Kant's Antinomy of Reflective Judgment: A Re-evaluation

Teorema: International Journal of Philosophy 23 (1):183 (2004)
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The aim of this paper is to show that there is a genuine difficulty in Kant’s argument regarding the connection between mechanism and teleology. But this difficulty is not the one that is usually underlined. Far from consisting in a contradiction between the first and the third Critique, I argue that the genuine difficulty is intrinsic to the antinomy of reflective judgement: rather than having any hope of resolving anything, it consists in an inescapable conflict. In order to support this claim, I show firstly why converting the thesis of the antinomy about mechanism into reflective judgement does not require renunciation of the universality of causality demonstrated in the first Critique. Then, I suggest that the actual difficulty with Kant’s argument is that there is a genuine conflict inherent in the reflective form of the antinomy. Finally, I examine in detail the antinomy of reflective judgement and compare it to the other Kantian antinomies in order to show that its uniqueness makes it uniquely troubling. This leads me to conclude that the Kantian resolution of the conflict between mechanism and teleology is unsatisfactory.

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Alix Cohen
University of Edinburgh


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