Eric Watkins

in The Oxford Handbook of Causation

Published in print November 2009 | ISBN: 9780199279739
Published online January 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191577246 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy


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Kant's views on causality have long been of interest to philosophers as promising an alternative to Hume's empiricist account without thereby falling back into a strictly or straightforwardly rationalist position. Slightly more specifically, Kant holds that a causal principle according to which every event has a cause, or follows according to a causal law, cannot be established through induction as a purely empirical claim, since it would then lack strict universality, or necessity. This article briefly describes the historical context in which Kant develops his account of causality, and then clarifies some central features pertaining to the meaning, justification, and presuppositions of the claims that form the heart of this account before concluding with a brief sketch of how his views on causality are incorporated into his views in physics and biology. Accordingly, the article discusses Kant's views on causality in his pre-Critical period.

Keywords: causality; Kant; causal principle; causal law; strict universality; justification

Article.  7091 words. 

Subjects: Metaphysics ; History of Western Philosophy

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