Kant's response to skepticism
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jack Alan Reynolds
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In John Greco (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Skepticism. Oxford University Press 265 (2008)
Within much contemporary epistemology, Kant’s response to skepticism has come to be epitomized by an appeal to transcendental arguments. This form of argument is said to provide a distinctively Kantian way of dealing with the skeptic, by showing that what the skeptic questions is in fact a condition for her being able to raise that question in the first place, if she is to have language, thoughts, or experiences at all. In this way, it is hoped, the game played by the skeptic can be turned against herself.1 At the same time, however, this appeal to transcendental arguments is also widely felt to show what is wrong with Kant’s response to skepticism: for, it is suggested, such arguments can only be made to work against the background of his transcendental idealism. As we shall see, what this doctrine amounts to is much disputed; but as with any form of idealism, the worry is that it means compromising the very realism and objectivity we want to defend against skepticism in the first place, so that the price for adopting this Kantian strategy appears too high—the cure of using transcendental arguments in conjunction with transcendental idealism is almost as bad as the disease.2 Faced with this difficulty, two kinds of response have been canvassed. On the first, it is accepted that transcendental arguments do require a commitment to the wider philosophical framework of transcendental idealism, but it is claimed that this framework can and should be defended against the suggestion that it is itself ‘‘quasi-skeptical.’’ On the second, transcendental idealism is indeed abandoned as wrongheaded, but it is held that Kant’s transcendental arguments can be made to..
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