Kant’s DGM: The Restoration of Teleology

  • Robert E. Butts
Part of the The Western Ontario Series in Philosophy of Science book series (WONS, volume 24)


I now invite my readers to enter what is perhaps the most difficult, perplexing, infuriating, elusive area of Kant’s thought: his treatment of teleology, purposiveness, design. Ordinarily scholars interested in his philosophy of science reconstruct the main lines of Kant’s theory up to a point that ends with the Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science.1 There is an obvious advantage in such a strategy: It makes it unnecessary to deal with the Critique of Judgement and related sections of the 1st Critique. Unfortunately the focus of the present study makes adoption of this limited strategy impossible. In Chapter VII I developed at some length Kant’s views about regulative employment of the ideas of reason, especially the central idea of systematic unity. The passages of the 1st Critique studied in that chapter pointed the way to considerations not fully developed by Kant until 1790, the most important one being the suggestion that the final justification of science is aesthetic. In any attempt at a full appreciation of science his views on natural design cannot be ignored.


Sufficient Reason Pure Reason Causal Principle Regulative Principle Phenomenal World 
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  1. 1.
    See Gordon G. Brittan, Jr., (1978). To my mind this is one of the most interesting recent attempts to show the relevance of Kant’s theory to contemporary philosophy of science.Google Scholar
  2. 19.
    There are philosophers of biology writing today who still find a certain appeal in something like Kant’s position on design. See, for example, Michael Ruse (1981). As I understand it, Ruse’s apparently quite sensible appeal to what he calls “the artifact model” is at least a recognizable echo of Kantian things gone by.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company, Dordrecht, Holland 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert E. Butts
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyThe University of Western OntarioCanada

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