'This inscrutable principle of an original organization': Epigenesis and 'looseness of fit' in Kant's philosophy of science
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 34 (1):73-109 (2003)
Kant's philosophy of science takes on sharp contour in terms of his interaction with the practicing life scientists of his day, particularly Johann Blumenbach and the latter's student, Christoph Girtanner, who in 1796 attempted to synthesize the ideas of Kant and Blumenbach. Indeed, Kant's engagement with the life sciences played a far more substantial role in his transcendental philosophy than has been recognized hitherto. The theory of epigenesis, especially in light of Kant's famous analogy in the first Critique (B167), posed crucial questions regarding the 'looseness of fit' between the constitutive and the regulative in Kant's theory of empirical law. A detailed examination of Kant's struggle with epigenesis between 1784 and 1790 demonstrates his grave reservations about its hylozoist implications, leading to his even stronger insistence on the discrimination of constitutive from regulative uses of reason. The continuing relevance of these issues for Kant's philosophy of science is clear from the work of Buchdahl and its contemporary reception.
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