How the Understanding Prescribes Form without Prescribing Content – Kant on Empirical Laws in the Second Analogy of Experience

Kant Yearbook 9 (1):133-158 (2017)
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Abstract

Kant claims that the understanding prescribes the existence and necessity of empirical laws to nature, while it does not prescribe which particular empirical laws hold. That is to say, the understanding prescribes the general form of nature and the form of the empirical laws without prescribing the material content. But how is this possible? How can the understanding guarantee that there are necessary empirical laws without prescribing particular empirical laws to nature? In this paper, I want to answer this question by analyzing Kant’s argument for the Second Analogy of Experience in combination with an analysis of his conception of actuality. As I want to show, an application of Kant’s conception of actuality to the argument for the Second Analogy not only fills a gap in this argument, but also leads to an explanation of how the understanding can prescribe lawfulness to nature without prescribing particular laws.

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