Off-campus UMass Amherst users: To download dissertations, please use the following link to log into our proxy server with your UMass Amherst user name and password.
Non-UMass Amherst users, please click the view more button below to purchase a copy of this dissertation from Proquest.
(Some titles may also be available free of charge in our Open Access Dissertation Collection, so please check there first.)
Transcendental arguments and Kant's refutation of idealism
An anti-skeptical transcendental argument can be loosely defined as an argument that purports to show that some experience or knowledge of an external world is a necessary condition of our possession of some knowledge, concept, or cognitive ability that we know we have. In this dissertation I examine transcendental arguments by focusing on one such argument given by Immanuel Kant in his Critique of Pure Reason, along with some attempts to interpret that argument by contemporary commentators. ^ I proceed by dividing anti-skeptical transcendental arguments into three types: epistemological, verificationist, and psychological. I examine arguments of the first two types (themselves often described as ‘Kantian’) and show why they cannot succeed against the skeptic. I then argue that Kant's Refutation of Idealism is of a different type: it is psychological in that it concerns the necessary conditions of our forming beliefs of certain kinds. Many contemporary Kant scholars have claimed that his anti-skeptical strategy relies on phenomenalism or verificationism; I argue, however, that Kant in the Refutation employs a clever and hitherto unappreciated strategy which involves an empiricist principle concerning the origin of simple ideas, and which does not require either phenomenalism or verificationism. I conclude with an analysis and assessment of Kant's argument. ^
"Transcendental arguments and Kant's refutation of idealism"
(January 1, 1999).
Electronic Doctoral Dissertations for UMass Amherst.