XI KANT KONGRESS, XI Congresso Kantiano Internazionale

Kant's Response to the Principle of Sufficient Reason

Amanda Hicks

Edificio: Palazzo dei Congressi
Sala: sala B
Data: 22 maggio 2010 - 17:00
Ultima modifica: 12 aprile 2010


Despite vehement statements in the First Critique rejecting the PSR as a principle of judgment, Kant was actually more sympathetic to the PSR than these passages alone would suggest. While Kant denies that the PSR can guide metaphysical reasoning, he actually supposes its truth. This position is tenable because, like the rationalists, Kant accepts the assumption that real essences exist and that they are intelligible; this leads him to accept the truth of all clear statements of the PSR. Unlike the rationalists, however, he does not accept the assumption that human understanding is isomorphic with real essences. As a result, Kant rejects only the use of the PSR to determine a priori the existence or properties of a thing. In this paper I hope to illuminate this position. I will begin with a survey of the various formulations of the PSR used by Kant and his predecessors: Leibniz, Eberhard, and Wolff. Then I will examine Wolff and Eberhard’s arguments in favor of the PSR along with Kant’s criticisms of these arguments. Lastly, I will show why Kant rejected the very possibility of justifying this use of the PSR while supposing its truth.