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Kant and experimental philosophy

Cooper, A; (2017) Kant and experimental philosophy. British Journal for the History of Philosophy , 25 (2) pp. 265-286. 10.1080/09608788.2016.1268996. Green open access

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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.

Type: Article
Title: Kant and experimental philosophy
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1080/09608788.2016.1268996
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1080/09608788.2016.1268996
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Immanuel Kant, experimental philosophy, Critique of the Power of Judgment, Georges Buffon, Francis Bacon, Carl Linnaeus
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1572955
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