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Title: Constitutive or regulative principles? : the Kantian legacy for contemporary philosophy of science
Author: Everett, J. J.
ISNI:       0000 0004 5354 0190
Awarding Body: University College London (University of London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2014
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Kant’s philosophy of science is often taken to be straightforwardly refuted by the development of modern science and mathematics. I identify two ways in which key Kantian insights can be defended in contemporary physics: the first—associated with Michael Friedman—emphasises the role of constitutive principles in Kant’s philosophy and the second—associated with Ernst Cassirer—emphasises the role of regulative principles. I argue that the regulative approach of Cassirer is the more promising. I identify two challenges that a Kantian philosophy of science must meet in order to be deemed plausible: (CR) it must provide an account of the rationality of theory change and (CC) it must make sense of the central Kantian idea of constitutivity. I use these challenges to gauge the success of constitutive and regulative approaches throughout. In §1 I introduce Friedman’s constitutive approach. His answers to CR and CC are examined. I outline the role of philosophy in Friedman’s answer to CR and stress the importance for Friedman of defending the syntheticity of the relativized a priori. In §2 I detail the origins of constitutive and regulative principles in Kant’s philosophy of science. It is emphasised that for Kant, both types of principle are essential to the possibility of science. In §3 I introduce Cassirer’s regulative approach. The regulative approach is defended from Friedman’s objection that it cannot provide an account of the prospective rationality of theory change. Cassirer’s understanding of the constitutive and regulative a priori are distinguished. Cassirer’s structuralism is introduced. In §4 I provide a case study of the role of the equivalence principle in the development of general relativity. A regulative Kantian answer to CR is defended. In §5 I defend Cassirer’s answer to CC as a plausible contemporary alternative to ontic structural realism.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available