Kant on Assertion and Content. In Valerio Hrsg V. Rohden, Ricardo Terra & Guido Almeida (eds.), Recht Und Frieden in der Philosophie Kants. 127-138.
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  8. Tom Baldwin (2002). The Inaugural Address: Kantian Modality. Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 76:1 - 24.
    Kant's claim that modality is a 'category' provides an approach to modality to be contrasted with Lewis's reductive analysis. Lewis's position is unsatisfactory, since it depends on an inherently modal conception of a world. This suggests that modality is 'primitive'; and the Kantian position is a prima facie plausible position of this kind, which is filled out by considering the relationship between modality and inference. This provides a context for comparing the Kantian position with Wright's non-cognitivist 'conventionalism'. Wright's position is (...)
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  9. Tom Baldwin (2002). The Inaugural Address: Kantian Modality: Tom Baldwin. Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 76 (1):1–24.
    Kant's claim that modality is a 'category' provides an approach to modality to be contrasted with Lewis's reductive analysis. Lewis's position is unsatisfactory, since it depends on an inherently modal conception of a world. This suggests that modality is 'primitive'; and the Kantian position is a prima facie plausible position of this kind, which is filled out by considering the relationship between modality and inference. This provides a context for comparing the Kantian position with Wright's non-cognitivist 'conventionalism'. Wright's position is (...)
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  10. Graham Bird (1959). The Necessity of Kant. Mind 68 (271):389-392.
  11. Ian S. Blecher (2013). Kant on Formal Modality. Kant-Studien 104 (1):44-62.
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  12. Omri Boehm (2012). Kant's Regulative Spinozism. Kant-Studien 103 (3):292-317.
    The question of Kant's relation to Spinozist thought has been virtually ignored over the years. I analyze Kant's pre-critical 'possibility-proof' of God's existence, elaborated in the Beweisgrund, as well as the echoes that this proof has in the first Critique, in beginning to uncover the connection between Kant's thought and Spinoza's. Kant's espousal of the Principle of Sufficient Reason [PSR] for the analysis of modality during the pre-critical period committed him, I argue, to Spinozist substance monism. Much textual evidence suggests (...)
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  13. Daniel Bonevac (1982). Kant on Existence and Modality. Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie 64 (3):289-300.
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  14. Carolyn Brighouse (1999). Incongruent Counterparts and Modal Relationism. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 13 (1):53 – 68.
    Kant's argument from incongruent counterparts for substantival space is examined; it is concluded that the argument has no force against a relationist. The argument does suggest that a relationist cannot give an account of enantiomorphism, incongruent counterparts and orientability. The prospects for a relationist account of these notions are assessed, and it is found that they are good provided the relationist is some kind of modal relationist. An illustration and interpretation of these modal commitments is given.
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  15. Stéphane Chauvier (2008). Concevabilité et possibilité : Kant ou Kripke. Les Etudes Philosophiques 1 (1):7-28.
    Résumé — Cet article examine les raisons pour lesquelles Kant a nié que la concevabilité soit un guide pour la possibilité. Nous montrons que ces raisons tiennent à la relation interne entre possibilité et existence et à la facticité de l’existence. Nous comparons la facticité de l’existence selon Kant à la facticité de certaines nécessités selon Kripke. Nous concluons que, tandis que Kripke conteste seulement la fiabilité de la méthode de concevabilité, Kant soutient qu’elle débouche, au mieux, sur des concepts (...)
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  16. Andrew Chignell (forthcoming). Corrigendum To: Modal Motivations for Noumenal Ignorance: Knowledge, Cognition, and Coherence. Kant-Studien.
    Journal Name: Kant-Studien Issue: Ahead of print.
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  17. Andrew Chignell (2014). Kant and the 'Monstrous' Ground of Possibility. Kantian Review 19 (1):53-69.
    I reply to recent criticisms by Uygar Abaci and Peter Yong, among others, of my reading of Kant's pre-Critical of God's existence, and of its fate in the Critical period. Along the way I discuss some implications of this debate for our understanding of Kant's modal metaphysics and modal epistemology generally.
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  18. Andrew Chignell (2014). Modal Motivations for Noumenal Ignorance: Knowledge, Cognition, and Coherence. Kant-Studien 105 (4):573-597.
    My goal in this paper is to show that Kant’s prohibition on certain kinds of knowledge of things-in-themselves is motivated less by his anti-soporific encounter with Hume than by his new view of the distinction between “real” and “logical” modality, a view that developed out of his reflection on the rationalist tradition in which he was trained. In brief: at some point in the 1770’s, Kant came to hold that a necessary condition on knowing a proposition is that one be (...)
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  19. Andrew Chignell (2012). Kant, Real Possibility, and the Threat of Spinoza. Mind 121 (483):635-675.
    In the first part of the paper I reconstruct Kant’s proof of the existence of a ‘most real being’ while also highlighting the theory of modality that motivates Kant’s departure from Leibniz’s version of the proof. I go on to argue that it is precisely this departure that makes the being that falls out of the pre-critical proof look more like Spinoza’s extended natura naturans than an independent, personal creator-God. In the critical period, Kant seems to think that transcendental idealism (...)
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  20. Andrew Chignell (2011). Real Repugnance and Our Ignorance of Things-in-Themselves: A Lockean Problem in Kant and Hegel. Internationales Jahrbuch des Deutschen Idealismus 7:135-159.
    Kant holds that in order to have knowledge of an object, a subject must be able to “prove” that the object is really possible—i.e., prove that there is neither logical inconsistency nor “real repugnance” between its properties. This is (usually) easy to do with respect to empirical objects, but (usually) impossible to do with respect to particular things-in-themselves. In the first section of the paper I argue that an important predecessor of Kant’s account of our ignorance of real possibility can (...)
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  21. Andrew Chignell (2010). Real Repugnance and Belief About Things-in-Themselves: A Problem and Kant's Three Solutions. In James Krueger & Benjamin Bruxvoort Lipscomb (eds.), Kant's Moral Metaphysics. Walter DeGruyter
    Kant says that it can be rational to accept propositions on the basis of non-epistemic or broadly practical considerations, even if those propositions include “transcendental ideas” of supersensible objects. He also worries, however, about how such ideas (of freedom, the soul, noumenal grounds, God, the kingdom of ends, and things-in-themselves generally) acquire genuine positive content in the absence of an appropriate connection to intuitional experience. How can we be sure that the ideas are not empty “thought-entities (Gedankendinge)”—that is, speculative fancies (...)
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  22. Andrew Chignell (2009). Are Supersensibles Really Possible? The Evidential Role of Symbols. In V. Rhoden, T. Terra & G. Almeida (eds.), Recht und Frieden in der Philosophie Kants. DeGruyter
    Kant on how certain experiences might give us considerations counting in favor of the real possibility of certain things. -/- .
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  23. Andrew Chignell (2009). Kant, Modality, and the Most Real Being. Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie 91 (2):157-192.
    Kant's speculative theistic proof rests on a distinction between “logical” and “real” modality that he developed very early in the pre-critical period. The only way to explain facts about real possibility, according to Kant, is to appeal to the properties of a unique, necessary, and “most real” being. Here I reconstruct the proof in its historical context, focusing on the role played by the theory of modality both in motivating the argument (in the pre-critical period) and, ultimately, in undoing it (...)
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  24. Gaetano Chiurazzi (2000). Schématisme et Modalité: La doctrine kantienne du schématisme comme thématisation de la dimension analogico-expérimentale de la connaissance. Kant-Studien 91 (2):146-164.
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  25. Pio Colonnello (1989). Über den Begriff der Notwendigkeit in Kants Analytik der Grundsätze. Kant-Studien 80 (1-4):48-62.
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  26. Kirk Dallas Wilson (1978). Studies in the Formal Logic of Kant's Modal Functions of Judgment. Kant-Studien 69 (1-4):252-272.
  27. Ramiro Borges de Meneses (2005). Filosofia da Aritmética em Kant. Gregorianum 86 (4):857-874.
    The influence of Kant's philosophy as a whole, have certainly been great enough so that this by itself would be enough to make Kant's philosophy of arithmetic of interest to historical scholars. It is also possible to show the influence of Kant on a number of important later writers on the foundations of Arithmetic, so that Kant has importance specifically as a figure in the history of the philosophical of mathematics. However, my aim in this article has been animated by (...)
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  28. Mark Fisher & Eric Watkins (1998). Kant on the Material Ground of Possibility: From "The Only Possible Argument" to the "Critique of Pure Reason". Review of Metaphysics 52 (2):369 - 395.
  29. J. William Forgie (2008). Kant and Existence: Critique of Pure Reason A 600/B 628. Kant-Studien 99 (1):1-12.
    By whatever and by however many predicates we may think a thing – even if we completely determine it – we do not make the least addition to the thing when we further declare that this thing is. Otherwise, it would not be exactly the same thing that exists, but something more than we had thought in the concept; and we could not, therefore, say that the exact object of my concept exists.
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  30. William Forgie (2007). Gassendi and Kant on Existence. Journal of the History of Philosophy 45 (4):511 - 523.
    : In rejecting Descartes's ontological proof for the existence of God, Gassendi maintained that existence is not a property and Kant said that it is not a "real predicate." It is commonly supposed that both are making the same claim. Some have even thought that they advance essentially the same argument for that same claim. I believe none of this is correct. Gassendi and Kant offer different arguments. And they are arguing for different conclusions. These differences stem from a more (...)
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  31. Cord Friebe (2013). War Kant ein B-Theoretiker der Zeit? In Margit Ruffing, Claudio La Rocca, Alfredo Ferrarin & Stefano Bacin (eds.), Kant Und Die Philosophie in Weltbürgerlicher Absicht: Akten des Xi. Kant-Kongresses 2010. De Gruyter 597-604.
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  32. Michael Friedman (2014). Laws of Nature and Causal Necessity. Kant-Studien 105 (4):531-553.
    Name der Zeitschrift: Kant-Studien Jahrgang: 105 Heft: 4 Seiten: 531-553.
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  33. Martha I. Gibson (2011). A Revolution in Method, Kant's “Copernican Hypothesis”, and the Necessity of Natural Laws. Kant-Studien 102 (1):1-21.
    In an effort to account for our a priori knowledge of synthetic necessary truths, Kant proposes to extend the successful method used in mathematics and the natural sciences to metaphysics. In this paper, a uniform account of that method is proposed and the particular contribution of the ‘Copernican hypothesis’ to our knowledge of necessary truths is explained. It is argued that, though the necessity of the truths is in a way owing to the object's relation to our cognition, the truths (...)
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  34. Hans-Johann Glock (1997). Kant and Wittgenstein: Philosophy, Necessity and Representation. International Journal of Philosophical Studies 5 (2):285 – 305.
    Several authors have detected profound analogies between Kant and Wittgenstein. Their claims have been contradicted by scholars, such being the agreed penalty for attributions to authorities. Many of the alleged similarities have either been left unsubstantiated at a detailed exegetical level, or have been confined to highly general points. At the same time, the 'scholarly' backlash has tended to ignore the importance of some of these general points, or has focused on very specific issues or purely terminological matters. To advance (...)
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  35. William Mark Goodwin (2010). Coffa's Kant and the Evolution of Accounts of Mathematical Necessity. Synthese 172 (3):361 - 379.
    According to Alberto Coffa in The Semantic Tradition from Kant to Carnap, Kant’s account of mathematical judgment is built on a ‘semantic swamp’. Kant’s primitive semantics led him to appeal to pure intuition in an attempt to explain mathematical necessity. The appeal to pure intuition was, on Coffa’s line, a blunder from which philosophy was forced to spend the next 150 years trying to recover. This dismal assessment of Kant’s contributions to the evolution of accounts of mathematical necessity is fundamentally (...)
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  36. Robert Greenberg (2006). Necessity, Existence and Transcendental Idealism. Kantian Review 11 (1):55-77.
    The role of transcendental idealism in Kant's theory of knowledge has been both deliberately underrated and inadvertently exaggerated. If conceivably not necessary, its role in Kant's explanation of the possibility of a priori knowledge in the Critique of Pure Reason is at least pivotal to the success of the explanation. On the other hand, though transcendental idealism depends on Kant's epistemological criterion of an existing object, or, simply, his criterion of existence, the criterion for its part is actually independent of (...)
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  37. Bernward Grünewald (2013). Kant und die Grundlegung der Geisteswissenschaften. In Margit Ruffing, Claudio La Rocca, Alfredo Ferrarin & Stefano Bacin (eds.), Kant Und Die Philosophie in Weltbürgerlicher Absicht: Akten des Xi. Kant-Kongresses 2010. De Gruyter 77-88.
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  38. Burkhard Hafemann (2002). Logisches Quadrat und Modalbegriffe bei Kant. Kant-Studien 93 (4):409-423.
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  39. Robert Hanna (2001). Kant and the Foundations of Analytic Philosophy. Oxford University Press.
    Robert Hanna presents a fresh view of the Kantian and analytic traditions that have dominated continental European and Anglo-American philosophy over the last two centuries, and of the connections between them. But this is not just a study in the history of philosophy, for out of this emerges Hanna's original approach to two much-contested theories that remain at the heart of contemporary philosophy. Hanna puts forward a new 'cognitive-semantic' interpretation of transcendental idealism, and a vigorous defense of Kant's theory of (...)
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  40. Robert Hanna (1998). How Do We Know Necessary Truths? Kant's Answer. European Journal of Philosophy 6 (2):115–145.
    It is traditionally held that our knowledge of necessity is a priori; but the familiar theories of a priori knowledge – platonism and conventionalism – have now been discredited, and replaced by either modal skepticism or a posteriori essentialism. The main thesis of this paper is that Kant's theory of a priori knowledge, when detached from his transcendental idealism, offers a genuine alternative to these unpalatable options. According to Kant's doctrine, all epistemic necessity is grounded directly or indirectly on our (...)
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  41. James Hebbeler (2015). Kant on Necessity, Insight, and A Priori Knowledge. Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie 97 (1):34-65.
    Name der Zeitschrift: Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie Jahrgang: 97 Heft: 1 Seiten: 34-65.
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  42. Dieter Henrich (1956). G. Schneeberger, Kants Konzeption der Modalbegriffe. [REVIEW] Philosophische Rundschau 4 (1/2):118.
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  43. Jaakko Hintikka (1981). Kant on Existence, Predication, and the Ontological Argument. Dialectica 35 (1):127-146.
    The ontological argument fails because of an operator order switch between (1) “necessarily there is an perfect being” and (2) “there is a being which necessarily is perfect”. Here (1) is trivially true logically but (2) problematic. Since Kant's criticisms were directed at the notion of existence, not at the step from (1) to (2), they are misplaced. They are also wrong, because existence can be a predicate. Moreover, Kant did not anticipate Frege's claim that “is” is ambiguous between existence, (...)
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  44. Joachim Horvath (2009). The Modal Argument for a Priori Justification. Ratio 22 (2):191-205.
    Kant famously argued that, from experience, we can only learn how something actually is, but not that it must be so. In this paper, I defend an improved version of Kant's argument for the existence of a priori knowledge, the Modal Argument , against recent objections by Casullo and Kitcher. For the sake of the argument, I concede Casullo's claim that we may know certain counterfactuals in an empirical way and thereby gain epistemic access to some nearby, nomologically possible worlds. (...)
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  45. Johan E. De Jong (2013). The Modesty of Kant’s Metaphysics. In Margit Ruffing, Claudio La Rocca, Alfredo Ferrarin & Stefano Bacin (eds.), Kant Und Die Philosophie in Weltbürgerlicher Absicht: Akten des Xi. Kant-Kongresses 2010. De Gruyter 553-562.
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  46. Andreas Kamlah (2009). Kants Antwort auf Hume und eine linguistische Analyse seiner Modalbegriffe. Kant-Studien 100 (1):28-52.
    The concept of necessity plays a central role in Kant's philosophy, but seems to lead to severe paradoxes. On the one hand he states: ‘Notwendigkeit und strenge Allgemeinheit sind sichere Kennzeichen einer Erkenntnis a priori’. On the other hand he talks also about ‘notwendig (d. i. nach einer Regel)’, which means ‘necessary according to the empirical natural laws’. However, he never states explicitly the distinction between these two different concepts of necessity. Either Kant's philosophy is inconsistent or we have to (...)
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  47. Toni Kannisto (forthcoming). Kant on the Necessity of Causal Relations. Kant-Studien.
    There are two traditional ways to read Kant's claim that every event necessarily has a cause: the weaker every-event some-cause (WCP) and the stronger same-cause same-effect (SCP) causal principles. The focus of the debate about whether and where he subscribes to the SCP has been in the Analogies in the Critique of Pure Reason (Guyer, Allison, and Watkins) and in the Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science (Friedman). By analysing the arguments and conclusions of both the Analogies and the Postulates (...)
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  48. Toni Kannisto (forthcoming). Positio Contra Complementum Possibilitatis - Kant and Baumgarten on Existence. Kant-Studien.
    In the course of his philosophy, in various contexts, Kant comes to reject three theses about existence: (i) that the thoroughgoing determination of a thing implies its existence, (ii) that existence is a real predicate or determination of a thing, and (iii) that existence is the complement of inner possibility or essence. Kant’s target here is Baumgarten, who advocates these theses as the criterion, classification, and definition of existence. In this article I seek to clarify Kant’s elusive theory of existence (...)
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  49. Toni Kannisto (2013). Modality and Metaphysics in Kant. In Stefano Bacin, Alfredo Ferrarin, Claudio La Rocca & Margit Ruffing (eds.), Kant und die Philosophie in weltbürgerlicher Absicht. Akten des XI. Kant-Kongresses 2010. Walter de Gruyter 633-646.
    In the presentation I will analyse Kant’s conception of modalities and consider its relevance to his critical metaphysics. With his Tables of Judgements and of Categories Kant makes an important division between two kinds of modality, of which the former is only logical and the latter transcendental, i.e., objective. Only judgements that are necessary in both ways are properly metaphysical. This distinction is important for Kant’s distinction between Transcendental Analytic and Transcendental Dialectic, i.e., between acceptable and unacceptable metaphysics. I submit (...)
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  50. Ivan Kolev (2008). Modal Thinking in the Philosophical Anthropology. Proceedings of the Xxii World Congress of Philosophy 20:129-136.
    If we take a bird’s-eye view of the history of philosophical ideas and try to assess the place the problems of modality hold in it, it is likely that we will gain the impression that they are not among the priorities of philosophical thinking of the essence of human being. A closer look at some classical theses, however, can provide us with different answers. In § 76 of Critique of Judgement, which is actually “just” a comment on the basic text, (...)
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