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Scientific Metaphysics$
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Don Ross, James Ladyman, and Harold Kincaid

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199696499

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199696499.001.0001

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Neo-Kantianism, Scientific Realism, and Modern Physics

Neo-Kantianism, Scientific Realism, and Modern Physics

Chapter:
(p.182) 8 Neo-Kantianism, Scientific Realism, and Modern Physics
Source:
Scientific Metaphysics
Author(s):

Michael Friedman

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199696499.003.0008

Kant’s original philosophical project took Euclidean geometry and Newtonian mechanics as synthetic a priori sciences fixed for all time. Developments in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century science made this view untenable, but a number of neo-Kantian philosophers responded by relativizing the conception of a priori principles to the historical development of mathematics and physics after Kant. Friedman’s conception of a dynamics of reason follows this tradition. Mark Wilson has addressed many of these same post-Kantian developments on behalf of a sophisticated version of scientific realism inspired by the earlier work of Hilary Putnam, and Wilson has expressed dissatisfaction with the ‘ersatz’ conceptions of scientific objectivity characteristic of neo-Kantianism. This chapter argues that Wilson’s and Friedman’s approaches can be seen as complementary rather than incompatible, responding to different but equally important aspects of the historical development of modern physics from Newton to the early twentieth century.

Keywords:   Kant, Newton, neo-Kantianism, relativized a priori, dynamics of reason, Mark Wilson, scientific realism, scientific objectivity, modern physics

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