Kant on justification in transcendental philosophy

Research paper by Derk Pereboom

Indexed on: 01 Oct '90Published on: 01 Oct '90Published in: Synthese


Kant's claim that the justification of transcendental philosophy is a priori is puzzling because it should be consistent with (1) his general restriction on the justification of knowledge, that intuitions must play a role in the justification of all nondegenerate knowledge, with (2) the implausibility of a priori intuitions being the only ones on which transcendental philosophy is founded, and with (3) his professed view that transcendental philosophy is not analytic. I argue that this puzzle can be solved, that according to Kant transcendental philosophy is justified a priori in the sense that the only empirical information required for its justification can be derived from any possible human experience. Transcendental justification does not rely on any more particular or special observations or experiments. Philip Kitcher's general account of apriority in Kant captures this aspect of a priori knowledge. Nevertheless, I argue that Kitcher's account goes wrong in the link it specifies between apriority and certainty.