Universality, Necessity, and Law in General

Despite the close links Kant’s Critical philosophy frequently draws between the notions of universality, necessity, and law, he also makes many distinctions between strict and looser understandings of these terms, although he also often fails to do so in an explicit way. As a consequence, many well-known objections to his philosophy have arisen, objections that often can be rebutted by noting ways in which the context of Kant’s arguments reveals that he does not mean to be using a sense of “universality,” or “necessity,” or “law” that leads to the absurd consequences that many interpreters have assumed. One can appreciate this point best by comparing passages across a wide range of Kant’s work, not only in the first Critique but also throughout many texts concerning practical philosophy, and understanding these texts properly can assist in defending some of the more controversial claims he makes with respect to natural science and its methodology.

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