Scepticism and the Second Analogy: a modest proposal

Dialogue 18 (1):27-40 (1979)
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Abstract

Despite Decades of scholarly attention certain sections of Kant's first Critique have proved recalcitrant to received readings, canonical interpretations are impossible to come by. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the literature on Kant's treatment of causality in the Second Analogy, where there exists a controversy of many years standing about the success of Kant's arguments in favour of what has come to be known as ‘the causal principle’. For example, contemporary Kant scholars of stature no less than Lewis White Beck and W.H. Walsh argue that Kant offers a uniquely persuasive case for causation. Other interpreters claim that the materials of the Second Analogy fail utterly to provide what is needed to vindicate judgements of cause and effect in a way that would satisfy the sceptic about causation.2 Thus the despairing conclusion of one recent review of the literature on the Second Analogy:It is possible that there lurks somewhere in the pages of the Critique of Pure Reason a convincing reply to Hume's sceptical doubts about the causal principle. But no such reply has yet been brought to light.

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