The Canon Problem and the Explanatory Priority of Capacities

In: History of Philosophy & Logical Analysis
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  • 1 Dartmouth College

This paper offers a novel solution to the long-standing puzzle of why the Canon of Pure Reason maintains, in contradiction to Kant’s position elsewhere in the first Critique, both that practical freedom can be proved through experience, and that the question of our transcendental freedom is properly bracketed as irrelevant in practical matters. The Canon is an a priori investigation of our most fundamental practical capacity. It is argued that Kant intends its starting point to be explanatorily independent of transcendental logic and the ontic more generally, an independence that would be compromised if transcendental freedom were included in that starting point, even in a mode of supposition. In a different sense, however, practical reason precisely is dependent on the ontic: it can be realized only in beings. This species of dependence is used to explain the puzzling claim that practical freedom can be experienced.

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