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Kant's formal idealism, the synthetic a priori, and the constitution of objects of experience

Nunez, Albert (Tyke) (2015) Kant's formal idealism, the synthetic a priori, and the constitution of objects of experience. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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We rightly take it for granted that knowledge of empirical objects is possible. In contemporary philosophy, however, the question of how we can have this knowledge has largely fallen off of the agenda. In contrast, in the philosophy of Kant, the question of how we can have our ordinary knowledge of these objects lies at the heart of the enterprise of vindicating synthetic a priori judgments. With an eye to revitalizing that question, in this dissertation I begin to mark off a class of Kantian views in metaphysics and epistemology. According to these views, the only way to account for how we can have knowledge of empirical objects as objects—as things that exist and are available to everyone to be known—is if both the nature of these objects, and our knowledge of them, are partially grounded in our faculty for knowing them. It is the necessary, not the contingent, features of these objects that will be grounded in these faculties. And this will be so, not only for the general necessary features that all empirical objects share, but also for those special features of individual objects that we can nonetheless know to be necessary.

Although when examining Kant it is impossible to avoid the question of how empirical objects have their synthetic a priori grounding in our representations, this question has received relatively little sustained attention in the secondary literature. In part because of this, rather than directly delineating the class of Kantian views I am after, I have chosen to spend this dissertation developing a reading of this aspect of Kant’s account. In the first chapter, I look at how this grounding works in general. In the second, I examine how the special necessary features of certain representations are grounded in the necessary features of more general representations. Finally, in the third I combine these two elements into an account of how, according to Kant, both the general and specific necessary features of objects have their synthetic a priori grounding in our faculty for knowledge and its representations.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Nunez, Albert (Tyke)asn13@pitt.eduASN13
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairEngstrom , Stephen engstrom@pitt.eduENGSTROM
Committee MemberJauernig,
Committee MemberMcDowell, John jmcdowel@pitt.eduJMCDOWEL
Committee MemberRicketts, Thomasricketts@pitt.eduRICKETTS
Committee MemberSchafer, Karlschaferk@pitt.eduSCHAFERK
Committee MemberAvigad, Jeremy
Date: 22 June 2015
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 30 August 2014
Approval Date: 22 June 2015
Submission Date: 28 April 2015
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 148
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Philosophy
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Kant, synthetic a priori, formal idealism, transcendental idealism, constitutivism
Date Deposited: 22 Jun 2015 17:46
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 14:28


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