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In 1755 Kant insisted against Crusius that admitting the universal valid-
ity of the principle of sufficient (or determining) reason was compatible
with affirming that human beings are free. For, he said, although it is
true that everything that happens “ and therefore also every human
action “ has an antecedently determining reason, in cases where this
reason (ground) is not external (as in mechanical causality), but internal
(as in divine action, and in those human actions where ˜˜the motives of
understanding applied to the will provoke actions™™),31 the action,
although certain, is not necessitated. But in the Remark on the
Analytic of the Critique of Practical Reason, Kant categorically rejects this
kind of solution. Describing an action as free because its ground is not
external but internal, he now maintains, amounts to attributing to
human beings the ˜˜freedom of a turnspit,™™ which has in itself the source
of its movement, its position, and internal structure at each moment
determining its position at the following moment. The truth is,
Kant now says, that in such a situation each change of state, far from
originating from itself a new series of states, is strictly determined by the

In his dismissive response to Eberhard in 1790, Kant noted that Eberhard entertained a
confusion when he formulated the principle of reason as: ˜˜Everything has its sufficient
reason.™™ ˜˜Everything,™™ Kant remarks, can mean ˜˜every proposition™™ or ˜˜every thing.™™ In
the former case the principle is logical; in the latter it is transcendental (see On a Discovery,
AAviii, pp. 193“4). The confusion he denounces was his own in 1755 “ even if, as we have
seen, he was careful to distinguish reason of truths and reason of existences.
New Elucidation, AAi, p. 401.

change that precedes it.32 In the same way, whatever their mode
of determination (whether according to the rules of skill, the advice of
prudence, or the imperatives of morality), human actions, insofar as
they are events in time, are strictly determined by the events that pre-
cede them in time. The principle of reason, proven in the Second
Analogy, applies to them as it applies to every event. But the distinction
between things as they appear to the senses (phenomena) and things
accessible to the pure intellect (noumena), as well as the discovery of
the equivalence between freely determined action and action deter-
mined under the representation of the moral law, allow Kant at the
same time to adopt a position that is in certain respects very close to
the position of Crusius, which he criticized in the New Elucidation: it
is also true to say that at each instant there is no other antecedently
determining reason of action than the will itself, acting under the repre-
sentation of the moral law “ whether or not the agent makes this law
the supreme principle of the discrimination and ordering of his or
her maxims. The temporal determination of the action is no more
than the expansion over time of a non-temporal relation of the agent
to the moral law for which, at every instant, s/he can and should be held
Significantly, it is again in the vocabulary of 1755 that Kant defines the
relation between the moral law and freedom: freedom is the ratio essendi
of the moral law, and the moral law is the ratio cognoscendi of freedom.34
But this vocabulary really indicates that we have now arrived at the limit
of antecedently determining reasons. For human freedom, there is no
other reason than a ratio cognoscendi, moral law as a Faktum of reason
(Vernunft) (not a given of reason, but rather a production of reason).35 In
the New Elucidation, for the existence of God one could state only a
ground of knowing, and not a ground of being or existing (God, Kant
strikingly stated, was the only being for which existence precedes possi-
bility). With the critical system, for freedom as a property of human
beings we must affirm that we have a ground of knowing but not that we
have a ground of being or existing. Of course, according to Kant the

Critique of Practical Reason, AAv, p. 97, trans. Mary Gregor (Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 1997).
On freedom and the moral law, see ch. 9 in this volume.
Critique of Practical Reason, AAv, p. 4n.
Ibid., pp. 31“2.

same ground of knowing “ the moral law “ that leads us to affirm the
existence of human freedom leads us also to postulate the existence of
God as a ground for the synthetic connection between virtue and happi-
ness. But this only serves to widen the gap between this and Leibniz™s
principle of sufficient reason. The existence of God is not affirmed by an
ontological, cosmological, or physico-theological proof (God does not
have in himself his ground of being or existing, nor does the affirmation
of his existence result from the ultimate application to finite things of the
principle of antecedently determining reason). The existence of God is
postulated by virtue of a ratio that is not even a ratio cognoscendi, but
rather a ratio credendi, one which human reason generates from its own
resources as the only possible response to its inescapable demand for the
Highest Good.36
In brief: the thinned-out version of the principle of sufficient reason
defended by Kant in his critical philosophy depends on the unity of self-
consciousness that, he maintains, on the one hand conditions all know-
ledge of objects, and on the other hand conditions the ordered unity of
the maxims of action under the legislation of the moral law. The desti-
nies of the two notions “ unity of self-consciousness, principle of suffi-
cient reason “ are from now on linked, for better or for worse: to debunk
the one is also to debunk the other.37
But there is another way of challenging Kant™s principle of sufficient
reason: in Kant™s argument, as we have seen, the principle in all its
aspects is dependent on an Aristotelian predicative logic (the Wolffian
version of that logic) which provides discursive thought with its forms
and toward which temporal syntheses are guided. To put in question the
relevance of this predicative logic and its role in constituting the struc-
ture of our perceptual world is undermining the principle of sufficient
reason in both of the senses the critical Kant gives it (the logical principle
of reason of propositions, the transcendental principle of reason of the
temporal order of appearances). Of this principle, there seems then only
to remain, at best a modest heuristic principle “ for every thing and every
event, one must seek an explanation,38 for every action one must seek a
reason. And a practical imperative of autonomy: for one™s own actions,

Cf. ibid., pp. 124“32. See also Critique of the Power of Judgment, x84, AAv, pp. 434“6, trans.
Paul Guyer and Eric Matthews (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000).
As we can see in Schopenhauer: see On the Fourfold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason.
David Wiggins ends up with this modest version of the principle of sufficient reason in his
article, ˜˜Sufficient reason: a principle in diverse guises, both ancient and modern,™™ in Acta
Philosophica Fennica, vol. 61 (1996), pp. 117“32.

one should, as much as can be done, be in a position to hold oneself
It is therefore tempting to disconnect Kant™s argument in the Second
Analogy of Experience from Kant™s defense of the old principle of
sufficient reason, namely from any aspect of the principle inherited
from the German rationalists Kant discussed in his pre-critical period.
One may then take the Second Analogy to be part of Kant™s exposition of
the epistemological presuppositions of Newtonian natural science (the
option of neo-Kantianism, taken up today by Michael Friedman).39 Or
one may take Kant™s argument to be an explanation of the necessary
conditions of our ordinary perceptual experience, an argument that can
be reconstructed without any reference at all to Kant™s dubious scholastic
heritage (the option of Strawson and his followers).40 In this chapter,
I have tried to offer a third option. I have tried to show that taking Kant™s
scholastic heritage seriously does not mean reducing his view to this
heritage, but on the contrary enables us to measure the full extent of the
reversal he imposed upon it. Following up and reconstructing Kant™s
argument all the way to its origin in the principle of sufficient reason and
the reversal of its proof, then, echoes more familiar themes in today™s
philosophical concerns: the relation between reasons and causes,
and the determination of reasons from the point of view of a self-
consciousness that has the capacity to generate from itself the norms
of its theoretical and practical activity.41 How and why the modern devel-
opments of these themes differ from Kant™s, and what they nevertheless
owe to him “ it will take more work to try further to clarify these questions.

Readers of KCJ may notice that in my discussion of Kant™s New
Elucidation, I discussed only three versions of Kant™s notion of sufficient
reason (ratio essendi, ratio fiendi, ratio cognoscendi) and ended up taking
Kant™s concept of cause in the Second Analogy, in the critical period, to
be a critical version of the pre-critical ratio fiendi. In this chapter, I take
the Second Analogy to have for its ancestor the Principle of Succession

Cf. Cohen, Kants Theorie der Erfahrung; Michael Friedman, Kant and the Exact Sciences
(Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1992).
Strawson, Bounds of Sense. There are of course other options available beyond these most
influential ones. I say more about contemporary readings of Kant™s Second Analogy below,
ch. 6, esp. pp. 170“2.
McDowell, Mind and World, esp. pp. 114“17.

expounded in Nova Dilucidatio. This principle is itself presented by Kant
as a consequence of the principle of sufficient reason understood as a
principium rationis fiendi. I think this new presentation of the issue is a
more precise way of understanding the relation between Kant™s pre-
critical and critical views. It also has the advantage of making more
perspicuous the striking reversal in Kant™s method of proof.


Incredible as it may seem, scholars continue to disagree about what
exactly Kant was trying to prove in his Second Analogy of Experience “
in that section of the Critique of Pure Reason in which he is supposed to
provide his response to Hume™s skeptical doubt concerning the concept
of cause. Since Kant describes this response as the groundbreaking
initial step into his critical system, disagreement about its interpretation
is not a situation we can easily be satisfied with.
In recent years, a number of new studies have brought valuable insight
into the complexities of Kant™s argument, as well as into the roots of the
persisting disagreements about it. All agree on what constitutes the core of
Kant™s response to Hume: Kant maintains that some representation of
causal relation, rather than resulting “ as Hume claimed “ from the
repeated perception of generically identical successions of events, is pre-
supposed in the very representation of any particular objective succession
of states of a thing.1

Admittedly, succession of events and succession of states of a thing are not the same. Hume™s
standard case of succession, in his explanation of our idea of necessary connection, is that of
a succession of events: the motion of one billiard ball (event A) followed by the motion of
another (event B) (see Enquiry, section 4, part i, p. 29). His question is: how do we acquire
the idea that there is a necessary connection between A and B? Kant™s argument in the
Second Analogy focuses on changes of states of a thing: a ship™s change of position, a
cushion™s change of shape (see A192/B237, A203/B49). He argues, as I shall show in the


Disagreements, however, have recently focused on two main issues:
(1) what is meant by the ˜˜objective succession™™ whose representation,
according to Kant, presupposes some representation of causal relation?
Is it (a) the succession of events or states of affairs as we perceive them in
the objects of our ordinary experience “ the freezing of water, the
moving of a ship, the warming up of a stone? Or is it, rather, (b) the
succession of states of affairs as determined in the context of a scientific
image of the world “ for instance the objective, as opposed to the merely
apparent, succession of positions of heavenly bodies? (2) Just what is
involved in the concept of cause which, according to the Second
Analogy, is presupposed in our representation of objective succession?
Is Kant only asserting (a) that in order to think any particular sequence
of events or states of affairs as an objective sequence, we have to think its
temporal order as in some way constrained, and thus in a loose sense,
causally determined “ without further asserting that this constraint or
˜˜binding down™™ of the temporal order involves any notion of strictly
universal and necessary causal laws? Or does Kant argue, in the Second
Analogy, (b) that every event falls under universal and strictly necessary
causal laws?
Gerd Buchdahl and Henry Allison have argued in favor of answers
(a) to questions (1) and (2) (call this ˜˜the Buchdahl/Allison interpretation™™).
Michael Friedman has argued in favor of answers (b) to both questions
(call this ˜˜the Friedman interpretation™™). The alternative between these
two options has more or less dominated recent discussions of the Second
Analogy.2 It seems, then, that interpreting the objective succession at
stake in the Second Analogy as the temporal order of ordinary objects of
everyday experience commits one to the view that the causal principle
second section, that such changes of states are perceived only under the presupposition that
they are connected to other changes of states according to universal causal laws. A change of
states is of course itself an event, so that in the end Kant™s argument does also concern law-
governed successions of events. But the perception of succession on which the argument is
built is not primarily the perception of a succession of events (this will be clear when we
consider the argument in the second section). In reading the argument as focusing on
successions of states rather than successions of events, I agree with Allison: see Henry
Allison, ˜˜Causality and causal laws in Kant: a critique of Michael Friedman,™™ in P. Parrini
(ed.), Kant and Contemporary Epistemology (Dordrecht: Kluwer, 1994), p. 300. Cf. also Allison,
Kant™s Transcendental Idealism, p. 248; Strawson, The Bounds of Sense, p. 134n; and
Longuenesse, KCJ, pp. 371“2.
Cf. Michael Friedman: ˜˜Kant and the twentieth century,™™ in Parrini, Kant and Contemporary
Epistemology, pp. 27“46, and Allison, ˜˜Causality and causal laws in Kant.™™ Cf. also Friedman,
˜˜Causal laws and the foundations of natural science,™™ in Guyer, The Cambridge Companion to
Kant, pp. 161“99; Gerd Buchdahl, Metaphysics and the Philosophy of Science (Oxford:
Blackwell, 1969), pp. 641“5.

argued for in the Second Analogy is a relatively weak one, involving no
notion of universal causal laws. On the other hand, opting for a notion
of objective temporal order understood as an order determined under
mathematical laws (for which the paradigm would be, for Kant,
Newtonian universal gravitation) commits one to the view that the causal
principle argued for in the Second Analogy is a strong causal principle,
asserting not only that for every event there is a cause, but that this cause is
determined under universal and strictly necessary causal laws.
The position I shall defend in this chapter breaks the terms of the
alternative I have just outlined. For I shall defend answer (a) to question
(1), and answer (b) to question (2). I shall maintain that the objective
succession Kant is concerned with in the Second Analogy of Experience
is the succession of states in the objects of our ordinary perceptual
experience; but I shall also maintain that according to Kant, we can
perceive such objective changes only under the presupposition that
they fall under strictly universal causal laws. I shall, in fact, attribute to
Kant not just this epistemological point, but the more radical ontological
(transcendental) point that in the world of appearances, all changes of
states do fall under strictly universal causal laws.
I am not alone in attributing such an argument to Kant. Strawson has
defended the view that the argument of all three Analogies is concerned
with the ordinary objects of our perceptual experience; and he has also
defended the view that Kant intends the Second Analogy as a proof that
all changes of states in such objects are causally necessitated, namely
determined under strictly universal causal laws. He has famously
endorsed Lovejoy™s charge, however, that Kant™s argument for this
strong conclusion is a ˜˜non-sequitur of numbing grossness.™™ And he
has argued that rather than Kant™s own flawed argument, one could
extract from the Second Analogy a valid argument for a weaker conclu-
sion: we can relate our perceptions to the objects they are the percep-
tions of, only if the changes of states in these objects fall under a unified
pattern of reasonably coherent and stable rules.3 Although I agree that
Kant™s argument in its stronger version does raise problems, I shall
argue that it is definitely not the gross non-sequitur Lovejoy and
Strawson read into the Second Analogy.

Strawson, Bounds of Sense, p. 144. For Strawson™s denunciation of Kant™s ˜˜non-sequitur,™™
see ibid., pp. 137“8; cf. Arthur Lovejoy, ˜˜On Kant™s reply to Hume,™™ Archiv fu Geschichte der
Philosophie, vol. 18c (1906), pp. 380“407; repr. in Moltke S. Gram (ed.), Kant: Disputed
Questions (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1967), pp. 284“308.

Paul Guyer too offers an interpretation of the Second Analogy along a
pattern similar to the one I defend: he maintains (a) that the Second
Analogy is about ordinary objects of our everyday experience, and
(b) that in the Second Analogy, Kant argues for some version of universal
causal laws. However, Guyer has his own way of weakening Kant™s claim:
he maintains that Kant is concerned only with the conditions for confirm-
ing our beliefs about objective successions. Guyer™s Kant argues that we
can confirm our belief that an objective change has occurred or is occur-
ring only if we can ascertain that this change falls under known causal
laws.4 I maintain that Kant wants to make the stronger claim that we
perceive any objective change at all only under the presupposition that
this change occurs according to universal causal laws.
It is not just with respect to the conclusions I think Kant wants to reach,
that I differ from recent commentators of the Second Analogy. Equally
importantly, I differ from them in the method I adopt. My method
consists in taking Kant at his word when he claims that we can understand
the meaning and role of the categories “ the fundamental concepts
necessarily presupposed, according to Kant, in any representation of
objects “ if we understand their relation to logical forms of judgment.
The logical form corresponding, in Kant™s ˜˜table of logical forms of judg-
ment,™™ to the category of causality, is the form of hypothetical judgment.
I claim that the best way to understand Kant™s argument about causality is
to follow the guideline provided by this form as conceived by Kant, and its
use in empirical knowledge. I follow this guideline in three main steps “
thus the three sections of the chapter.
In the first section of the chapter, I consider Kant™s formulation of the
problem of causality. I argue that Kant™s questioning of the causal
principle and his analysis of the concept of cause are best approached
in the light of his conception of logic, and more particularly in the light of
his conception of hypothetical judgments and hypothetical syllogisms.
In the second part of the chapter, I consider Kant™s proof of the causal
principle in the Second Analogy of Experience. All students of Kant know
that this proof is concerned with the conditions of our perception of
objective succession. But this aspect of Kant™s argument is all too fre-
quently detached from the claimed relation between the causal category
and the logical form of hypothetical judgment. In contrast, I shall argue
that this relation provides an indispensable foundation for understanding

Cf. Paul Guyer, Kant and the Claims of Knowledge (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,
1987), p. 252.

Kant™s argument on the conditions of time perception. But showing this
will also reveal a fundamental difficulty. The argument Kant provides
does not seem to support the strong causal principle he claims to prove.
I suggest that this apparent discrepancy between Kant™s claim and his
actual argument in the specific context of the Second Analogy is a primary
reason for the persisting disagreements about the meaning of the Second
In the third section of the chapter, I argue that in fact Kant does
provide an answer to the difficulty I raised. This answer, however, relies
not only on the discursive model of thought laid out in the first and
second sections of the chapter, but also on Kant™s conception of space
and time as forms of intuition, as it emerges from the Transcendental
Aesthetic and the Transcendental Deduction of the Categories. Since
Kant™s views on space and time are generally considered to be the most
problematic aspect of the first Critique, it is no great surprise if the
argument of the Analogy seems to come upon its major difficulty at
this point. Clarifying the nature of the difficulty is perhaps the most we
can hope to do. It would be no small feat, however, if this also helped us
resolve some of our disagreements about the nature and import of
Kant˜s proof.

Kant™s problem about causality
Let us start with ˜˜Hume™s problem.™™ Hume distinguished two main
aspects in the problem raised by the concept of cause. The first concerns
the causal principle itself: what is the source, and what is the justification,
of our belief that every event or state of affairs must have a cause? The
second concerns our representation of particular causal connections:
what are the source and justification of our belief, in any particular
case, that one event or state of affairs is the cause of another?5
In the Enquiry, Hume focuses mainly on the second question.6 In the
Treatise of Human Nature, he argues that in answering the second question

Cf. David Hume, A Treatise of Human Nature, ed. L. A. Selby-Bigge and P. H. Nidditch
(Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993), bk i, part iii, sect. 2, p. 78:
˜˜First, for what reason we pronounce it necessary, that every thing whose existence has a
beginning, should also have a cause? Second, why we conclude that such particular causes
must necessarily have such particular effects; and what is the nature of that particular
inference we draw from the one to the other, and of the belief we repose in it?™™
Hume, Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, in Enquiries Concerning Human
Understanding and Concerning the Principles of Morals, ed. L. A. Selby-Bigge, 3rd edn, with
text revised and notes by P. H. Nidditch (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1992), sections 4“7.

one also answers the first. Very briefly, his argument is as follows. No
particular perception of an event or state of affairs provides us with any
idea of its power to produce another event or state of affairs, or with any
idea of a necessary connection between two events or states of affairs. Only
the repetition of similar pairs of events or states of affairs following upon
one another generates in us a customary association of one with the other,
and thus a subjective expectation of perceiving the second upon perceiving
the first. Our idea of a necessary connection between two events or states of
affairs, then, reflects nothing but our own subjective propensity to expect
the second upon perceiving the first, and to form the vivid idea of the first
(which amounts to believing that it exists) upon perceiving the second. But
because of the natural tendency of our mind to ˜˜spread itself upon external
objects,™™7 we tend to attribute to the objects themselves a connection whose
idea really reflects only an expectation in us. This, then, is how we form the

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