In a short and much-neglected passage in the second Critique, Kant discusses the threat posed to human freedom by theological determinism. In this paper we present an interpretation of Kant’s conception of and response to this threat. Regarding his conception, we argue that he addresses two versions of the threat: either God causes appearances (and hence our spatio-temporal actions) directly or he does so indirectly by causing things in themselves which in turn cause appearances. Kant’s response to the first version (...) is that God cannot cause appearances directly because they depend essentially on the passive sensibility of finite beings. Kant’s response to the second version is that human beings are endowed with transcendental freedom, which blocks the causal transitivity that is presupposed by this version. We also contrast his position on this topic with Leibniz’s and Spinoza’s. (shrink)
Sellars and McDowell, among others, attribute a prominent role to the Myth of the Given. In this paper, I suggest that they have in mind two different versions of the Myth of the Given and I argue that Kant is not the target of one version and, though explicitly under attack from the other, has resources sufficient to mount a satisfactory response. What is essential to this response is a proper understanding of (empirical) concepts as involving unifying functions that can (...) take sensations as input and deliver normative representations as outputs. By understanding concepts in this way, one need not, as the second version of the Myth of the Given maintains, take sensations to be both natural and normative. Instead, they can be understood as the natural effects of external objects on us, but natural effects that can nonetheless play a role in a normative process because the concepts that are responsible for the normativity of the results can require that such natural effects be present as inputs into the process. (shrink)
Eric Watkins argues that a grasp of Leibnizian and anti-Leibnizian thought in eighteenth-century Germany helps one to see how Kant (in his critical period) argued for causal principles that have both metaphysical and epistemological elements. According to this interpretation, Kant's model of causality does not consist of events, but rather of substances endowed with causal powers that are exercised according to their natures and circumstances.
: This paper argues that Kant's model of causality cannot consist in one temporally determinate event causing another, as Hume had thought, since such a model is inconsistent with mutual interaction, to which Kant is committed in the Third Analogy. Rather causality occurs when one substance actively exercises its causal powers according to the unchanging grounds that constitute its nature so as to determine a change of state of another substance. Because this model invokes unchanging grounds, one can understand how (...) Kant could have thought that causal laws could be justified. Further, because this model, along with the broader ontology it presupposes, is radically different from Hume's, Kant's Second Analogy cannot be understood as a refutation of Hume's position on Hume's own terms; instead, Kant must be proposing an alternative view that competes against Hume's thoroughgoing empiricist account. (shrink)