Kant's Theory of Scientific Hypotheses in its Historical Context

Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 92:12-19 (2022)
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Abstract

This paper analyzes the historical context and systematic importance of Kant's hypothetical use of reason. It does so by investigating the role of hypotheses in Kant's philosophy of science. We first situate Kant’s account of hypotheses in the context of eighteenth-century German philosophy of science, focusing on the works of Wolff, Meier, and Crusius. We contrast different conceptions of hypotheses of these authors and elucidate the different theories of probability informing them. We then adopt a more systematic perspective to discuss Kant's idea that scientific hypotheses must articulate real possibilities. We argue that Kant's views on the intelligibility of scientific hypotheses constitute a valuable perspective on scientific understanding and the constraints it imposes on scientific rationality.

Author Profiles

Hein Van Den Berg
University of Amsterdam
Boris Demarest
University of Amsterdam

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