Kant's Conception of Number

Philosophical Review 126 (2):147-190 (2017)
Authors
Daniel Sutherland
University of Illinois, Chicago
Abstract
Despite the importance of Kant's claims about mathematical cognition for his philosophy as a whole and for subsequent philosophy of mathematics, there is still no consensus on his philosophy of arithmetic, and in particular the role he assigns intuition in it. This inquiry sets aside the role of intuition for the nonce to investigate Kant's conception of natural number. Although Kant himself doesn't distinguish between a cardinal and an ordinal conception of number, some of the properties Kant attributes to number can be characterized as cardinal or ordinal. This essay argues that Kant's conception of number includes both cardinal and ordinal elements; it suggests that the cardinal elements provide the basis of a conception of number in general, while the ordinal elements contribute to specifying the exact size of particular collections. In considering these elements, roles for intuition begin to emerge, setting the stage for a reevaluation of the role of intuition in Kant's arithmetic.
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DOI 10.1215/00318108-3771988
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