Kant on 'the cosmological argument'

In Ina Goy (ed.), Kant on Proofs for God's Existence. Boston: De Gruyter (2023)
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Abstract

In this paper, I examine Kant’s discussion of ‘the cosmological argument’ in The Critique of Pure Reason, Transcendental Doctrine of Elements, Second Part, Second Division, Book 2, Chapter Three, Section Five (‘The Impossibility of a Cosmological Proof of the Existence of God’). While there are other places where Kant provides related discussions of ‘the cosmological argument’—e.g. in The Only Possible Argument in Support of a Demonstration of the Existence of God, Lectures on Philosophical Theology, and Religion within the Limits of Reason Alone—I do not attempt to consider any of these further works in this paper. First, I argue that it is not true that cosmological arguments depend upon ontological arguments, and that Kant is simply mistaken when he argues that ‘the cosmological argument’ ‘assumes’ ‘the ontological argument’. Second, I argue that Kant does not provide a compelling critique of cosmological arguments to the conclusion that there is an absolutely necessary being.

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Graham Oppy
Monash University

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