Logicism, Possibilism, and the Logic of Kantian Actualism

Critique (2017)

Abstract

In this extended critical discussion of 'Kant's Modal Metaphysics' by Nicholas Stang (OUP 2016), I focus on one central issue from the first chapter of the book: Stang’s account of Kant’s doctrine that existence is not a real predicate. In §2 I outline some background. In §§3-4 I present and then elaborate on Stang’s interpretation of Kant’s view that existence is not a real predicate. For Stang, the question of whether existence is a real predicate amounts to the question: ‘could there be non-actual possibilia?’ (p.35). Kant’s view, according to Stang, is that there could not, and that the very notion of non-actual or ‘mere’ possibilia is incoherent. In §5 I take a close look at Stang’s master argument that Kant’s Leibnizian predecessors are committed to the claim that existence is a real predicate, and thus to mere possibilia. I argue that it involves substantial logical commitments that the Leibnizian could reject. I also suggest that it is danger of proving too much. In §6 I explore two closely related logical commitments that Stang’s reading implicitly imposes on Kant, namely a negative universal free logic and a quantified modal logic that invalidates the Converse Barcan Formula. I suggest that each can seem to involve Kant himself in commitment to mere possibilia.

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Author's Profile

Andrew Stephenson
University of Southampton

References found in this work

Semantical Considerations on Modal Logic.Saul A. Kripke - 1963 - Acta Philosophica Fennica 16:83-94.
Logic, Metalogic and Neutrality.Timothy Williamson - 2013 - Erkenntnis 79 (Suppl 2):211-231.
Bare Possibilia.Timothy Williamson - 1998 - Erkenntnis 48 (2-3):257--73.
On Existentialism.Alvin Plantinga - 1983 - Philosophical Studies 44 (1):1 - 20.

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Citations of this work

Formalizing Kant’s Rules.Richard Evans, Andrew Stephenson & Marek Sergot - 2019 - Journal of Philosophical Logic 48:1-68.
Nicholas Stang, Kant's Modal Metaphysics. [REVIEW]Colin McLear - 2018 - Philosophical Review 127 (4):523-528.
Heidegger's Confessions.Judith Wolfe - 2018 - Philosophical Review 127 (4):528-531.

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