Transcendental Arguments, Conceivability, and Global Vs. Local Skepticism

Philosophia 45 (2):735-749 (2017)
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In this paper, I argue that, if transcendental arguments are to proceed from premises that are acceptable to the skeptic, the Transcendental Premise, according to which “X is a metaphysically necessary condition for the possibility of Y,” must be grounded in considerations of conceivability and possibility. More explicitly, the Transcendental Premise is based on what Szabó Gendler and Hawthorne call the “conceivability-possibility move.” This “inconceivability-impossibility” move, however, is a problematic argumentative move when advancing transcendental arguments for the following reasons. First, from “S cannot conceive of P” it doesn’t necessarily follow that P is inconceivable. Second, from “P is inconceivable” it doesn’t necessarily follow that P is metaphysically impossible. Third, rather than block skeptical doubts, the conceivability-possibility move introduces skeptical doubts. For these reasons, transcendental arguments fail to deliver on their promise to overcome skeptical doubts.
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