Kant and Skepticism

Kant and Skepticism

by Michael N. Forster

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Overview

This book puts forward a much-needed reappraisal of Immanuel Kant's conception of and response to skepticism, as set forth principally in the Critique of Pure Reason. It is widely recognized that Kant's theoretical philosophy aims to answer skepticism and reform metaphysics—Michael Forster makes the controversial argument that those aims are closely linked. He distinguishes among three types of skepticism: "veil of perception" skepticism, which concerns the external world; Humean skepticism, which concerns the existence of a priori concepts and synthetic a priori knowledge; and Pyrrhonian skepticism, which concerns the equal balance of opposing arguments. Forster overturns conventional views by showing how the first of these types was of little importance for Kant, but how the second and third held very special importance for him, namely because of their bearing on the fate of metaphysics. He argues that Kant undertook his reform of metaphysics primarily in order to render it defensible against these types of skepticism. Finally, in a critical appraisal of Kant's project, Forster argues that, despite its strengths, it ultimately fails, for reasons that carry interesting broader philosophical lessons. These reasons include inadequate self-reflection and an underestimation of the resources of Pyrrhonian skepticism.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780691146515
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Publication date: 06/06/2010
Series: Princeton Monographs in Philosophy , #32
Pages: 168
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Michael N. Forster is professor of philosophy at the University of Chicago. His books include Wittgenstein on the Arbitrariness of Grammar (Princeton), Hegel's Idea of a Phenomenology of Spirit, and Hegel and Skepticism.

Table of Contents

Preface ix

PART I : EXPOSITION

CHAPTER ONE: Varieties of Skepticism 3

CHAPTER TWO: "Veil of Perception" Skepticism 6

CHAPTER THREE: Skepticism and Metaphysics (a Puzzle) 13

CHAPTER FOUR: Kant's Pyrrhonian Crisis 16

CHAPTER FIVE: Humean Skepticism 21

CHAPTER SIX: Kant's Reformed Metaphysics 33

CHAPTER SEVEN: Defenses against Humean Skepticism 40

CHAPTER EIGHT: Defenses against Pyrrhonian Skepticism 44

PART II : CRITICAL ASSESSMENT

CHAPTER NINE: Some Relatively Easy Problems 55

CHAPTER TEN: A Metaphysics of Morals? 58

CHAPTER ELEVEN: Failures of Self-Reflection 63

CHAPTER TWELVE: The Pyrrhonist's Revenge 76

Notes 93

Index 149

What People are Saying About This

Michael Inwood

I found this book rather gripping. It outlines several varieties of skepticism, considers the role that each plays in Kant's thought, and analyzes his responses to them. The scholarship is impeccable. I know of no other book on this theme.
Michael Inwood, University of Oxford

Beatrice Longuenesse

This book gives a clear and lucid account of Kant's relation to skepticism, both in its historical development and in its systematic import. Forster connects Kant's views to contemporary discussions even while avoiding the pitfalls of anachronism. The confidence with which he traces the various strands of skepticism in the history of philosophy as well as Kant's responses to them is remarkable.
Beatrice Longuenesse, New York University

From the Publisher

"This book gives a clear and lucid account of Kant's relation to skepticism, both in its historical development and in its systematic import. Forster connects Kant's views to contemporary discussions even while avoiding the pitfalls of anachronism. The confidence with which he traces the various strands of skepticism in the history of philosophy as well as Kant's responses to them is remarkable."—Béatrice Longuenesse, New York University

"I found this book rather gripping. It outlines several varieties of skepticism, considers the role that each plays in Kant's thought, and analyzes his responses to them. The scholarship is impeccable. I know of no other book on this theme."—Michael Inwood, University of Oxford

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