The Objects and the Formal Truth of Kantian Analytic Judgments

History of Philosophy Quarterly 30 (2):177-93 (2013)
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I defend the thesis that Kantian analytic judgments are about objects (as opposed to concepts) against two challenges raised by recent scholars. First, can it accommodate cases like “A two-sided polygon is two-sided”, where no object really falls under the subject-concept as Kant sees it? Second, is it compatible with Kant’s view that analytic judgments make no claims about objects in the world and that we can know them to be true without going beyond the given concepts? I address these challenges in two steps. First, given Kant’s distinction between an object in general = x from an object of sensible intuition, I argue that analytic judgments are about objects in the former sense, no matter whether the purported objects can be given in our intuition. Second, using Kant’s method of representing certain logical relations of concepts with such figures as circles, I construct a model to show that analytic truths are truths about objects in general = x and yet can be determined solely by the intensional relation between the given concepts plus certain Kantian-logical laws. Analytic truths are thus shown as formal in the Kantian sense that they do not presuppose the purported objects as givable in our intuition. This account of the formality of analytic truths captures Kant’s diagnosis of the Leibnizian illusion that we can make material claims about the world by analytically true judgments.

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Huaping Lu-Adler
Georgetown University


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