XI KANT KONGRESS, XI Congresso Kantiano Internazionale

Kant's Critique of the Identity of Indiscernibles

Henry Southgate

Edificio: Palazzo dei Congressi
Sala: sala Vico
Data: 24 maggio 2010 - 14:30
Ultima modifica: 13 aprile 2010


Kant argued that Leibniz’s principle of the identity of indiscernibles (PII) could be refuted with a simple counterexample of spatially dispersed objects. I argue that Kant’s argument is inconclusive. I do not thereby propose that PII is true. I only claim that Kant’s argument is vitiated by uncritical metaphysical presuppositions. Thus it begs the question against Leibniz. My discussion has four steps. I first present Leibniz’s reasons for affirming PII and the modalities he assigns to PII; I stress the importance of the ‘law of the series’ for Leibniz’ argument for PII. Next I discuss the argument itself, indicating its relationship to Kant’s earlier critique of PII in the “New Exposition.” I subsequently propose and assess several rejoinders that Leibniz either could or did put forward against dispersal counterexamples. I conclude by observing the metaphysical questions that the Kant-Leibniz debate leaves unresolved.