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Kant, Modality, and our Ignorance of Things-in-Themselves

When Jan 19, 2015
from 04:00 PM to 05:30 PM
Where Faculty of Philosophy Board Room
Contact Name
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Andrew Chignell (Cornell University)

Kant, Modality, and our Ignorance of Things-in-Themselves

The goal in this paper is to show that Kant's prohibition on certain kinds of knowledge of things-in-themselves is motivated less by his anti-soporific encounter with Hume than by his new view of the distinction between "real" and "logical" modality, a view that developed out of his reflection on the rationalist tradition in which he was trained. In brief: at some point in the 1770's, Kant came to hold that a necessary condition on knowing a proposition is that one be able to prove that all the items it refers to are either really possible or really impossible. Most propositions about things-in-themselves, in turns out, cannot meet this condition. I conclude by suggesting that the best interpretation of this modal condition is as a kind of coherentist constraint.