“Kant’s Response to Hume in the Second Analogy: A Critique of Buchdahl’s and Friedman’s Accounts”

Saniye Vatansever (Yeditepe, Philosophy)

Wednesday 20th December, 2017, 1640-1745, H-232


Abstract: While commentators mostly agree that in the Second Analogy Kant responds to the “Humean problem,” there is not yet an agreement on exactly which Humean problem he aims to solve. L.W. Beck, Gerd Buchdahl, Graham Bird and Henry Allison, among others, argue that the Second Analogy addresses Hume’s “problem of causation,” which is a problem concerning the justification of the concept of causation and the Causal Principle. In this paper, I focus particularly on Buchdahl’s interpretation of the Second Analogy, to which I refer as the “modest reading” because on his reading the Second Analogy has a modest goal of solving only Hume’s problem of causation. In response to Buchdahl’s modest reading,Michael Friedman, among others, argues for the “strong reading” of the Second Analogy, according to which Kant addresses not only Hume’s problem of causation, but also the problem of induction. The problem of induction is a problem about the validity of inductive inferences and a satisfactory solution to it requires demonstration of the validity of the principle of the uniformity of nature.In contrast with Buchdahl’s and Friedman’s influential readings, which view the Second Analogy as addressing one or the other of the Humean problems, I argue that the Second Analogy achieves more than addressing the problem of causation,and yet falls short of solving the problem of induction. The alternative reading I offer consists of the following three theses (i) contra Buchdahl, the Second Analogy argument proves both the necessity of the Causal Principle and the existence of its particular determinations, i.e., necessary empirical causal laws; (ii) contra Buchdahl and Friedman, empirical laws express two different kinds of necessity that are not reducible to each other; and finally, (iii) contra Friedman,even though the Second Analogy proves the existence of (necessary and strictly universal) empirical laws, it does not establish the uniformity of nature, which in turn means that the Second Analogy argument does not solve Hume’s problem of induction.