Modest transcendental arguments

Philosophical Perspectives 10 (Metaphysics):265-280 (1996)
Abstract
Kantian transcendental arguments are aimed at uncovering the necessary conditions for the possibility of thought and experience. If such arguments are to have any force against Cartesian skepticism about knowledge of the external world, then it would seem that the conditions the transcendental argument uncovers must be non-psychological in nature, and their special status must be knowable a priori. In "Transcendental Arguments", Barry Stroud raised the question whether there are any such conditions., He answered that it was very doubtful that one could argue deductively from the premise that there is thought and experience to the conclusion that certain conditions concerning non-psychological, external reality are satisfied. In the intervening 27 years, no one has decisively answered those doubts. No one has succeeded in constructing a convincing Kantian anti- skeptical transcendental argument of the desired kind. In a recent paper, however, Stroud has suggested that things might well be looking up a bit for the transcendental arguer. Stroud now holds that there is a modest variant of the ambitious Kantian anti-skeptical strategy that offers the promise of an answer of sorts to the skeptic that is free of various objectionable Kantian excesses. In this paper, I will describe the more modest sort of transcendental argument that Stroud finds promising, and I will then raise some doubts about the prospects of this modest approach.
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