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Kant on Causality, Freedom, and Objectivity

Kant on Causality, Freedom, and Objectivity

William L. Harper
Ralf Meerbote
Copyright Date: 1984
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 200
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  • Book Info
    Kant on Causality, Freedom, and Objectivity
    Book Description:

    Kant’s account of causation is central to his views on objective truth and freedom. The Second Analogy of Experience, in the Critique of Pure Reason, where he provides his defense of the causal principle, has long been the focus of intense philosophical research. In the past twenty years, there have been two major periods of interest in Kantian themes, The first coincided with a general turn away from positivism by analytic philosophers, and resulted in a fruitful interchange between Kant scholars and those who applied Kantian ideas to contemporary philosophical problems. In recent years, a new surge of interest in Kant’s work occurred along with the developing controversy over realism generated by the work of Dummett and Putnam. Scholars now appreciate the extent to which the Kantian causal principle is illuminated by the philosopher’s argument that his transcendental idealism supports an empirical realism. And in turn, Kant’s views on objectivity, causation, and freedom are especially relevant to the philosphical concerns raised by the new debate over realism. The eight papers in this book are drawn from two conferences that honored Lewis White Beck, an influential Kant scholar. Together with the introductory essay by the editors, they show the continuing relevance of Kant’s analysis for the present-day philosophy of causation.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-5562-5
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-2)
    Ralf Meerbote
  4. Introduction: Kant’s Principle of Causal Explanations
    (pp. 3-19)
    Ralf Meerbote and William L. Harper

    The arguments of the Second Analogy in Kant’sCritique of Pure Reasonplay a pivotal role in his transcendental philosophy, and an adequate grasp of their structure and evaluation of their merit are indispensable for any assessment of his thinking. It would not be too farfetched to compare the Analogy with Descartes’ Third Meditation in terms both of their systematic importance and of their influence on each philosopher’s subsequent thinking and on the history of philosophy.

    Descartes had accepted the principle that there must be at least as much reality in the efficient and total cause as in the effect,...

  5. 1 Transcendental Idealism and Causality: An Interpretation of Kant’s Argument in the Second Analogy
    (pp. 20-41)
    Carl J. Posy

    The Second Analogy has been heralded by some as the fulcrum of theCritique of Pure Reason‚or at the very least as the core of Kant’s philosophy of science. Certainly it does contain Kant’s defense of classical science and the causal principle against the challenge of Hume’s skepticism. But this same passage has also been decried by many readers as obscure, repetitive, and of doubtful validity. The first two accusations are probably true. It is the third that I shall address here. In the past decade perhaps the most prominent criticism of this sort has been Strawson’s accusation that...

  6. 2 Another Volley at Kant’s Reply to Hume
    (pp. 42-57)
    James Cleve Van

    A sound reply by Kant to Hume has not yet been found, or so it seems to me. To defend this opinion I must show where I think Lewis White Beck’s elegant reconstruction of Kant’s argument goes wrong.¹ Although Beck’s reconstruction shows how the fallacies frequently charged against Kant may be avoided, one of its key premises is open to serious challenge.

    What Hume doubted and Kant sought to demonstrate is the principle

    (a) Every event has a cause.

    To this end Kant tried to show

    (b) We canknowthat an event has occurred only if we also know...

  7. 3 The Second Analogy
    (pp. 58-65)
    D. P. Dryer

    Everyone who has read theCritiqueis familiar with the examples Kant gives of a ship and a house. By inspecting a certain house a man knows that it has a stone foundation as well as a gabled roof. Another knows that a ship is moving downstream by watching it. The man looking at the house knows that it has a stone foundation from observing its foundation. He finds that it has a stone foundation only after looking at the roof. Yet this does not make him think that the foundation exists only after the roof. He acquires knowledge of...

  8. 4 Kant, Closure, and Causality
    (pp. 66-82)
    Gordon G. Brittan Jr.

    There are two basic questions one can ask about any concept. One is, how is it to be analyzed, or, what is its content? The other question is, what is its status, role, and origin? Often, and for very good reason, these two questions are not distinguished very sharply.¹

    As regards his discussion of causality, perhaps the answers most frequently attributed to Kant are that on the one hand he accepted Hume’s analysis of the content of the concept, but that on the other hand he rejected Hume’s views concerning its status, role, and origin. That is to say, Kant...

  9. 5 Kant’s Transcendental Idealism
    (pp. 83-96)
    W. H. Walsh

    Is Transcendental Idealism in its Kantian form credible? Is it even intelligible? Before attempting to answer such questions we need to say what Transcendental Idealism comprises. A first crude way to take it might be as the doctrine that mind makes nature, that the world as we know it is somehow the product of our thought processes. There are at least two reasons for regarding such descriptions as misleading. First, because Kant never said that mind made nature as such; the most he claimed was that it made nature sofar as it is orderly and connected.As the point...

  10. 6 Substance and Causality
    (pp. 97-107)
    Gordon Nagel

    Hume takes it to be unproblematic that memory and present observation afford us knowledge of particular changes. Hume’s skeptical doubts about causality concern only two points: first, whether we have any knowledge of the connection between the earlier and later stages of an event; and, second, whether we are entitled to project the patterns of observed change onto parts of the world we have not yet observed. It is his denial of the first point that leads to his denial of the second. If we have any knowledge of the connection, that is, if we know what makes one thing...

  11. 7 Kant’s Empirical Realism and the Distinction between Subjective and Objective Succession
    (pp. 108-137)
    William L. Harper

    In “A Reading of the Third Paragraph in B,” Lewis Beck (1978, pp. 141-46) has provided an admirably clear brief gloss on the long notoriously difficult and important third paragraph in Kant’s second-edition formulation of the Second Analogy. This passage, which introduced the Second Analogy in the first edition and was retained unchanged in the second edition, is Kant’s most developed exposition of the way his Transcendental Idealism supports Empirical Realism. I shall defend my account of Kant’s Empirical Realism by offering a sentenceby-sentence interpretation of this passage. Beck’s gloss is an excellent starting point for any detailed account of...

  12. 8 Kant on the Nondeterminate Character of Human Actions
    (pp. 138-164)
    Ralf Meerbote

    The causal principle developed by Kant in the Second Analogy is supposed to be a universal principle covering all temporal happenings. G. Brittan¹ and others have argued that Kant’s causal principle stipulates the use of lawlike descriptions under which such happenings obtain. Such stipulation is significantly stronger than one that requires mere regularities. Kant characterizes this situation by speaking of a determining capacity for judgments and by giving an account according to which all and only determining judgments (as I shall call judgments made on the strength of this capacity) are expressive of proper lawlike conditions or connections. Hence his...

  13. The Second Analogy in Recent Literature
    (pp. 167-172)
  14. The Writings of Lewis White Beck
    (pp. 173-180)
  15. Contributors
    (pp. 183-184)
  16. Index
    (pp. 187-190)