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Philosophische Zeitschrift der Kant-Gesellschaft

Ed. by Baum, Manfred / Dörflinger, Bernd / Klemme, Heiner F.

CiteScore 2017: 0.31

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2017: 0.262
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2017: 0.596

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Volume 102, Issue 1


Kant and Whewell on Bridging Principles between Metaphysics and Science

Steffen Ducheyne
  • *Postdoctoral Research Fellow of the Research Foundation (FWO–Vlaanderen) and is associated with the Centre for Logic and Philosophy of Science at Ghent University (Blandijnberg 2, B–9000 Ghent, Belgium).
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Published Online: 2011-05-31 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/kant.2011.002


In this essay, I call attention to Kant's and Whewell's attempt to provide bridging principles between a priori principles and scientific laws. Part of Kant's aim in the Opus postumum (ca. 1796–1803) was precisely to bridge the gap between the metaphysical foundations of natural science and physics by establishing intermediary concepts or ‘Mittelbegriffe’ (henceforth this problem is referred to as ‘the bridging-problem’). It will be argued, on the basis of a close reading of Whewell's Notebooks on Induction, that Whewell's account of the Idea of Cause (and by extension, his doctrine of Fundamental Ideas in general) grew out of his dissatisfaction with Kantian philosophy of science and its seeming inability to solve the bridging-problem. This analysis throws new light on the importance of Kantianism in Whewell's philosophy, for it will be shown that Whewell took over and transformed Kant's idea of a priori principles as conditions for the establishment of proper knowledge about the world (without always clinging to Kant's exact differentiation between them) and that Whewell was trying to address a typical Kantian topic: namely, to show how scientific knowledge could be both empirical and necessary and how the gap between metaphysics and physics could be bridged.

Keywords.: W. Whewell's Kantianism; W. Whewell's Trinity Notebooks on induction; post-critical Kant; Bridging principles between metaphysics and science

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Published Online: 2011-05-31

Published in Print: 2011-04-01

Citation Information: Kant-Studien, Volume 102, Issue 1, Pages 22–45, ISSN (Online) 1613-1134, ISSN (Print) 0022-8877, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/kant.2011.002.

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