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The Southern Journal of Philosophy

Volume 47, Issue 4, Winter 2009

Iuliana Corina Vaida
Pages 403-431

A New Kantian Solution to the Third Antinomy of Pure Reason and to the Free Will Problem

The goal of this paper is to articulate a new solution to Kant’s third antinomy of pure reason, one that establishes the possibility of incompatibilist freedom—the freedom presupposed by our traditional conceptions of moral responsibility, moral worth, and justice—without relying on the doctrine of transcendental idealism (TI). A discussion of Henry Allison’s “two-aspect” interpretation of Kant’s TI allows me both to criticize one of the best defenses of TI today and to advance my own TI-free solution to the third antinomy by appeal to a thesis of epistemic modesty based on Paul Guyer’s realist interpretation of Kant’s theory of experience. According to this interpretation, the a priori forms of our sensibility and understanding are not forms that the mind imposes on a material whose real properties are unknowable to us but are instead forms that limit or filter the kinds of things we can experience and know. In particular, being causally determined is a real feature of things as they are in themselves, but the necessity and universality of our deterministic claims are relative, restricted to the objects of possible experience. Consequently, though a causally determined event cannot be free, the necessity and universality of determinism does not entail that free events (choices) cannot exist but that they cannot constitute objects of possible experience. After arguing that freedom is possible, I outline an argument for the reality of freedom, based on the requirements of morality. Finally, I argue that my view, though opposed to metaphysical naturalism, is consistent with scientific realism and methodological naturalism.

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