Modal motivations for noumenal ignorance: Knowledge, cognition, and coherence

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26 Scopus citations


My goal in this paper is to show that Kant's prohibition on certain kinds of knowledge of things-in-themselves is motivated less by his anti-soporific encounter with Hume than by his new view of the distinction between "real" and "logical" modality, a view that developed out of his reflection on the rationalist tradition in which he was trained. In brief: at some point in the 1770's, Kant came to hold that a necessary condition on knowing a proposition is that one be able to prove that all the items it refers to are either really possible or really impossible. Most propositions about things-in-themselves, in turns out, cannot meet this condition. I conclude by suggesting that the best interpretation of this modal condition is as a kind of coherentist constraint.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)573-597
Number of pages25
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2014
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Philosophy


  • Cognition
  • Coherence
  • Empirical Laws
  • Knowledge
  • Modality
  • Real Possibility


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