Course level: Graduate

Fall 2017
University of Notre Dame

Deeply interested in the scientific developments of his time, Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) powerfully defended the Enlightenment values of reason, science, and freedom, and decisively shaped the debates of philosophers and scientists in his own time and continuously up to the present. Throughout his life, Kant sought to provide a philosophy that is adequate to the sciences of his time – especially to Euclidean geometry and Newtonian physics, but – as we will see – also to chemistry, biology, psychology, and anthropology.

In this course, we will investigate issues in Kant’s philosophy of science, including laws of nature, criteria of scientificity, types of scientific explanation (mechanical and teleological), scientific methods and aims, the guiding principles of systematicity, and the systematic unity of the sciences. Our discussions will be based on a close reading of central passages from the Critique of Pure Reason (1781/87), the Metaphysical Foundations of Nature Science (1786), and the Critique of the Power of Judgment (1790), as well as of texts by Kant-inspired philosophers from the 19th and 20th century. Examining Kant’s thought will shed new light on philosophical issues that are still relevant for today’s sciences.

This class was cross-listed for the PhD Program in History and Philosophy of Science.