In Michael Bennett McNulty (ed.), Kant's Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science: A Critical Guide. Cambridge University Press (forthcoming)

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Lydia Patton
Virginia Tech
Abstract
In this paper, building on recent and longstanding work (Warren 2001, Friedman 2013, Glezer 2018), I investigate how the account of the essences or natures of material substances in the Metaphysical Foundations is related to Kant’s demand for the completeness of the system of nature. We must ascribe causal powers to material substances for the properties of those substances to be observable and knowable. But defining those causal powers requires admitting laws of nature, taken as axioms or principles of natural science, which govern anything that can be constructed mathematically or “given as an object of experience” (MAN, 4:474–75). Presenting a complete system of nature requires adumbrating the properties of material substances that can be objects of experience. But it is not possible to show how those properties are involved in explanations of the phenomena without involving the laws that govern interactions between material substances. For Kant, or so I will argue, it is not possible to account for the natures of things, or for the features of laws of nature, independently of each other. The paper will substantiate the Finitist Account (FA) of Kant on laws. The Finitist Account has it that modal judgments about the possible proofs that can be made, or interactions that can be explained, are (1) based on concrete intuitive reasoning and motivated by the desire to avoid appeal to the actual infinite, (2) grounded in finite decision procedures, which are (3) based on reliable systems of axioms or rules of inference.
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