Wednesday, June 28, 2006


The "Zentrales Verzeichnis Antiquarischer Bücher" is a great resource for finding second hand books and old texts in German.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

3rd UKKS Graduate Conference

The 3rd UK Kant Society Graduate Conference will take place in Hertfordshire on Thursday 6th and Friday 7th July. Keynote speakers are Karl Ameriks (Notre Dame), who will be talking about ‘Reality and Religion in the Development of Kant’s Ethics’, and Marcia Baron (Indiana University), whose paper is entitled ‘Overdetermined Actions, Imperfect Duties and Moral Worth’.

There will also be seven presentations by graduate students. On Thursday morning, I will be presenting a paper on the Refutation of Idealism.

Here is an abstract of my paper:
In this paper I should like to argue that the Refutation of Idealism and the Fourth Paralogism of the A-Edition are consistent and that their consistence can be explained by reference to the distinction between Objekte and Gegenstände. This account also helps to explain why Kant placed the Refutation of Idealism after the Second Postulate. I will then discuss a possible objection to this interpretation viz. that my reading of the notion of Gegenstände would make the Refutation inconsistent with transcendental idealism. I will answer this objection by examining the possibility of reconciling the existence of permanent spatial objects with transcendental idealism, arguing that the Refutation is consistent with transcendental idealism and indeed presupposes its validity.
As mentioned in a previous post, I am planning to post about this conference, but the blogging will probably be delayed.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Van Cleve on the synthetic a priori

After some extensive discussions about a prioricity and analyticity with Andreas, I decided to re-read van Cleve's excellent discussion of necessity, analyticity and the a priori in Chapter 2 of Problems from Kant. One nice argument that van Cleve mentions in favour of there being synthetic a priori truths is the consideration whether the claim that all a priori truths are analytic, which the opponent of synthetic a priori truths holds, is itself analytic. He says: "What is the status of the opposing thesis that all a priori truths are analytic? It is not an empirical thesis, so if true at all, it had better be analytic. But is it? Defenders of the thesis have seldom risen to the challenge of demonstrating its own analyticity." (Problems from Kant, p. 27)

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Paton Colloquium

This year's H. J. Paton Colloquium in Kantian Ethics is organised by Jens Timmermann. The topic is Kant's Critique of Practical Reason. It will take place in St. Andrews on Wednesday 5 July.

The speakers are:
Pauline Kleingeld (Leiden)
"Kant's Second Thoughts on Race"

Stephen Engstrom (Pittsburgh)
"Practical Reason and Practical Knowledge"
Replies by Andrews Reath (UC Riverside) and Jens Timmermann (St Andrews)

I will try to blog about the conference, though it will probably take quite a while until I will find the time to write the posts. This is because I am leaving St Andrews after the Paton Colloquium to go to the UK Kant Society graduate conference that will begin in Hertfordshire the following day. The Kant Society conference, in turn, will immediately be followed by a prolonged visit to the US. So blogging will be sparse and the conference reports will probably be delayed.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

NDPR: "Kant and the Empiricists"

A review of Wayne Waxman's "Kant and the Empiricists: Understanding Understanding" is available online at Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Kant on modality

Recently, I have been thinking a bit about Kant's position on modality. Since this topic is not much discussed and since I do not have very clear views on it, I would be grateful for reading suggestions relating to this issue (both primary and secondary sources). My current interest in modality is, on the one hand, due to the fact that over the course of the last three days I have been attending an impressive conference on the epistemology and metaphysics of modality that took place in St Andrews. On the other hand, Andrew Roche and I are still discussing Kant's account of freedom over at Kant blog and the discussion has recently turned to the modal conflict, i.e. the conflict between the contingency of spontaneous actions and the necessity of our actions that are determined by laws of nature. In particular, the issue is to what extent Kant's distinctive appeal to nested modalities requires a two-world interpretation of transcendental idealism.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006


In the Refutation of Idealism, Kant puts forward the claim that every time-determination requires a permanent, without providing any explanation or justification. Such an explanation can, however, be found in the First Analogy where it is argued that permanence is a necessary presupposition of the possibility of experience. Kant's argument starts with the claim that time cannot be perceived. He then argues that owing to this "there must be found in the objects of perception, that is, in the appearances, the substratum which represents time in general" (B225). But why do we need a representation of time in the field of appearances? While it is the case that only in time can we represent relations of time, it need not be the case that the instantiated time-relations in any way represent or exhibit their temporality. Accordingly, no representation of time in perception need be given. The whole problem that we cannot perceive time would be solved if there were a representation of time in perception as we could then perceive, not time itself, but its representation. Instead, we have to use a representation of time that is produced by the imagination. That time cannot be perceived is irrelevant to occurrences being related in time as it only matters with regard to the mechanism by which we have to determine these time-relations. Hence the fact that time cannot be perceived has only epistemological implications and the metaphysical status of time-relations is not affected by it. Because we do not perceive time, we cannot identify occurrences by their objective temporal places, by reference to perceived time. Instead, we have to identify them by reference to other occurrences. While reference to other occurrences is required, insofar as one must determine what coexists, precedes or succeeds, there does not seem to be any need for a permanent.

Can anyone think of a way of saving Kant's claim?

Saturday, June 03, 2006

The depository of the unexplainable

I often wonder to what extent the noumenal world can be used as a depository of the unexplainable, thereby enabling us to indirectly explain that which cannot be explained. When we cannot make sense of something, when there is something that we cannot account for, such as freedom, we can simply save it by placing it in the noumenal world. Here we must make a distinction between different types of unexplainable things. On the one hand, there are those that are inherently unexplainable, i.e. those that lie beyond our cognitive and experiential capacities. On the other hand, there are those that we are unable to explain because even though there is in principle an explanation that we can find, we have not yet managed to find it. Only the former type belongs to the noumenal world. As Kant says in the final section of Groundwork III, we must be able to make intelligible to us the unintelligibility of the thing in question - only in this way are we justified in locating it in the noumenal world.