Kant on Empirical Objects: Their Reality and Persistence As Contrasted With Hume's Scepticism

Lambert, Aaron (2000) Kant on Empirical Objects: Their Reality and Persistence As Contrasted With Hume's Scepticism. MPhil(R) thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

Can we be realists about objects as persistent entities about which empirical knowledge claims are formulated? And do we need to rely on objects persisting by perduring or enduring in order to decide this issue? examine this topic first by Humean and then Kantian lights, in an attempt to formulate Kant's assumptions and his account of objects and our knowledge of them, both as a reaction to and as continuation of Hume's abortive sceptical enquiry. I distinguish three sceptical arguments in Hume, two of knowledge in general and one of knowledge of empirical objects in particular, the latter being in essence a more detailed version of the logical argument as applied to objects. These arguments have different grounds; of the two general arguments, one is psychological and the other logical. I conclude that the psychological argument is unconvincing, and that while both logical arguments are sound on a certain reading, Hume fails to take into account an ambiguity in his assumptions which makes scepticism avoidable. This has two results. First, taking scepticism about empirical objects to be avoidable on Hume's assumptions is consistent with their persisting either by perduring or enduring. Second, there is no need for Hume to abandon rational means for arriving at knowledge of an objective world. I explore the latter consequence in Kant, who has such a rational account, one which sets forth a rebuttal of Hume's scepticism and provides both an epistemology and empirical ontology of objects. However, Kant's derivation of an external world using Hume's subject-first or experience-first approach is faulty. for it assumes what it sets out to prove. This is not disastrous. for against Hume Kant does not need to prove the existence of an external world, he only needs to assume an objective world. This is a reasonable assumption, and as I show. Kant's system provides a plausible epistemology based on it, in which knowledge of persistent empirical objects is a necessary consequence of taking experience as essentially subjective or first-personal. On this account. however, ontologically the question whether objects are entities or composed of parts which are entities is indeterminate, for although objects are identified as relatively permanent when described as causes, experience can be described in non-mutually exclusive ways which are consistent with both the persistence and non-persistence over a period of time of any given object. Thus Kant's account is by default consistent in principle both with objects which persist by perduring and those which persist by enduring, merely because as it stands it does not provide a means of deciding the issue. Finally, both particular and general difficulties found with Kant's system and fruitful avenues of further research are discussed.

Item Type: Thesis (MPhil(R))
Qualification Level: Masters
Additional Information: Adviser: Ingo Benz
Keywords: Philosophy
Date of Award: 2000
Depositing User: Enlighten Team
Unique ID: glathesis:2000-76006
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 19 Dec 2019 09:15
Last Modified: 19 Dec 2019 09:15
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/76006

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