Article ID: CBB741692479

Kant and Experimental Philosophy (2017)


While Kant introduces his critical philosophy in continuity with the experimental tradition begun by Francis Bacon, it is widely accepted that his Copernican revolution places experimental physics outside the bounds of science. Yet scholars have recently contested this view. They argue that in Critique of the Power of Judgment Kant’s engagement with the growing influence of vitalism in the 1780s leads to an account of nature’s formative power that returns experimental physics within scientific parameters. Several critics are sceptical of this revised reading. They argue that Kant’s third Critique serves precisely to deflate the epistemological status of experimental physics, thereby protecting science from the threat of vitalism. In this paper I examine Kant’s account of science in the context of the experimental tradition of philosophy, particularly in relation to the generation dilemma of the eighteenth century. I argue that Kant does not deflate the epistemological status of experimental physics but rather introduces systematicity to the experimental tradition. By identifying the reflective use of reason to organize laws of experience into a systematic whole, Kant aims to ground experimental inquiry on the secure course of a science, opening a conception of science as a research programme.

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Authors & Contributors
Shaw, Jamie
Orozco-Echeverri, Sergio H.
Molina-Betancur, Sebastián
Beisbart, Claus
Williams, Jessica J.
Pecere, Paolo
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Science in Context
Notes and Records: The Royal Society Journal of the History of Science
Kwartalnik Historii Nauki i Techniki
History of Science
Oxford University Press
University of Notre Dame
Prometheus Books
University of Pennsylvania
Methodology of science; scientific method
Philosophy of science
Senses and sensation; perception
Kant, Immanuel
Humboldt, Alexander von
Bacon, Francis, 1st Baron Verulam
Haller, Albrecht von
Popper, Karl Raimund
Mutis, José Celestino
Time Periods
18th century
19th century
Early modern
New Granada (Spanish colony)
Université de Montpellier

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