Logicism, Possibilism, and the Logic of Kantian Actualism

Critique (2017)
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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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Andrew Stephenson
University of Southampton

Citations of this work

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

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References found in this work

Semantical Considerations on Modal Logic.Saul Kripke - 1963 - Acta Philosophica Fennica 16:83-94.
The ersatz pluriverse.Theodore Sider - 2002 - Journal of Philosophy 99 (6):279-315.
On existentialism.Alvin Plantinga - 1983 - Philosophical Studies 44 (1):1 - 20.
Bare possibilia.Timothy Williamson - 1998 - Erkenntnis 48 (2-3):257--73.

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