Kant's criticism of the cosmological argument

Quin, Alastair Cameron (1985). Kant's criticism of the cosmological argument. PhD thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.0000de4b


This thesis sets out to examine Kant's criticism of the cosmological argument. Kant's general philosophical views are expounded and his reasons for the rejection of metaphysics are explained.

In the course of the argument Kant's own analysis of the cosmological proof is discussed. He laid great stress on the fact that there are two stages involved in the cosmological proof. His principal criticism concerns its second stage. There the proponent of the proof seeks to move from the necessary being, whose existence is said to have been established in the first stage of the argument, to God. Kant's claim that the second stage of the proof involves the principle of the ontological argument is discussed as is his criticism of the ontological argument itself.

There are two principal forms of the cosmological argument. These are the argument from contingency and the first cause argument. Kant discusses both in the Critique of Pure Reason, the one in his critique of rational theology, the other in his chapter on the Antinomies. The thesis discusses the Kantian criticisms of both forms of the argument and considers how these criticisms may be answered.

Kant's criticism of the second stage of the cosmological proof is also discussed and it is argued that his principle that this must be a pure a priori argument is unduly restrictive.

Finally the possibility of founding a criticism of the cosmological argument on the central doctrines of the Critique of Pure Reason is discussed.

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