Kant's Argument for the Principle of Intensive Magnitudes

Kantian Review 18 (3):387-412 (2013)
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In the first Critique, Kant attempts to prove what we can call the "Principle of Intensive Magnitudes," according to which every possible object of experience will possess a determinate "degree" of reality. Curiously, Kant argues for this principle by inferring from a psychological premise about internal sensations (they have intensive magnitudes) to a metaphysical thesis about external objects (they also have intensive magnitudes). Most commentators dismiss the argument as a failure. In this article I give a reconstruction of Kant's argument that attempts to rehabilitate the argument back into his broader transcendental theory of experience. I argue that we can make sense of the argument's central inference by appeal to Kant's theory of empirical intuition and by an analysis of the way in which Kant thinks sensory matter constitutes our most basic representations of objects.

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Tim Jankowiak
Towson University


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