Philosophy Kant and the Laws of Nature
by
Michela Massimi
  • LAST MODIFIED: 30 August 2016
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195396577-0315

Introduction

Immanuel Kant’s complex and nuanced view on the laws of nature has been at the center of renewed attention among Kant scholars since the late 20th century. Kant’s view is one of the best examples in the Early Modern period of the philosophical view of nature as “ordered” and “lawful” that emerged with the scientific advancements of the 17th and 18th centuries. Building on the extraordinary success of Isaac Newton’s mechanics and optics, but also on the burgeoning chemistry of Stephen Hales in England and Herman Boerhaave and Pieter van Musschenbroek in the Netherlands, among many others, Kant’s lifelong engagement with the natural sciences (broadly construed) influenced and fed into his mature Critical-period philosophy. Explaining why laws of nature seemingly govern the natural world (as much as the moral law regulates the realm of human freedom and choice) is key to Kant’s transcendental philosophy. Kant seems to embrace a coherent account of what it is to be a law, in moral philosophy and in theoretical philosophy. When it comes to theoretical philosophy (and in particular, to Kant’s philosophy of nature, which is our topic), the main question is how it is possible for us to come to know nature as ordered and lawful. Where does the lawfulness of nature come from? In the Critique of Pure Reason and in the Prolegomena, Kant held the view that our faculty of understanding is the primary source of nature’s lawfulness because the a priori categories of the understanding “prescribe laws to nature”—that is, they play the role of constitutive a priori principles for our experience of nature. Yet, already in the first Critique, and even more so in Critique of the Power of Judgment, Kant stressed the importance of the faculty of reason, first, and the faculty of reflective judgment, second—with their regulative principles—in offering a system of laws necessary for our knowledge of nature. The crucial distinction between constitutive principles of the understanding versus regulative principles of reason and reflective judgment leads, in turn, to a series of further distinctions in Kant’s philosophy. For example, it leads to the different status of laws in the physical sciences and in the life sciences, which in turn became the battleground for the debate concerning mechanical explanations versus teleological explanations.

General Overviews

Friedman 1992 and Friedman 2013 offer a very influential view in this debate (especially with the author’s latest interpretation of Kant’s Metaphysical Foundations). Guyer 2005 provides an authoritative reading of systematicity in Kant’s work (both in moral philosophy and in theoretical philosophy), and Kitcher 1986 is a classic take on Kant’s systematicity, by a leading philosopher of science. Massimi 2014 charts the historical roots of Kant’s view back to Isaac Newton. Warren 2001 provides an insightful metaphysical take on Kant’s philosophy of nature. Watkins 2001 and Watkins 2005 are a must for anyone approaching the debate for the first time, by a world’s leading Kant scholar. Watkins and Stan 2014 is an excellent online entry for a detailed overview on Kant’s philosophy of science (from the Pre-Critical to the Critical periods).

  • Friedman, Michael. “Causal Laws and the Foundations of Natural Science.” In The Cambridge Companion to Kant. Edited by Paul Guyer, 161–199. Cambridge Companions to Philosophy. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1992.

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    A now-classic article in the field, laying out Friedman’s influential reading of Kant on causality and laws.

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    • Friedman, Michael. Kant’s Construction of Nature: A Reading of the Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2013.

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      This is Friedman’s latest comprehensive study of Kant’s mature view on nature. Advanced reading for an expert audience. The introduction is accessible to a wider audience.

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      • Guyer, Paul. Kant’s System of Nature and Freedom: Selected Essays. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005.

        DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199273461.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

        Authoritative collection of essays on Kant’s view on systematicity at work in freedom and nature, with a clear discussion of core issues.

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        • Kitcher, Philip. “Projecting the Order of Nature.” In Kant’s Philosophy of Physical Science: Metaphysische Anfangsgründe der Naturwissenschaft, 1786–1986. Edited by Robert E. Butts, 201–235. University of Western Ontario Series in Philosophy of Science 33. Boston: Reidel, 1986.

          DOI: 10.1007/978-94-009-4730-6_7Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

          A classic article in the field—recommended for beginners with an interest in Kantian legacy in philosophy of science.

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          • Massimi, Michela. “Prescribing Laws to Nature, Part I: Newton, the Pre-Critical Kant, and Three Problems about the Lawfulness of Nature.” Kant-Studien 105.4 (2014): 491–508.

            DOI: 10.1515/kant-2014-0023Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

            A historically oriented article on the cultural milieu and open problems behind Kant’s view on the lawfulness of nature.

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            • Warren, Daniel. Reality and Impenetrability in Kant’s Philosophy of Nature. Studies in Philosophy. New York and London: Routledge, 2001.

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              Short, clear, and pioneering book in advancing a metaphysical reading of Kant’s philosophy of nature in terms of causal powers.

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              • Watkins, Eric. Kant and the Metaphysics of Causality. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2005.

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                This is Watkins’s influential monograph on some of the core metaphysical issues surrounding causality and causal laws in Kant’s philosophy (with their historical sources).

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                • Watkins, Eric, ed. Kant and the Sciences. New York: Oxford University Press, 2001.

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                  An accessible, first-class, edited collection covering a comprehensive range of topics within Kant’s philosophy of nature. Recommended for advanced undergraduate and graduate seminars.

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                  • Watkins, Eric, and Marius Stan. “Kant’s Philosophy of Science.” In The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Edited by Edward N. Zalta. Stanford, CA: Stanford University, 2014.

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                    A comprehensive introductory essay on metaphysical and epistemological aspects of Kant’s philosophy of science, with a particular focus on the philosophy of the physical sciences. First published in 2003.

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                    Historical Background on Kant’s View of the Lawfulness of Nature

                    The next two subsections map the ground on the topic of the lawfulness of nature, according to Kant. In Primary Sources, the key Kantian texts on the topic can be found, spanning the Pre-Critical period to the Critical period and the Opus postumum. In Secondary Sources, some classic authoritative introductions to the topic are listed, including more recent ones.

                    Primary Sources

                    Kant’s reflections on the lawfulness of nature span from Pre-Critical-period texts to the Critical period up until the Opus postumum. Kant 2012a is one of Kant’s very first texts in natural science, offering a cosmogony according to Newtonian principles. Kant 1992 tackles the central issue of a dynamical theory of matter, and in so doing it anticipates themes further explored in Kant 2004. Kant 1998 is Kant’s main text in theoretical philosophy and provides the reader with an overview on the lawfulness of nature and the role of the faculty of understanding in it. Kant 2002 is Kant’s own abridged version of Kant 1998, in which reflections on the lawfulness of nature and the role of understanding are also reiterated. Kant 2004 is a must for anyone who wants to explore in depth Kant’s view on natural science (chapters on dynamics and mechanics are particularly relevant to the topic here). Kant 2000 is very important for Kant’s late view on the lawfulness of nature and the role of teleological judgments and purposiveness of nature. Kant 1993 offers insights on how the topic of the lawfulness of nature came to be refined in the light of advancements in the chemical sciences of the time. Kant 2012b is the latest addition to the Cambridge Edition of the Works of Immanuel Kant series and includes new translations of classical texts as well as first English translations of some less well-known Pre-Critical texts on natural science.

                    • Kant, Immanuel. “Physical Monadology.” In Theoretical Philosophy, 1755–1770. Edited and translated by David Walford and Ralf Meerbote, 47–66. Cambridge Edition of the Works of Immanuel Kant. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1992.

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                      First published in 1756. One of the most important Pre-Critical texts to understand Kant’s theory of matter and its metaphysical underpinning.

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                      • Kant, Immanuel. Opus postumum. Edited by Eckart Förster. Translated by Eckart Förster and Michael Rosen. Cambridge Edition of the Works of Immanuel Kant. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1993.

                        DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511625169Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                        This is a collection of Kant’s very late, unpublished comments and reflections on a variety of topics (especially relevant are the sections on chemistry and the ether for Kant’s view on the chemical revolution of his time).

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                        • Kant, Immanuel. Critique of Pure Reason. Edited and translated by Paul Guyer and Allen W. Wood. Cambridge Edition of the Works of Immanuel Kant. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1998.

                          DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511804649Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                          First edition published in 1781; second edition published in 1787. This is, of course, Kant’s masterpiece in theoretical philosophy, a must for any undergraduate student in philosophy. Kant offers his view about the faculty of understanding prescribing laws to nature.

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                          • Kant, Immanuel. Critique of the Power of Judgment. Edited by Paul Guyer. Translated by Paul Guyer and Eric Matthews. Cambridge Edition of the Works of Immanuel Kant. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2000.

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                            First published in 1790. This is Kant’s third Critique, in which his mature view on the life sciences, organisms, and teleological explanation are expounded.

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                            • Kant, Immanuel. “Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics That Will Be Able to Come Forward as Science.” In Theoretical Philosophy after 1781. Edited by Henry Allison and Peter Heath, 29–170. Cambridge Edition of the Works of Immanuel Kant. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2002.

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                              First published in 1783. The Prolegomena provides a clear and abridged version to core issues presented in the Critique of Pure Reason (including Kant’s view on the lawfulness of nature). Translated by Gary Hatfield.

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                              • Kant, Immanuel. Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science. Translated and edited by Michael Friedman. Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2004.

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                                First published in 1786. This is Kant’s most important Critical-period work on natural science, covering the four areas of phoronomy, dynamics, mechanics, and phenomenology. A must for anyone interested in Kant’s view of nature (but challenging to read).

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                                • Kant, Immanuel. “Universal Natural History and Theory of the Heavens.” In Kant: Natural Science. Edited by Eric Watkins, 182–308. Translated by Olaf Reinhardt. Cambridge Edition of the Works of Immanuel Kant. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2012a.

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                                  First published in 1755. This is one of the very first works by the young Kant, in which a forerunner of Kant’s mature dynamical theory of matter is presented and the nebular hypothesis is introduced to explain the origin of the universe.

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                                  • Kant, Immanuel. Kant: Natural Science. Edited by Eric Watkins. Translated by Lewis White Beck, Jeffrey B. Edwards, Olaf Reinhardt, Martin Schönfeld, and Eric Watkins. Cambridge Edition of the Works of Immanuel Kant. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2012b.

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                                    The latest addition to the Cambridge Edition of the Works of Immanuel Kant series, with the long-awaited English translation of Pre-Critical works such as Kant’s very first essay Thoughts on the true estimation of living forces, among others.

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                                    Secondary Sources

                                    Adickes 1924 is one of the first systematic studies of Kant’s philosophy of nature. Buchdahl 1969 provides the reader with an introduction to the wider historical and philosophical context for Kant’s view on nature in the Early Modern period. Ameriks 2012 offers an overview on the legacy of Kant’s view for post-Kantian German philosophy. Butts 1986 and Brittan 1978 are now classic texts in the field, excellent especially for an introduction to Kant’s view on the physical sciences. Plaass 1965 is one of the first critical studies of the Preface of Kant’s Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science. Friedman 1992 is a seminal text by a leading modern scholar, offering a detailed study of Kant’s philosophy of natural science, while Schönfeld 2000 is excellent in providing a short but comprehensive introduction to various aspects of Kant’s Pre-Critical natural science. Zammito 1992 offers a critical study of Kant’s third Critique and the development of Kant’s view vis-à-vis debates in the philosophy and the life sciences of the time.

                                    • Adickes, Erich. Kant als Naturforscher. Berlin: de Gruyter, 1924.

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                                      A classic (although a bit dated) treatment of Kant’s philosophy of nature.

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                                      • Ameriks, Karl. Kant’s Elliptical Path. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012.

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                                        An authoritative collection of essays covering a variety of aspects, with a focus both on the historical context and the legacy of German idealism. Especially relevant are the first section, on Kant’s first Critique, and the third section, on purposiveness in Kant.

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                                        • Brittan, Gordon G., Jr. Kant’s Theory of Science. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1978.

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                                          A classic and comprehensive treatment of the development of Kant’s philosophy of nature in the Critical period. Accessible for undergraduate students.

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                                          • Buchdahl, Gerd. Metaphysics and the Philosophy of Science: The Classical Origins, Descartes to Kant. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1969.

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                                            A landmark for any undergraduate student in philosophy of science interested in Kant and his legacy for modern debates. Clear and accessible.

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                                            • Butts, Robert E., ed. Kant’s Philosophy of Physical Science: Metaphysische Anfangsgründe der Naturwissenschaft, 1786–1986. University of Western Ontario Series in Philosophy of Science 33. Boston: Reidel, 1986.

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                                              An excellent collection of essays, featuring some classic articles such as Kitcher 1986 (cited under General Overviews).

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                                              • Friedman, Michael. Kant and the Exact Sciences. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1992.

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                                                Another landmark in the field, presenting Friedman’s influential interpretation of Kant’s natural science. Particularly interesting is Part 2, on Kant’s Opus postumum, which includes the author’s reflections on the burgeoning chemistry and its impact on Kant’s view on the lawfulness of nature. Suitable for advanced graduate seminars.

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                                                • Plaass, Peter. Kants Theorie der Naturwissenschaft: Eine Untersuchung zur Vorrede von Kants Metaphysischen Anfangsgründen der Naturwissenschaft. Göttingen, Germany: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1965.

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                                                  This is one of the first important studies on Kant’s Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science, offering an interpretive analysis of the Preface.

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                                                  • Schönfeld, Martin. The Philosophy of the Young Kant: The Precritical Project. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.

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                                                    A clear, concise, and helpful book summarizing the main Pre-Critical works of Kant. Helpful source for navigating Kant’s work on the natural science and its historical context.

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                                                    • Zammito, John H. The Genesis of Kants Critique of Judgment. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992.

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                                                      Helpful overview of the development of Kant’s ideas in the third Critique in their historical context. Recommended for advanced undergraduate classes.

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                                                      Kant on the Lawfulness of Nature

                                                      Buchdahl 1965 and Friedman 2014 defend alternative views on the nature of causal laws. Kitcher 1994 and Kreines 2009 are two examples of how to read Kant’s view on the lawfulness of nature through the lenses of contemporary discussions in philosophy of science about laws. Chignell 2014 and Pollok 2014 place Kant’s view in the broader epistemological and historical context, and Watkins 2007 and Watkins 2014 offer some of the best and more thorough introductions to the topic.

                                                      • Buchdahl, Gerd. “Causality, Causal Laws and Scientific Theory in the Philosophy of Kant.” British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 16 (1965): 187–208.

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                                                        An influential reading of Kant’s philosophy to get to grips with some of the controversy surrounding causal laws.

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                                                        • Chignell, Andrew. “Modal Motivations for Noumenal Ignorance: Knowledge, Cognition, and Coherence.” Kant-Studien 105.4 (2014): 573–597.

                                                          DOI: 10.1515/kant-2014-0027Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                          A cutting-edge study on the role of laws of nature in Kant’s epistemology.

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                                                          • Friedman, Michael. “Laws of Nature and Causal Necessity.” Kant-Studien 105.4 (2014): 531–553.

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                                                            This is Friedman’s latest treatment on the thorny topic of causal laws and necessity. Suitable for a specialist audience already familiar with Friedman’s work.

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                                                            • Kitcher, Philip. “The Unity of Science and the Unity of Nature.” In Kant and Contemporary Epistemology. Edited by Paolo Parrini, 253–272. University of Western Ontario Series in Philosophy of Science 54. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Kluwer Academic, 1994.

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                                                              This article further develops the take in Kitcher 1986 (cited under General Overviews) on systematic unity in Kant’s philosophy and its legacy for modern philosophy of science.

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                                                              • Kreines, James. “Kant on the Laws of Nature: Laws, Necessitation, and the Limitation of Our Knowledge.” European Journal of Philosophy 17.4 (2009): 527–558.

                                                                DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-0378.2008.00322.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                One of the best recent treatments of Kant’s view on laws. Suitable for graduate seminars.

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                                                                • Pollok, Konstantin. “‘The Understanding Prescribes Laws to Nature’: Spontaneity, Legislation, and Kant’s Transcendental Hylomorphism.” Kant-Studien 105.4 (2014): 509–530.

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                                                                  A sophisticated, advanced interpretive reading on Kant’s view on the lawfulness of nature. Suitable for a specialist audience.

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                                                                  • Watkins, Eric. “Kant on Transcendental Laws.” In Thinking about Causes: From Greek Philosophy to Modern Physics. Edited by Peter Machamer and Gereon Wolters, 100–122. Pittsburgh-Konstanz Series in the Philosophy and History of Science. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2007.

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                                                                    Excellent and clear introduction to the complex issue of the relation between transcendental laws of the understanding and empirical laws of nature, both in their historical context and modern legacy.

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                                                                    • Watkins, Eric. “What Is, for Kant, a Law of Nature?” Kant-Studien 105.4 (2014): 471–490.

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                                                                      A clear, accessible introduction to Kant’s unified and coherent view about what makes something a law of nature. Suitable for beginners.

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                                                                      Constitutive Principles of the Understanding and Empirical Laws

                                                                      Friedman 1992, O’Shea 1997, and Watkins 2010 are landmark readings to understand Kant’s notion of constitutive principles. Watkins 2001 and Watkins 2013 elaborate further on other kinds of laws Kant seemed committed to defend, and on the distinction between constitutive and regulative principles.

                                                                      • Friedman, Michael. “Regulative and Constitutive.” Southern Journal of Philosophy 30.S1 (1992): 73–102.

                                                                        DOI: 10.1111/j.2041-6962.1992.tb00658.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                        A classic introductory text to this key conceptual distinction in Kant’s philosophy.

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                                                                        • O’Shea, James R. “The Needs of Understanding: Kant on Empirical Laws and Regulative Ideals.” In Special Issue: Immanuel Kant. International Journal of Philosophical Studies 5.2 (1997): 216–254.

                                                                          DOI: 10.1080/09672559708570855Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                          Clear and accessible article that elaborates on the debate surrounding the constitutive demands of the faculty of understanding and the regulative nature of reason.

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                                                                          • Watkins, Eric. “Kant on Rational Cosmology.” In Kant and the Sciences. Edited by Eric Watkins, 70–89. New York: Oxford University Press, 2001.

                                                                            DOI: 10.1093/0195133056.003.0005Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                            An interesting study of Kant’s laws of rational cosmology across the first Critique and the lectures on metaphysics, with a focus on their historical sources. Advanced specialist reading.

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                                                                            • Watkins, Eric. “The System of Principles.” In The Cambridge Companion to Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason. Edited by Paul Guyer, 151–167. Cambridge Companions to Philosophy. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010.

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                                                                              Clear and accessible introduction to Kant’s architectonics for the faculty of understanding and its role for the lawfulness of nature.

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                                                                              • Watkins, Eric. “Kant on Infima Species.” In Kant und die Philosophie in weltbürgerlicher Absicht: Akten des XI. Internationalen Kant-kongresses. Vol. 5. Edited by Stefano Bacin, Alfredo Ferrarin, Claudio La Rocca and Margit Ruffing, 283–294. Berlin: de Gruyter, 2013.

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                                                                                Another specialist reading by a leading Kant scholar, with a focus on Kant’s logic and his take on systematicity as a regulative principle of reason.

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                                                                                Regulative Principles: Systematicity and Purposiveness

                                                                                Banham 2013, McLaughlin 2014, Guyer 1990, and Guyer 2003 all offer a very helpful introduction to the issue by mapping the terrain either in historical terms or in terms of Kant’s overall transcendental philosophy. Floyd 1998, Geiger 2003, Huneman 2007, and Grier 1997 provide different interpretive angles on the topic.

                                                                                • Banham, Gary. “Regulative Principles and Regulative Ideas.” In Kant und die Philosophie in weltbürgerlicher Absicht: Akten des XI. Internationalen Kant-kongresses. Vol. 2. Edited by Stefano Bacin, Alfredo Ferrarin, Claudio La Rocca, and Margit Ruffing, 15–24. Berlin: de Gruyter, 2013.

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                                                                                  Compares Kant’s use of “regulative” in Ideas of Pure Reason and in Analogies of Experience. Clear and helpful reading.

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                                                                                  • Floyd, Juliet. “Heautonomy: Kant on Reflective Judgment and Systematicity.” In Kant’s Ästhetik / Kant’s Aesthetics / L’esthétique de Kant. Edited by Herman Parret, 192–218. Berlin and New York: Walter de Gruyter, 1998.

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                                                                                    A classic article on the topic—ideal for graduate classes.

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                                                                                    • Geiger, Ido. “Is the Assumption of a Systematic Whole of Empirical Concepts a Necessary Condition of Knowledge?” Kant-Studien 94.3 (2003): 273–298.

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                                                                                      Another scholarly article suitable for advanced graduate seminars on the topic.

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                                                                                      • Grier, Michelle. “Kant on the Illusion of a Systematic Unity of Knowledge.” History of Philosophy Quarterly 14.1 (1997): 1–28.

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                                                                                        A landmark in the debate on systematic unity—specialist reading.

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                                                                                        • Guyer, Paul. “Reason and Reflective Judgment: Kant on the Significance of Systematicity.” Noûs 24.1 (1990): 17–43.

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                                                                                          This is a classic article that offers an interpretive explanation of why Kant came to reassign the regulative principle of systematicity from the faculty of reason (in the first Critique) to the faculty of reflective judgment (in the third Critique).

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                                                                                          • Guyer, Paul. “Kant on the Systematicity of Nature: Two Puzzles.” History of Philosophy Quarterly 20.3 (2003): 277–295.

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                                                                                            Elaborates on Guyer’s influential reading of the principle of systematicity.

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                                                                                            • Huneman, Philippe, ed. Understanding Purpose: Kant and the Philosophy of Biology. North American Kant Society Studies in Philosophy 8. Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press, 2007.

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                                                                                              Tackles Kant’s purposiveness within the broader context of the history of science and its philosophical legacy.

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                                                                                              • McLaughlin, Peter. “Transcendental Presuppositions and Ideas of Reason.” Kant-Studien 105.4 (2014): 554–572.

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                                                                                                Places Kant’s view on systematicity in his intellectual and historical context.

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                                                                                                Kant and the Laws of Physics

                                                                                                Kant’s view on the laws of physics is a fascinating and multifaceted topic. The following two subsections offer an overview on Laws in Mechanics and Kant’s Dynamical Theory of Matter and Chemistry. There are important differences between these two areas. While Kant clearly thought that there are laws in mechanics, he did not think that chemistry enjoyed the same degree of lawfulness as physics (indeed, in the Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science, he called chemistry a “systematic art” rather than a proper science). Hence, the two areas deserve separate treatments.

                                                                                                Laws in Mechanics

                                                                                                Massimi and De Bianchi 2013, Stan 2009, and Stan 2013 contextualize Kant’s view on the laws of mechanics in its historical-cultural milieu. Carrier 2001, Watkins 1997, Watkins 1998a, Watkins 1998b, and Watkins 2013 investigate the role of this kind of laws in Kant’s transcendental philosophy and engagement with Newtonian science.

                                                                                                • Carrier, Martin. “Kant’s Mechanical Determinations of Matter in the Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science.” In Kant and the Sciences. Edited by Eric Watkins, 117–135. New York: Oxford University Press, 2001.

                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1093/0195133056.003.0007Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                  Addresses key issues for Kant’s theory of matter in the Critical period.

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                                                                                                  • Massimi, Michela, and Silvia De Bianchi. “Cartesian Echoes in Kant’s Philosophy of Nature.” Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, Part A 44.3 (2013): 481–492.

                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1016/j.shpsa.2012.10.011Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                    A more historically focused article on the relation between mechanics and dynamics in Kant’s work.

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                                                                                                    • Stan, Marius. “Kant’s Early Theory of Motion: Metaphysical Dynamics and Relativity.” Leibniz Review 19 (2009): 29–61.

                                                                                                      DOI: 10.5840/leibniz2009192Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                      A historical overview on the sources behind Kant’s mechanics in the Pre-Critical period. Ideal for graduate students in history of science.

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                                                                                                      • Stan, Marius. “Kant’s Third Law of Mechanics: The Long Shadow of Leibniz.” Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, Part A 44.3 (2013): 493–504.

                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1016/j.shpsa.2012.10.014Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                        Thorough reconstruction of the historical development of Kant’s third law of mechanics. Advanced reading.

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                                                                                                        • Watkins, Eric. “The Laws of Motion from Newton to Kant.” Perspectives on Science 5.3 (1997): 311–348.

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                                                                                                          Argues that there are important differences between Kant’s laws of mechanics and Isaac Newton’s laws of motion, despite similarities and the temptation to read the former as a philosophical justification for the latter.

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                                                                                                          • Watkins, Eric. “The Argumentative Structure of Kant’s Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science.” Journal of the History of Philosophy 36.4 (1998a): 567–593.

                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1353/hph.2008.0871Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                            Offers a systematic reinterpretation of a standard received view that has long read Kant’s Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science against the background of Newtonian mechanics.

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                                                                                                            • Watkins, Eric. “Kant’s Justification of the Laws of Mechanics.” Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, Part A 29.4 (1998b): 539–560.

                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1016/S0039-3681(98)00042-9Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                              Detailed interpretive analysis of Kant’s three laws of mechanics in the Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science in their historical context of German (Leibnizian-Wolffian) philosophy. Recommended reading for anyone who wants to get a well-rounded view on Kant’s laws of mechanics.

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                                                                                                              • Watkins, Eric. “The Early Kant’s (Anti-) Newtonianism.” Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, Part A 44.3 (2013): 429–437.

                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1016/j.shpsa.2012.10.015Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                This latest paper elaborates and expands on Watkins’s interpretive take on Newton’s influence for Kant, with a focus on the Pre-Critical Kant of Universal Natural History.

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                                                                                                                Kant’s Dynamical Theory of Matter and Chemistry

                                                                                                                Both Förster 2000 and Edwards 2000 are detailed monographs that addresses Kant’s dynamical theory of matter in the context of Kant’s overall project. Massimi 2011 and Carrier 1990 draw attention to the historical context and background behind Kant’s theory of matter. Smith 2013a and Smith 2013b elaborate on metaphysical aspects of Kant’s view and its background sources, especially in response to Warren 2010, an influential reading.

                                                                                                                • Carrier, Martin. “Kants Theorie der Materie und ihre Wirkung auf die zeitgenössische Chemie.” Kant-Studien 81.2 (1990): 170–210.

                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1515/kant.1990.81.2.170Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                  An important contribution to the understanding of Kant’s controversial take on chemistry as a “systematic art.”

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                                                                                                                  • Edwards, Jeffrey. Substance, Force, and the Possibility of Knowledge: On Kant’s Philosophy of Material Nature. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000.

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                                                                                                                    Tracks the development of Kant’s dynamical theory of matter from the Pre-Critical period, through the Critical period and the Opus postumum.

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                                                                                                                    • Förster, Eckart. Kant’s Final Synthesis: An Essay on the Opus postumum. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2000.

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                                                                                                                      Excellent introductory book on the Opus postumum. Particularly relevant is chapter 4, on the ether proof and its overall role in Kant’s late view on chemistry.

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                                                                                                                      • Massimi, Michela. “Kant’s Dynamical Theory of Matter in 1755, and Its Debt to Speculative Newtonian Experimentalism.” Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, Part A 42.4 (2011): 525–543.

                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1016/j.shpsa.2011.09.008Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                        Traces the origins of Kant’s matter theory in the British and Dutch Newtonianism of the early 18th century. Suitable for students in history and philosophy of science.

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                                                                                                                        • Schönfeld, Martin. “Kant’s Early Dynamics.” In A Companion to Kant. Edited by Graham Bird, 33–46. Blackwell Companions to Philosophy 36. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2006.

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                                                                                                                          Schönfeld provides a very readable overview on the topic—suitable for undergraduate students.

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                                                                                                                          • Smith, Sheldon R. “Does Kant Have a Pre-Newtonian Picture of Force in the Balance Argument? An Account of How the Balance Argument Works.” Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, Part A 44.3 (2013a): 470–480.

                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1016/j.shpsa.2012.10.013Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                            This is a response to Warren 2010 on the topic.

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                                                                                                                            • Smith, Sheldon R. “Kant’s Picture of Monads in the Physical Monadology.” Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, Part A 44.1 (2013b): 102–111.

                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1016/j.shpsa.2012.12.006Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                              Sophisticated interpretive reading of Kant’s metaphysics of nature—advanced reading.

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                                                                                                                              • Warren, Daniel. “Kant on Attractive and Repulsive Force: The Balancing Argument.” In Discourse on a New Method: Reinvigorating the Marriage of History and Philosophy of Science. Edited by Mary Domski and Michael Dickson, 193–241. Chicago and La Salle, IL: Open Court, 2010.

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                                                                                                                                Sustained critical study on Kant’s main argument for dynamics in the Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science. Recommended reading.

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                                                                                                                                Kant and the Laws of the Life Sciences

                                                                                                                                Kant’s view on the laws of the life sciences differs in remarkable ways from his view on the laws in the physical sciences. In this section, some classic resources for the Historical Background of Kant’s view on biology can be found. In addition, the reader will also find a selection of texts that tackle more directly both the issue of what is an organism for Kant, and the further issue of how explanations in the life sciences differ from mechanical explanations in the physical sciences (Organisms and Purposiveness).

                                                                                                                                Historical Background

                                                                                                                                Wilson 2006 and Sloan 2006 place Kant’s view in its historical context and background sources. Richards 2000 and Zammito 2012 offer responses to Lenoir 1980, an influential reading of the relationship between Kant and Johann Friedrich Blumenbach.

                                                                                                                                • Lenoir, Timothy. “Kant, Blumenbach, and Vital Materialism in German Biology.” Isis 71.1 (1980): 77–108.

                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1086/352408Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                  Influential (albeit controversial) historical analysis on the reciprocal influence between Kant’s view of organic form in the third Critique, and the anthropologist Blumenbach’s view on natural history.

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                                                                                                                                  • Richards, Robert J. “Kant and Blumenbach on the Bildungstrieb: A Historical Misunderstanding.” Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 31.1 (2000): 11–32.

                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1016/S1369-8486(99)00042-4Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                    Influential critical reading of the alleged reciprocal influence of Kant and Blumenbach. Ideal for advanced graduate seminars in history of science.

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                                                                                                                                    • Sloan, Phillip R. “Kant on the History of Nature: The Ambiguous Heritage of the Critical Philosophy for Natural History.” In Special Issue: Kantian Teleology and the Biological Sciences. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 37.4 (2006): 627–648.

                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1016/j.shpsc.2006.09.003Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                      Methodological analysis of Kant’s natural history in its historical context.

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                                                                                                                                      • Wilson, Catherine. “Kant and the Speculative Sciences of Origins.” In The Problem of Animal Generation in Early Modern Philosophy. Edited by Justin E. H. Smith, 375–401. Cambridge Studies in Philosophy and Biology. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2006.

                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511498572.017Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                        Fascinating historical journey through Kant’s view of organic evolution.

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                                                                                                                                        • Zammito, John H. “The Lenoir Thesis Revisited: Blumenbach and Kant.” In Special Section: On Nature and Normativity: Normativity, Teleology, and Mechanism in Biological Explanation. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 43.1 (2012): 120–132.

                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1016/j.shpsc.2011.05.011Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                          Critical evaluation of Lenoir 1980, suggesting a reappraisal of the Kant-Blumenbach relationship and its overall influence on the German life sciences of the end of the 18th century.

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                                                                                                                                          Organisms and Purposiveness

                                                                                                                                          Goy and Watkins 2014 is an authoritative edited collection on the topic. Ginsborg 2015 and Zuckert 2007 tackle the issue of purposiveness in the broader context of Kant’s overall project in the third Critique. McLaughlin 1990, Mensch 2013, and Quarfood 2004 offer comprehensive treatments of Kant’s view on organisms. Breitenbach 2009 and Breitenbach 2014 display an interpretive take on Kant’s view of living organisms and its ongoing relevance.

                                                                                                                                          • Breitenbach, Angela. Die Analogie von Vernunft und Natur: Eine Umweltphilosophie nach Kant. Kantstudien 159. Berlin and New York: de Gruyter, 2009.

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                                                                                                                                            Systematic and comprehensive study of Kant’s philosophy of biological phenomena.

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                                                                                                                                            • Breitenbach, Angela. “Biological Purposiveness and Analogical Reflection.” In Kant’s Theory of Biology. Edited by Ina Goy and Eric Watkins, 131–148. Berlin: de Gruyter, 2014.

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                                                                                                                                              Tackles the nature of teleological judgments in the third Critique and biological purposiveness for the study of living organisms.

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                                                                                                                                              • Ginsborg, Hannah. The Normativity of Nature: Essays on Kant’s Critique of Judgement. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015.

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                                                                                                                                                Authoritative collection of essays by Ginsborg. Particularly relevant is Part III, on teleology, biological purposiveness, and organisms in Kant’s third Critique.

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                                                                                                                                                • Goy, Ina, and Eric Watkins, eds. Kant’s Theory of Biology. Berlin: de Gruyter, 2014.

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                                                                                                                                                  State-of-the-art collection in the area—recommended reading for advanced graduate seminars in the field.

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                                                                                                                                                  • McLaughlin, Peter. Kant’s Critique of Teleology in Biological Explanation: Antinomy and Teleology. Studies in the History of Philosophy 16. Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen, 1990.

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                                                                                                                                                    A classic book in the field, recommended as advanced undergraduate reading.

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                                                                                                                                                    • Mensch, Jennifer. Kant’s Organicism: Epigenesis and the Development of Critical Philosophy. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2013.

                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226022031.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                      Interpretive take on Kant’s critical philosophy through the lenses of the history and philosophy of the life sciences of his time. Advanced reading.

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                                                                                                                                                      • Quarfood, Marcel. Transcendental Idealism and the Organism: Essays on Kant. Acta Universitatis Stockholmiensis: Stockholm Studies in Philosophy 26. Stockholm: Almquist & Wiksell, 2004.

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                                                                                                                                                        Collection of essays tackling issues about biological functions and teleological judgments within the broader methodological framework of Kant’s critical philosophy.

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                                                                                                                                                        • Zuckert, Rachel. Kant on Beauty and Biology: An Interpretation of the Critique of Judgement. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2007.

                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511487323Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                          A classic monograph on the unity and continuity between aesthetic judgment and teleological judgment in Kant’s third Critique.

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                                                                                                                                                          Teleological Explanation versus Mechanical Explanation

                                                                                                                                                          McLaughlin 2003, McLaughlin 2014, Watkins 2009, and Watkins 2014 are very helpful in mapping the ground on this important distinction. Ginsborg 2004 contrasts Kant’s view with some influential preceding views on the topic. Breitenbach 2006, Breitenbach 2008, and Breitenbach 2009 are particularly pertinent to explore the ongoing relevance of Kant’s view for modern philosophy of biology.

                                                                                                                                                          • Breitenbach, Angela. “Mechanical Explanation of Nature and Its Limits in Kant’s Critique of Judgment.” In Special Issue: Kantian Teleology and the Biological Sciences. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Science 37.4 (2006): 694–711.

                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1016/j.shpsc.2006.09.001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                            Analyzes the notion of mechanical explanation in Kant’s third Critique and argues that the prospects for mechanical explanation are limited.

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                                                                                                                                                            • Breitenbach, Angela. “Two Views on Nature: A Solution to Kant’s Antinomy of Mechanism and Teleology.” British Journal for the History of Philosophy 16.2 (2008): 351–369.

                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1080/09608780801969167Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                              Discusses the conflict between mechanism and teleology in Kant’s philosophy and why the principle of purposiveness of nature can only be a regulative principle, not a constitutive one.

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                                                                                                                                                              • Breitenbach, Angela. “Teleology in Biology: A Kantian Perspective.” Kant Yearbook 1 (2009): 31–56.

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                                                                                                                                                                Examines the legacy of Kant’s take on purposiveness for ongoing discussions in biology.

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                                                                                                                                                                • Ginsborg, Hannah. “Two Kinds of Mechanical Inexplicability in Kant and Aristotle.” Journal of the History of Philosophy 42.1 (2004): 33–65.

                                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1353/hph.2004.0005Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                  Traces the intellectual history and open problems for Kant’s view on mechanical explanation.

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                                                                                                                                                                  • McLaughlin, Peter. “Newtonian Biology and Kant’s Mechanistic Concept of Causality.” In Kant’s Critique of the Power of Judgment: Critical Essays. Edited by Paul Guyer, 209–218. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2003.

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                                                                                                                                                                    Argues that mechanism should be understood in Kant’s view as a form of causality and that mechanical laws are a subset of causal laws.

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                                                                                                                                                                    • McLaughlin, Peter. “Mechanical Explanation in the ‘Critique of the Teleological Power of Judgment.’” In Kant’s Theory of Biology. Edited by Ina Goy and Eric Watkins, 149–166. Berlin: de Gruyter, 2014.

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                                                                                                                                                                      Dissects different meanings for mechanical laws in the third Critique and defends the view that mechanical laws should be understood along the lines of mechanical part-whole interactions.

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                                                                                                                                                                      • Watkins, Eric. “The Antinomy of Teleological Judgment.” Kant Yearbook 1 (2009): 197–221.

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                                                                                                                                                                        Discusses the origins of the antinomy of teleological judgment and argues for the philosophical inadequacy of various interpretations of it.

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                                                                                                                                                                        • Watkins, Eric. “Nature in General as a System of Ends.” In Kant’s Theory of Biology. Edited by Ina Goy and Eric Watkins, 117–130. Berlin: de Gruyter, 2014.

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                                                                                                                                                                          Extends Kant’s view on teleological judgments beyond organisms, as applying to nature in general.

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