There is little consensus about whether Kant intends his Critique of Pure Reason to change the mind of a skeptical empiricist such as Hume. I challenge a common assumption made by both sides of the debate. This is the thought that Kant can convince a skeptic only if he does not beg the question against her. Surprisingly, I argue, that is not how Kant sees things. On Kant’s view, skeptical empiricism is an inherently unstable and unsatisfying position, which skeptics cannot (...) help wanting to escape. Kant’s Critique, and especially its Transcendental Deduction, offers thinkers like Hume an appealing means of escape, by explaining a possible relation of the mind to the objects of knowledge which skeptics have overlooked. On Kant’s view of the skeptic as inherently dissatisfied with her position, the offer of an explanation can change her mind while neither refuting nor appealing to her skeptical empiricism. (shrink)
I consider an epistemological, methodological dispute between Nietzsche and Kant about the possibility of rational self-critique: an activity where the intellect reflects on its cognitive powers, demarcates the proper use and limitations of these powers, and thereby achieves a systematically complete insight into what we can and cannot know. Kant affirms whereas Nietzsche denies that we can successfully conduct such a self-directed rational enquiry. By reconstructing the central argumentative moves that Nietzsche and Kant do or could make to defend their (...) respective position, I trace their disagreement to starkly diverging models of philosophical enquiry, of what philosophy is and ought to be all about. (shrink)
Why does Kant say that a “skeptical satisfaction of pure reason” is “impossible” (A758/B786)? I answer this question by giving a reading of “The Discipline of Pure Reason in Respect of Its Polemic Employment.” I explain that Kant must address skepticism in this context because his warning against developing counterarguments to dogmatic attacks encourages a comparison between the critical and the skeptical methods. I then argue that skepticism fails to “satisfy” [befriedigen] reason insofar as it cannot “pacify” reason’s tendency to (...) go beyond its own boundaries. The skeptical method reveals the past failures of dogmatic metaphysics but cannot rule out future successes. Only critical knowledge of reason’s proper bounds can do this, thereby pacifying our restless reason. I close by arguing that Kant’s discussion implies that a skeptic must feel dissatisfied with her renunciation of metaphysics, and that this dissatisfaction can lead her to take interest in Kant’s critical philosophy. (shrink)
In "Kant on Freedom and Rational Agency", I aim to give a comprehensive interpretation and a qualified defense of Kant’s doctrine of freedom as a systematic conception of rational agency. -/- Although my book follows Kant in focusing on the idea of free will as a condition of moral agency, it denies that moral freedom of will is the only relevant (transcendental) type of freedom. Human beings also exercise absolute freedom of thought (intellectual autonomy) in their theoretical cognition. Moreover, our (...) creation and appreciation of beauty requires our freedom of imagination. I consider these three varieties of free agency both in their own rights and in their systematic connections, by examining how they differ from and yet relate to each other. On this basis, my interpretation shows that and why for Kant transcendental freedom is the proper anchor ("cardinal point") of all meaningful, rational human activity: our moral efforts to become more virtuous and to make the world a better place; our theoretical efforts to understand, explain and predict the world; and our aesthetic engagement with the world of beauty, both artistic and natural. -/- Additionally, "Kant on Freedom and Rational Agency" illuminates Kant's intricate, multifaceted account by considering the various metaphysical, semantic, epistemological and normative dimensions of Kantian freedom and by revealing their systematic interconnections. One significant benefit of tracing these links is that by doing so we can arrive at a charitable view of how Kant seeks to justify the belief in moral freedom of will. -/- For many commentators, Kant's appeal to a moral ‘fact of reason’ as our basis for believing in supersensible free will is an abject philosophical failure or a lapse into dogmatic rationalism. By contrast, I show that Kant justifies our belief in free will through a rather powerful, two-pronged argumentative strategy. First, he constructs a practical-moral proof of free will via the fact of reason doctrine. Second, he provides a theoretical defense of this moral proof against challenges arising from a naturalistic worldview. The linchpin of this defense is his argument that naturalistic cognizers must presuppose their epistemic freedom of thought as a necessary condition of all objective theoretical (including naturalistic) cognition. Since epistemic freedom of thought and moral freedom of will are both species of transcendental freedom, naturalists cannot (coherently) debunk our practical self-conception as transcendentally free moral agents. The appeal to epistemic freedom of thought provides no positive grounds for believing in a free moral will; but it shields our moral self-awareness (which does provide such grounds) against its most prominent detractors. -/- This defense strategy (among other aspects of Kant’s view that I examine in my book) shows that a significant part of Kant’s legacy is his abiding potential to challenge and provide alternatives to a naturalistic philosophical worldview (held by the “defender of an omnipotent nature”) according to which the mechanistic order of nature engulfs all metaphysical reality and (thereby) our entire humanity. (shrink)
Can sensibility, as our capacity to be sensibly presented with objects, be understood independently of the understanding, as the capacity to form judgments about those objects? It is a truism that for judgments to be empirical knowledge they must agree with what sensibility presents. Moreover, it is a familiar thought that objectivity involves absolute independence from intellectual acts. The author argues that together these thoughts motivate a common reading of Kant on which operations of sensibility are conceived as intelligible independently (...) of acts of the understanding, so that their supposed objectivity can validate judgments as empirical knowledge. He contends that there are two reasons why this epistemic compositionalism is implausible both as a reading of Kant and in itself. First, read compositionally, Kant’s Transcendental Deduction is unable to fulfill its stated aim of showing that the categories are objectively valid, that is, exemplified by the objects that sensibility presents. Second, Kant sees that sensibility by itself cannot be understood to even purport to present objects, thus undermining the very intelligibility of compositionalism. The author argues that, given these challenges, Kant’s Deduction develops an alternative account, on which operations of sensibility and acts of the understanding can be understood only together. He contends that this epistemic hylomorphism transforms the familiar thought underlying compositionalism: objectivity simultaneously involves formal agreement with intellectual acts in general and material independence from any specific such act. He thus shows how Kant reconceives our conception of objectivity by overcoming compositionalism in favor of hylomorphism. (shrink)
In this paper I propose a novel interpretation of Kant’s proof of the existence of the outer world in the Refutation of Idealism. According to this interpretation, Kant’s proof does not provide a regressive explanation of our capacity to determine the temporal order of our experiences. Rather, it expresses a counterfactual reflection on what it takes for something to be actual in contrast to being merely imagined. On the ground of this reflection, Kant argues against the Cartesian sceptic that, even (...) if all our representations of empirical objects other than ourselves failed to be veridical, we would still know a priori that in every situation in which we, as thinking things, actually exist, something outside us in space must necessarily exist. (shrink)
I argue that Kant thought his Transcendental Deduction of the Pure Concepts could reach skeptical empiricists like Hume by providing an overlooked explanation of the mind's a priori relation to the objects of experience. And he thought empiricists may be motivated to listen to this explanation because of an instability and dissatisfaction inherent to empiricism.
On the historically dominant reading of the Fourth Paralogism, Kant pursues an antiskeptical strategy of a Berkeleyan stripe, aiming to secure our belief in the existence of the external world by reducing this world to a mind-dependent, mental entity. I propose a more charitable and realist interpretation of Kant’s strategy. On the proposed reading, Kant pursues a moderate antiskeptical strategy which sets radical skeptical worries aside; Kant’s Berkeleyan-sounding remarks merely express standard Kantian doctrine (his theory of space).
This paper will make the case that we can find in Kant’s Second Analogy a substantive response to Hume’s argument on induction. This response is substantive insofar as it does not merely consist in independently arguing for the opposite conclusion, but rather, it identifies and exploits a gap in this argument. More specifically, Hume misses the possibility of justifying the uniformity of nature as a synthetic a priori proposition, which Kant looks to establish in the Second Analogy. Note that the (...) focus on the paper is on Kant’s identification of the form that a solution to Hume’s inductive scepticism must take. In making this point, my paper will look to establish two lemmas: Kant identifies synthetic a priori judgments as a means of justifying metaphysical knowledge in a way that circumvents Hume’s dichotomy between matters of fact and relations of ideas; the Second Analogy looks to establish the uniformity of nature of as a synthetic a priori proposition. However, my paper generally abstains from the question of the tenability of Kant’s argument in the Second Analogy. Doing justice to this latter discussion would require more space than I am able to offer here. My paper therefore has a conditional bearing on the philosophical issue of inductive scepticism. If one believes Kant’s Second Analogy to be philosophically cogent, then Kant offers a successful justification of induction against Hume’s scepticism. If not, then at least one can still admire Kant’s identification of the gap in Hume’s argument, which, to a degree, can be exploited independently of Kant’s system. (shrink)
Kant worries that if we are not free, morality will be nothing more than a phantasm for us. In the final section of the Groundwork, he attempts secure our freedom, and with it, morality. Here is a simplified version of his argument: -/- 1. A rational will is a free will 2. A free will stands under the moral law 3. Therefore, a rational will stands under the moral law -/- In this paper, I attempt to defuse two prominent objections (...) to this argument. Commentators often worry that Kant has not managed to establish that we are rational beings with wills in the first place, and that he equivocates in his use of ‘free’ between premise 1 and 2. I argue that both of these objections can be overcome, and thus seek to offer some hope for Kant’s approach in Groundwork III. (shrink)
The focus of this chapter will be Kant’s understanding of Hume, and its impact on Kant’s critical philosophy. Contrary to the traditional reading of this relationship, which focuses on Kant’s (admittedly real) dissatisfaction with Hume’s account of causation, my discussion will focus on broader issues of philosophical methodology. Following a number of recent interpreters, I will argue that Kant sees Hume as raising, in a particularly forceful fashion, a ‘demarcation challenge’ concerning how to distinguish the legitimate use of reason in (...) (say) natural scientific contexts from the illegitimate use of it in (say) dogmatic metaphysics. I will then go on to argue that Kant sees Hume’s tendency to slide into more radical forms of skepticism as a symptom of his failure to provide a systematic or principled account of this distinction. This failure, I argue, can be traced (according to Kant) to Hume’s impoverished, non-hylomorphic account of our faculties – which both robs Hume of the materials necessary to construct a genuinely systematic philosophy as Kant understands this, and makes it impossible for Hume to clearly conceive of what Kant calls ‘Formal Idealism.’ In this way, the failings of Hume’s account of causation are (for Kant) symptoms of more fundamental limitations within Hume’s philosophy. I close by briefly discussing the similarities between Hume and Kant’s understanding of the relationship between, first, philosophical methodology and, second, the nature of our faculties. (shrink)
Kant’s Refutation targets what he calls the problematic idealist. This is understood by the mainstream of Kantian scholarship as the global skeptic that Descartes briefly adumbrated in his first Meditation. The widespread view in the literature is that the fate of the Refutation is tied to its success as an argument against this Cartesian global skepticism. This consensus is what I want to question in this paper. I argue that Kant’s opponent – the problematic idealist – is not the Cartesian (...) global skeptic but rather what I prefer to call here the Cartesian problematic external-world idealist. According to Cartesian global skepticism, we cannot know whether our commonsensical beliefs are true until we rule out that the skeptical hypotheses are false. In contrast, the Cartesian external-world idealist sees as problematic the assumption that the underlying nature of outer things of which we have ideas is mind-independent rather than caused by our own thinking. My aim here is to disentangle Cartesian global skepticism from Cartesian problematic external-word idealism and show that, if measured against global skepticism, Kant’s Refutation is doomed to fail, while against problematic idealism, it is at least a promising argument. (shrink)
Few of Kant’s distinctions have generated as much puzzlement and criticism as the one he draws in the Prolegomena between judgments of experience, which he describes as objectively and universally valid, and judgments of perception, which he says are merely subjectively valid. Yet the distinction between objective and subjective validity is central to Kant’s account of experience and plays a key role in his Transcendental Deduction of the categories. In this paper, I reject a standard interpretation of the distinction, according (...) to which judgments of perception are merely subjectively valid because they are made without sufficient investigation. In its place, I argue that for Kant, judgments of perception are merely subjectively valid because they merely report sequences of perceptions had by a subject without claiming that what is represented by the perceptions is connected in the objects the perceptions are of. Whereas the interpretation I criticize undercuts Kant’s strategy in the Deduction, I argue, my interpretation illuminates it. (shrink)
Interpreters of Kant’s Refutation of Idealism face a dilemma: it seems to either beg the question against the Cartesian sceptic or else offer a disappointingly Berkeleyan conclusion. In this article I offer an interpretation of the Refutation on which it does not beg the question against the Cartesian sceptic. After defending a principle about question-begging, I identify four premises concerning our representations that there are textual reasons to think Kant might be implicitly assuming. Using those assumptions, I offer a reconstruction (...) of Kant’s Refutation that avoids the interpretative dilemma, though difficult questions about the argument remain. (shrink)
I examine the division of labor between the Metaphysical Deduction (MD) and the Transcendental Deduction (TD). Against a common reading, I argue that the MD is insufficient to prove the a priori origin of the categories. For both Kant and his main opponent, namely Hume, the question of whether the categories have an a priori origin in the pure understanding is inseparable from the question of whether they have objective validity. Since the MD does not establish the objective validity of (...) the categories, it cannot establish their a priori origin either. The MD is nevertheless an indispensable part of Kant's project because it lays the argumentative groundwork for the proof structure of the TD and because it provides the systematic plan for the future metaphysics of experience. (shrink)
This paper takes issue with the widespread view that Kant rejects epistemic phenomenalism. According to epistemic phenomenalism, only cognition of states of one’s own mind can be certain, while cognition of outer objects is necessarily uncertain. I argue that Kant does not reject this view, but accepts a modified version of it. For, in contrast to traditional skeptics, he distinguishes between two kinds of outer objects and holds that we have direct access to outer appearances in our mind; but he (...) still considers objects outside our mind unknowable. This sheds new light on Kant’s refutation of idealism. (shrink)
In the Refutation of Idealism, Kant aims to defeat the Cartesian radical skeptical hypothesis that empirical reality might not exist and we cannot have knowledge of it. Kant intends to demonstrate that conscious experience presupposes direct experience of empirical reality. This paper presents new challenges to the conclusions Kant reaches in the Refutation. Kant’s argument turns on the claim that the past must exist, and my challenges concern the possibility that there is no past.
Kant seems to think of our own mental states or representations as the primary objects of inner sense. But does he think that these states also inhere in something? And, if so, is that something an empirical substance that is also cognized in inner sense? This chapter provides textual and philosophical grounds for thinking that, although Kant may agree with Hume that the self is not ‘given’ in inner sense exactly, he does think of the self as cognized through inner (...) sense. It is also argued that he both does and ought to regard this self as an empirical substance in which our changing representations inhere. In the second part of the chapter it is suggested that this poses a significant problem for most of the leading interpretations of Kant’s anti-sceptical argument in the Refutation of Idealism. (shrink)
In this paper I explicate the notion of “presence” [Gegenwart] as it pertains to intuition. Specifically, I examine two central problems for the position that an empirical intuition is an immediate relation to an existing particular in one’s environment. The first stems from Kant’s description of the faculty of imagination, while the second stems from Kant’s discussion of hallucination. I shall suggest that Kant’s writings indicate at least one possible means of reconciling our two problems with a conception of “presence” (...) such that perceptual and hallucinatory states might be understood as different kinds of intuition. This may not be sufficient to secure the relationalist’s claim that intuition is an immediate relation to an existing particular in one’s environment, but it does show that opposition to this claim will require further argument. (shrink)
Stapleford (2007) identified Johann Nicolaus Tetens as the missing link between Reid’s common sense treatment of external world scepticism and Kant’s transcendental Refutation of Idealism. While that account is arguably correct, it failed to recognize the distinction between being justified in believing P and being justified in believing that my belief in P is justified. This paper corrects the oversight and explains its implications. Tetens emerges as a weak externalist regarding knowledge of external objects, situated roughly halfway between Reid’s moderate (...) externalism and Kant’s strong internalism. (shrink)
In his 1841-2 Berlin lectures, Schelling critiques German idealism’s negative method of regressing from existence to its first principle, which is supposed to be intelligible without remainder. He sees existence as precisely its remainder since there could be nothing that exists. To solve this, Schelling enlists the positive method of progressing from the fact of existence to a proof of this principle’s reality. Since this proof faces the absurdity that there is anything rather than nothing, he concludes that this fact’s (...) constitution and this principle’s proof are mutually dependent, non-dischargeable tasks. I trace this reciprocal relation to one Kant establishes between the constitutive categories of experience and the experience that proves their applicability and argue that it adheres to Kant’s threefold criterion of proof. I do so by uncovering the Maimonian skeptical motivation—specifically, the need to answer what I call the question quid indicii—behind the qualified return to Kant on which Schelling’s critique of idealism relies. (shrink)
Kant's notion of ‘discipline’ has received considerable attention from scholars of his philosophy of education, but its role in his theoretical philosophy has been largely ignored. This omission is surprising since his discussion of discipline in the first Critique is not only more extensive and expansive in scope than his other discussions but also predates them. The goal of this essay is to provide a comprehensive reading of the Discipline that emphasizes its systematic importance in the first Critique. I argue (...) that its goal is to establish a set of rules for the use of pure reason that, if followed, will mitigate and perhaps even eliminate our tendency to make judgments about supersensible objects. Since Kant's justification for these rules relies crucially on claims he has defended in the Doctrine of Elements, I argue further that, far from being a dispensable part of the Critique as commentators have tended to claim, the Discipline is, in fact, the culmination of Kant's critique of metaphysics. (shrink)
I argue for a novel, non-subjectivist interpretation of Kant’s transcendental idealism. Kant’s idealism is often interpreted as specifying how we must experience objects or how objects must appear to us. I argue to the contrary by appealing to Kant’s Transcendental Deduction. Kant’s Deduction is the proof that the categories are not merely subjectively necessary conditions we need for our cognition, but objectively valid conditions necessary for objects to be appearances. My interpretation centres on two claims. First, Kant’s method of self-knowledge (...) consists in his determining what makes our cognitive faculty finite in contrast to God’s infinite cognitive faculty. Second, Kant’s limitation of our knowledge to appearances consists in his developing an account according to which appearances and our finite cognitive faculty are conceived of in terms of each other and in contrast to noumena in the positive sense and God’s infinite cognitive faculty. (shrink)
This paper is to propose a new form of Kant’s anti-skepticism argument in light of John McDowell’s works on disjunctivism. I first discuss recent debates between McDowell and Crispin Wright on disjunctivism. I argue that Wright wrongly downplays McDowell’s disjunctivism, whose metaphysical claim that our perceptual faculties directly engage in the world has an epistemological implication that should be able to dismiss the skeptic’s imagery as fictitious. However, McDowell does not clearly offer such an argument. I will show that we (...) can derive from Kant’s Fourth Paralogism of the first edition of the Critique of Pure Reason—which many scholars regard as Kant’s implicit commitment to phenomenalism—the requisite argument that makes us able to dismiss skepticism. (shrink)
O presente trabalho versa sobre o tema, central no projeto filosófico de Kant, da refutação do idealismo, concentrando-se em dois momentos da Crítica da Razão Pura (CRP): a Dedução Transcendental e a Refutação do Idealismo. Adoto duas hipóteses interpretativas: a primeira, de que a seção da CRP intitulada "Refutação do Idealismo" não esgota o projeto kantiano de uma refutação do idealismo, mas lhe fornece o acabamento, apresentando-se como um desenvolvimento de argumentos aduzidos na Dedução Transcendental. A segunda, de que a (...) refutação kantiana do idealismo assume uma forma bipartida pelo fato de que são essencialmente duas as figuras do idealista que a argumentação implicitamente apresenta como adversário da teoria transcendental do conhecimento. Chamarei essas figuras de idealista cético e idealista da autoconsciência e procurarei demonstrar e discutir a presença, na CRP, de dois distintos movimentos argumentativos anti-idealistas que lhes correspondem nas seções da Refutação e da Dedução. Finalmente, esboçarei a pergunta sobre se e em que medida, entendida na perspectiva de sua forma bipartida, a refutação kantiana completa do idealismo na CRP apresenta uma prova suficiente contra o interlocutor que, apesar de admitir, por hipótese, tanto a possibilidade do conhecimento objetivo quanto seu primado epistêmico em relação à consciência do Eu (consciência dos estados internos ou autoconsciência), subordina o domínio da objetividade à instância transcendental de uma consciência de objetos. This paper concerns about Kant's refutation of idealism and focuses on two chief sections of the Critique of Pure Reason: the Transcendental Deduction and the Refutation of Idealism. I shall argue firstly that the first Critique's section named "Refutation of Idealism", instead of exhausting Kant's project of refuting idealism, constitutes its accomplishment, offering a final deployment for some arguments adduced in the Transcendental Deduction. Secondly, I sustain that the refutation-project has two argumentative stages, since the idealist which is implicitly elected as the opponent of Kant's transcendental epistemology has essentially two faces. I shall term the one "skeptical idealist", and the other "self-consciousness idealist", and I'll endeavor to demonstrate accordingly two anti-idealistic lines of argument, both in the Refutation and in the Deduction. Finally, I shall attempt to assign some meaning to the question if kantian complete refutation of idealism amounts to a sufficient proof against a hypothetical opponent who, even though conceding both the possibility of objective cognition and its epistemic primacy towards self-consciousness, subordinates objectivity to the transcendental instance of a consciousness of objects. (shrink)
Kant's response to scepticism in the Critique of Pure Reason is complex and remarkably nuanced, although it is rarely recognized as such. In this paper, I argue that recent attempts to flesh out the details of this response by Paul Guyer and Michael Forster do not go far enough. Although they are right to draw a distinction between Humean and Pyrrhonian scepticism and locate Kant's response to the latter in the Transcendental Dialectic, their accounts fail to capture two important aspects (...) of this response. The first is that Kant's response to Pyrrhonian scepticism is also a response to Hume. The second is that aspects of this response are decidedly positive. In particular, I argue (1) that Kant believed Hume's scepticism manifested important elements of Pyrrhonian scepticism and (2) that both Pyrrhonian scepticism and Hume had a significant positive influence on the development of the Transcendental Dialectic. (shrink)
Content: Elena Ficara: Einleitung Marco Ivaldo: Skeptizismus bei Fichte mit besonderer Berücksichtigung der Rolle des Zweifels in der »Bestimmung des Menschen« Angelica Nuzzo: A Question of Method: Transcendental Philosophy, Dialectic, and the Problem of Determination Rainer Schäfer: Kombinationen von Fundamentalismus, Kohärentismus und Skepsis bei Kant, Fichte und Hegel als Antworten auf Probleme gegenwärtiger Epistemologie Elena Ficara: Skeptizismus und die Begründung der Philosophie bei Kant und Hegel Lidia Gasperoni: Maimon und der Skeptizismus Jürgen Stahl: Skeptizismus und Kritik – zur Wandlung der (...) Kritikauffassung im transzendentalen Idealismus Fichtes Klaus Vieweg: Moralität, Ironie, Skeptizismus Rezensionen. (shrink)
Causal refutations of external-world scepticism start from our ability to make justified judgements about the order of our own experiences, and end with the claim that there must be perceptible external objects, some of whose states can be causally correlated with that order. In a recent paper, I made a series of objections to this broadly Kantian anti-sceptical strategy. Georges Dicker has provided substantive replies on behalf of a version of the causal refutation of idealism. Here I offer a few (...) final remarks about issues at the heart of our disagreement. -/- . (shrink)
In the transcendental deduction, the central argument of the Critique of Pure Reason, Kant seeks to secure the objective validity of our basic categories of thought. He distinguishes objective and subjective sides of this argument. The latter side, the subjective deduction, is normally understood as an investigation of our cognitive faculties. It is identified with Kant’s account of a threefold synthesis involved in our cognition of objects of experience, and it is said to precede and ground Kant’s proof of the (...) validity of the categories in the objective deduction. I challenge this standard reading of the subjective deduction, arguing, first, that there is little textual evidence for it, and, second, that it encourages a problematic conception of how the deduction works. In its place, I present a new reading of the subjective deduction. Rather than being a broad investigation of our cognitive faculties, it should be seen as addressing a specific worry that arises in the course of the objective deduction. The latter establishes the need for a necessary connection between our capacities for thinking and being given objects, but Kant acknowledges that his readers might struggle to comprehend how these seemingly independent capacities are coordinated. Even worse, they might well believe that in asserting this necessary connection, Kant’s position amounts to an implausible subjective idealism. The subjective deduction ismeant to allay these concerns by showing that they rest on a misunderstanding of the relation between these faculties. This new reading of the subjective deduction offers a better fit with Kant’s text. It also has broader implications, for it reveals the more philosophically plausible account of our relation to the world as thinkers that Kant is defending – an account that is largely obscured by the standard reading of the subjective deduction. (shrink)
In the ‘Refutation of Idealism’ chapter of the first Critique, Kant argues that the conditions required for having certain kinds of mental episodes are sufficient to guarantee that there are ‘objects in space’ outside us. A perennially influential way of reading this compressed argument is as a kind of causal inference: in order for us to make justified judgements about the order of our inner states, those states must be caused by the successive states of objects in space outside us. (...) Here I consider the best recent versions of this reading, and argue that each suffers from apparently fatal flaws. -/- . (shrink)
A long critical notice of Michael Forster's recent book, "Kant and Skepticism." We argue that Forster's characterization of Kant's response to skepticism is both textually dubious and philosophically flawed. -/- .
Kant's writings on logic illustrate the comparison argument about truth, which goes as follows. A truth-bearer p is true if and only if it corresponds, or it agrees, with a portion of reality: the object(s), state(s) of affairs, or event(s) p is about. In order to know whether p agrees with that portion of reality, one must check if that portion of reality is as p states. Using the terms of the comparison argument, one must compare p with that portion (...) of reality. This is impossible, because the only knowledge of reality we can have is in the form propositions, beliefs, or judgments, whose agreement with reality is as much in need of justification as the agreement of p with reality. Therefore, it is impossible to know which truth-bearers are true. This paper reconstructs Kant's version of the comparison argument. It is argued that, according to Kant, the argument is sound only under the assumption of transcendental realism. Transcendental idealism avoids the sceptical consequences of the comparison argument. (shrink)
This book puts forward a much-needed reappraisal of Immanuel Kant's conception of and response to skepticism, as set forth principally in the Critique of Pure Reason. It is widely recognized that Kant's theoretical philosophy aims to answer skepticism and reform metaphysics--Michael Forster makes the controversial argument that those aims are closely linked. He distinguishes among three types of skepticism: "veil of perception" skepticism, which concerns the external world; Humean skepticism, which concerns the existence of a priori concepts and synthetic a (...) priori knowledge; and Pyrrhonian skepticism, which concerns the equal balance of opposing arguments. Forster overturns conventional views by showing how the first of these types was of little importance for Kant, but how the second and third held very special importance for him, namely because of their bearing on the fate of metaphysics. He argues that Kant undertook his reform of metaphysics primarily in order to render it defensible against these types of skepticism. Finally, in a critical appraisal of Kant's project, Forster argues that, despite its strengths, it ultimately fails, for reasons that carry interesting broader philosophical lessons. These reasons include inadequate self-reflection and an underestimation of the resources of Pyrrhonian skepticism. (shrink)