"Every Human Being has Parents": A Study of Transcendental Arguments and the Possibility of a Priori Synthetic Judgment

Dissertation, The University of Utah (1982)

Kant asked how our a priori synthetic judgments can be objectively validated. His proposed solution was the transcendental method in general and the Transcendental Deduction in particular in the validation of those categories necessary for any experience whatsoever. After briefly reviewing in Chapter I Kant's transcendental inquiry, this study goes on to analyze and appraise those interpretations of transcendental arguments that have recently been proposed. Specifically, Chapter II discusses Jonathan Bennett's and T. E. Wilkerson's suggestion that TA's are "unobviously analytic." Attempts to establish a unique logical relation for TA's, that of presupposition, are then considered, as well as the view that TA's are straightforwardly deductive. ;Taking TA's to be straightforwardly deductive leads to the charge that TA's must rely on a verification principle to have force in answering the sceptic. In Chapter III, this interpretation of TA's is seen to definitely limit their value as a method of philosophical proof. ;It is argued in Chapter IV, however, that failure to truly embrace the transcendental method is the reason for the ineffectiveness of TA's as demonstrated in Chapter III. When the transcendental method is fully adopted, it permits not a deductive argument but the possibility, nonetheless, of a conclusive answer both to the sceptic's challenge and to Kant's question of how a priori synthetic judgment is possible. How these can be answered is the focus of Chapter V and the answer comes not from Kant, but from Wittgenstein and his notion of "grammar." ;The central thesis of this study is that there is an interpretation of the transcendental method that provides, with the help of Wittgenstein's distinctions, conclusive answers both to the epistemological sceptic and to Kant's query about the validation of a priori synthetic judgment
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