Three problems in Westphal's transcendental proof of realism

Kant-Studien 101 (2):227-246 (2010)
Abstract
The debate on how to interpret Kant's transcendental idealism has been prominent for several decades now. In his book Kant's Transcendental Proof of Realism (2004) Kenneth R. Westphal introduces and defends his version of the metaphysical dual-aspect reading. But his real aim lies deeper: to provide a sound transcendental proof for (unqualified) realism, based on Kant's work, without resorting to transcendental idealism. In this sense his aim is similar to that of Peter F. Strawson – although Westphal's approach is far more sophisticated. First he attempts to show that noumenal causation – on the reality of which his argument partly rests – is coherent in and necessary for Kant's transcendental idealism. Westphal then aims to undermine transcendental idealism by two major claims: Kant can neither account for transcendental affinity nor satisfactorily counter Hume's causal scepticism. Finally Westphal defends his alternative for transcendental idealism by showing that it solves these problems and thus offers a genuine transcendental proof for realism. In this paper I will show that all the three steps outlined above suffer from decisive shortcomings, and that consequently, regardless of its merits, Westphal's transcendental argument for realism remains undemonstrated.
Keywords Immanuel Kant  Transcendental idealism  Neglected alternative  Transcendental affinity  Noumenal causation
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