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Title: From middle to minor : ambiguity and validity in Kant's Paralogisms
Author: Brown, James R.
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2018
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In the Paralogisms, Kant denounces the arguments of rational psychology as paralogisms, fallacious syllogisms with a transcendental ground. The First Paralogism, he claims, exemplifies the fallacy found in all the Paralogisms. The First Paralogism: That which can be thought only as subject is substance. I, as thinking being (soul), can be thought only as subject. Therefore, I, as thinking being (soul), am substance. The argument looks like a syllogism: All G are H. All F are G. Therefore, all F are H. Where is the fallacy? Kant’s argument is often interpreted as follows (what I will call Kant’s ‘little’ argument): The middle term (‘G’) is ambiguous. Therefore, the Paralogisms are invalid. My main goal, here, is to challenge this interpretation. The middle term of the First Paralogism (‘that which can be thought only as subject’)is ambiguous: in the major premise, it is used transcendentally; in the minor premise,it is used empirically. I will argue, first, that if its empirical use entails its transcendental use, then the First Paralogism, despite having an ambiguous middle term, is materially valid; and that if the entailment is made explicit (as an additional premise), then it (an expanded version, at least) is also formally valid. I will argue,then, that the empirical use does indeed entail the transcendental use. So, Kant’s little argument does not capture the fallacy in the First Paralogism. I will suggest that the source of the misinterpretation is a mistranslation by Norman Kemp Smith. But, the First Paralogism is invalid; it is even invalid due to an ambiguous term, just not the middle term. I will argue that the real culprit is the minor term, ‘I, as thinking being (soul)’; and that the invalidity of the Paralogisms thus turns on nothing more than the difference between thought and knowledge.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: BC Logic