Skip to main content

Kant on justification in transcendental philosophy

Abstract

Kant's claim that the justification of transcendental philosophy is a priori is puzzling because it should be consistent with (1) his general restriction on the justification of knowledge, that intuitions must play a role in the justification of all nondegenerate knowledge, with (2) the implausibility of a priori intuitions being the only ones on which transcendental philosophy is founded, and with (3) his professed view that transcendental philosophy is not analytic. I argue that this puzzle can be solved, that according to Kant transcendental philosophy is justified a priori in the sense that the only empirical information required for its justification can be derived from any possible human experience. Transcendental justification does not rely on any more particular or special observations or experiments. Philip Kitcher's general account of apriority in Kant captures this aspect of a priori knowledge. Nevertheless, I argue that Kitcher's account goes wrong in the link it specifies between apriority and certainty.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

References

  1. Allison, H.: 1983,Kant's Transcendental Idealism, Yale University Press, New Haven.

    Google Scholar 

  2. Beck, L. W.: 1967, ‘Can Kant's Synthetic Judgments be Made Analytic?’, in R. P. Wolff (ed.),Kant, pp. 3–22.

  3. Bencivenga, E.: 1987,Kant's Copernican Revolution, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

    Google Scholar 

  4. Bennett, J.: 1966,Kant's Analytic, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

    Google Scholar 

  5. Carnap, R.: 1956, ‘Empiricism, Semantics, and Ontology’, inMeaning and Necessity, University of Chicago Press, Chicago.

    Google Scholar 

  6. Kitcher, Philip: 1980, ‘A Priori Knowledge’,Philosophical Review 89, 3–23.

    Google Scholar 

  7. Kitcher, Philip: 1981, ‘How Kant Almost Wrote “Two Dogmas of Empiricism”’,Philosophical Topics 12, n. 2.

  8. Kitcher, Philip: 1984a,The Nature of Mathematical Knowledge, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

    Google Scholar 

  9. Kitcher, Philip: 1984b, ‘Kant's Philosophy of Science’, inSelf and Knowledge in Kant's Philosophy, Cornell University Press, Ithaca, pp. 157–73.

    Google Scholar 

  10. Nagel, T.: 1986,The View from Nowhere, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

    Google Scholar 

  11. Palmquist, S.: 1987, ‘A Priori Knowledge in Perspective: Mathematics, Method, and Pure Intuition’,Review of Metaphysics 41.

  12. Pippin, R. 1982,Kant's Theory of Form, Yale University Press, New Haven.

    Google Scholar 

  13. Stroud, B.: 1984,The Significance of Philosophical Skepticism, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

    Google Scholar 

  14. Summerfield, D.: 1988, ‘Against Kitcher on the A Priori’, read at the Pacific Division Meetings of the American Philosophical Association, March 1988.

  15. Walsh, W. H.: 1975,Kant's Criticism of Metaphysics, Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh.

    Google Scholar 

  16. Wittgenstein, L.: 1974,Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, Humanities Press, Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Pereboom, D. Kant on justification in transcendental philosophy. Synthese 85, 25–54 (1990). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00873193

Download citation

Keywords

  • Human Experience
  • General Restriction
  • General Account
  • Empirical Information
  • Special Observation