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Kant, Causation, and Freedom

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 January 2020

Robert Hanna
University of Colorado at Boulder Boulder, CO 80309-0232 USA


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1 For convenience, I refer to Kant's works infratextually in parentheses. The citations include both an abbreviation of the English title and the corresponding volume and page numbers in the Standard ‘Akademie’ edition of Kant's works: Kants gesammelte Schriften, Königlich Preussischen, ed. (now Deutschen) Akademie der Wissenschaften (Berlin: G. Reimer [now de Gruyter], 1902-). I generally follow the Standard English translations, but have occasionally modified them where appropriate. For references to the first Critique, I follow the common practice of giving page numbers from the A (1781) and B (1787) German editions only. For references to Kant's Reflexionen, i.e., entries in Kants handschriftlicher Nachlaß — which I abbreviate as ‘R' — I give the entry number in addition to the Akademie volume and page numbers. The translations from the Reflexionen are my own. Here is a list of the relevant abbreviations and English translations:

CPJ: Critique ofthe Power ofjudgment. Trans. Guyer, P. and Matthews, E.. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2000.Google Scholar

CPR: Critique o/Pure Reason. Trans. Guyer, P. and Wood, A.. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1997.Google Scholar

CPrR: Critique of Practical Reason. Trans. Gregor, M.. In Immanuel Kant: Practical Philosophy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1996. 133272.Google Scholar

GMM: Groundwork ofthe Metaphysics of Marals. Trans. M. Gregor. In Immanuel Kant: Practical Philosophy. 37-108Google Scholar

ID: ‘On the Form and Principles of the Sensible and the Intelligible World’, generally known as the ‘Inaugural Dissertation.’ In Immanuel Kant: Theoretical Philosophy, 1755-1770. Trans. Walford, D. and Meerbote, R.. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1992. 373416.Google Scholar

MFNS Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science. Trans. Ellington, J.. Indianapolis, IN: Bobbs-Merrill 1970.Google Scholar

MM: Metaphysics of Morals. Trans. Gregor, M.. In Immanuel Kant: Practical Philosophy. 353604.Google Scholar

OP: Immanuel Kant: Opus postumum. Trans. Förster, E. and Rosen, M.. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1993.Google Scholar

P: Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics. Trans. Ellington, J.. Indianapolis: Hackett 1977.Google Scholar

PC: Immanuel Kant: Philosophical Correspondence, 1759-99. Trans. Zweig, A.. Chicago: University of Chicago Press 1967.Google Scholar

2 See Hanna, R. Kant and the Foundations of Analytic Philosophy (Oxford: Clarendon’, OUP 2001), eh. 3.Google Scholar

3 See H. Bok, ‘Freedom and Practical Reason’, in Watson, G. ed., Free Will 2nd ed. (Oxford: OUP 2003) 130–66,Google Scholar at 130-1.

4 See, e.g., Mele, A. and Heil, J. eds., Mental Causation (Oxford: Oxford University Press 1993).Google Scholar

5 More technically: A-iacts (or higher-level facts) about the instantiation of A-properties strongly supervene on B-facts (or lower-level facts) about the instantiation of B-properties if and only if (1) necessarily if anything has a B-property, then it also has an A-property ('upwards determination’), and (2) necessarily there can be no change in anything's A-properties without a corresponding change in its B-properties ('necessary covariation’). Strong supervenience, which is a cross-possible-world modal dependency relation, can be distinguished from weak supervenience, which is a one-world relation. Also sometimes supervenience is defined strictly in terms of cross-world necessary co-variation without upwards dependency, which might be called ‘moderate supervenience.’ Still other types of supervenience track differences in the type of necessity (logical supervenience vs. natural or nomological or physical supervenience) or in the scope of the supervenience base (local supervenience vs. regional supervenience vs. global supervenience). A Standard formulation of minimal materialism calls for the token-identity of all particular things or events of any kind with particular physical things or events ('token physicalism’), together with the strong logical global supervenience of all properties and facts on fundamental physical properties and facts. For more details, see Kim, J. Supervenience and Mind (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1993);CrossRefGoogle Scholar and Kim, J. Philosophy of Mind (Boulder, CO: Westview Press 1996),Google Scholar eh. 1.

6 See J. Kim, ‘The Myth of Nonreductive Materialism’, and ‘The Nonreductivist's Troubles with Mental Causation’, both in Kim, Supervenience and Mind, 265-84, and 336-57.

7 I should emphasize that the thesis that Kant's analytic-synthetic distinction entails modal dualism is mine, not Watkins's. Moreover in my opinion, at this point in Kant's philosophical development, since he had not yet recognized that the fundamental semantic distinction between intuitional representational content and conceptual representational content is the basis of the distinction between analytic judgments and synthetic judgments, he was unable to assert the irreducibility of real grounds to logical grounds. This is because, without the sharp intuition vs. concept distinction, real grounds can still be construed as merely conditional logical grounds. That is, non-logical necessitation can still be construed as nothing but logical entailment under an antecedent material condition. See Hanna, Kant and the Foundations of Analytic Philosophy, eh. 5.Google Scholar

8 See, e.g., F. Rauscher, ‘Review of Kant and the Metaphysics of Causality,’ Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews (November 2005), URL= <>.

9 The problem is how to understand both the apparently a priori epistemological and also strongly modal Status of these laws, in view of the fact that they are explicitly held to be empirical. See, e.g., H. Allison, ‘Causality and Causal Laws in Kant: A Critique of Michael Friedman,’ in Parrini, P. ed., Kant and Contemporary Epistemology (Netherlands: Kluwer 1994) 291307;CrossRefGoogle Scholar Buchdahl, G. Metaphysics and the Philosophy of Science (Cambridge: The MIT Press 1969) 651–65;Google Scholar Buchdahl, G.The Conception of Lawlikeness in Kant's Philosophy of Science’, in Beck, L.W. ed., Kant's Theory of Knowledge (Dordrecht: D. Reidel 1974), 128–50;CrossRefGoogle Scholar Guyer, P.Kant's Conception of Empirical Law’, in Guyer, P. Kant's System of Nature and Freedom (Oxford: Oxford University Press 2005),CrossRefGoogle Scholar eh. 2; Friedman, M. Kant and the Exact Sciences (Cambridge: Harvard University Press 1992), chs. 34;Google Scholar Friedman, M.Causal Laws and the Foundations of Natural Science’, in Guyer, P. ed., The Cambridge Companion to Kant (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1992), 161–99;CrossRefGoogle Scholar Harper, W.Kant on the A Priori and Material Necessity’, in Butts, R. ed., Kant's Philosophy of Physical Science (Dordrecht: D. Reidel 1986), 239–72;CrossRefGoogle Scholar Walker, R.Kant's Conception of Empirical Law’, Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, Supp. Vol. 63 (1990) 243–58;Google Scholar and Watkins, E.Kant's Justification of the Laws of Mechanics’, in Watkins, E. ed., Kant and the Sciences (New York: Oxford University Press 2001) 136–59.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

10 See, e.g., Kane, R. A Contemporary Introduction to Free Will (Oxford: Oxford University Press 2005);Google Scholar Kane, R. ed., The Oxford Handbook of Free Will (Oxford: Oxford University Press 2002);Google Scholar and Watson, ed., Free Will.

11 See Wood, A.Kant's Compatibilism,’ in Wood, A. ed., Seif and Nature in Kant's Philosophy (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press 1984) 73101;Google Scholar and D. Pereboom, 'Kant on Transcendental Freedom,’ Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, forthcoming.

12 R. Chisholm, ‘Human Freedom and the Seif,’ in Watson, ed., Free Will, 26-37

13 See, e.g., O'Connor, T. Persons and Causes: The Metaphysics of Free Will (New York: Oxford University Press 2000).Google Scholar

14 See J. Kim, ‘Mechanism, Purpose, and Explanatory Exclusion’, in Kim, Supervenience and Mind 237-64.

15 See, e.g., Allison, H. Kant's Theory of Freedom (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1990).CrossRefGoogle Scholar

16 See Hanna, R. Kant, Science, and Human Nature (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, forthcoming),CrossRefGoogle Scholar eh. 8.

17 Holden, T. The ArcUtecture of Matter (Oxford: Clarendon/OUP 2004),CrossRefGoogle Scholar eh. 6. Roger Boscovich independently developed essentially the same idea from a different starting point, and published it in 1758 in his Theory of Natural Philosophy

18 Nietzsche, F. Beyond Good and Evü, trans. Kaufman, W. (New York: Random House 1966),Google Scholar sect. 12, 20, translation modified slightly.

19 See Hanna, R.Kant and Nonconceptual Content’, European Journal of Phüosophy 13 (2005) 247–90.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

20 See, e.g., Guyer, P.Kant's Ether Deduction and the Possibility of Experience,’ in Guyer, Kant's System of Nature and Freedom, eh. 3;Google Scholar and B. Hall, ‘A Reconstruction of Kant's Ether Deduction in Übergang 11/ British Journal of the History of Philosophy (fortheoming).

21 See Edwards, J. Substance, Force, and the Possibility of Knowledge: On Kant's Philosophy of Material Nature (Berkeley: University of California Press 2000);Google Scholar and Zimmerman, D. 'Could Extended Objects Be Made Out of Simple Parts? An Argument for “Atomless Gunk“/ Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 56 (1996) 129.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

22 Frankfurt, H.Freedom of the Will and the Concept of a Person’, in Frankfurt, H. The Importance of What We Care About (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1988) 1125.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

23 See Moore, A.W. Noble in Reason, Infinite in Faculty: Themes and Variations in Kant's Moral and Religious Philosophy (London: Routledge 2003);Google Scholar and R. Hanna and A.W. Moore, ‘Reason, Freedom, and Kant: An Exchange’, Kantian Review (forthcoming).

24 See, e.g., Kelso, J. Dynamic Patterns (Cambridge: The MIT Press 1995);Google Scholar Varela, F. Principles of Biological Autonomy (New York: Elsevier/North-Holland 1979);Google Scholar and Weber, A. and Varela, F.Life After Kant: Natural Purposes and the Autopoietic Foundations of Biological Individuality’, Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 1 (2002) 97125.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

25 See Godfrey-Smith, P. Complexity and the Function of Mind in Nature (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1996),CrossRefGoogle Scholar 320. See also Thompson, E. Mind in Life (Cambridge: Harvard University Press forthcoming).CrossRefGoogle Scholar

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