After initial enthusiasm sparked by Strawson's The Bounds of Sense (1966), Kant's transcendental arguments have been sharply criticized by analytic commentators. As Stroud (1977b, 105) observed, “it is not easy to incorporate the depth and power of Kant's transcendental deduction into present-day philosophical attitudes and preconceptions.” However, rather than trimming Kant's views to conform to contemporary predilections, philosophically it is much more illuminating to reconsider some of our present-day attitudes and preconceptions in order to understand and benefit from Kant's transcendental proofs.
This book aims to contribute to contemporary epistemology as well as to Kant scholarship. Central to this study are important yet unappreciated resources of Kant's Critique of Pure Reason, both methodological and substantive, that provide a genuinely transcendental proof of realism sans phrase. Kant has several projects in the first Critique. Kant's main project is to establish the possibility of a priori knowledge, and thus the possibility of rigorous (“scientific”) metaphysics. Another is to explain how mathematics and physical science are possible (B20, Prol. §§5, 6, 15). However, Kant has a third key aim in the first Critique. While examining the possibility of rigorous metaphysical science, Kant provides a sound transcendental response to global perceptual skepticism. Kant's concern with such skepticism is reflected, for example, in his famous remark on the philosophical scandal that no one had yet proven the existence of the external world (Bxxxix note).